On September 11, 2002, I wrote that while I liked ‘G-d Bless America’, the song we needed as a country was a fighting song, our anthem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. I couldn’t get over that day. I didn’t want to.
September 11, 2003 was the beginning of a return to normality. The two years before this day had passed in a daze. I became such a homebody after 9/11. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I think many New Yorkers felt the same way. It wasn’t fear, at least not after awhile, it was more the feeling of pointlessness and loss. How could I care about anything when 3000 Americans died at work, at breakfast, in planes going on vacation? 2003 was when I started to feel like myself again, although I can’t say that I don’t think about 9/11 on a regular basis even now, in 2005. It changed everything. It definitely changed me.
Last year, September 11, 2004, I was in Dallas with my Halliburton Girl. The election was coming up and things were ugly. All the togetherness and community spirit of 2001 was completely gone by 2004.
I thought this year was better. The election was over. How much energy can be wasted hating a term-limited incumbent? Apparently, as the liberal response to a hurricane has demonstrated, a whole lot.
Look, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t argue over issues. I believe that smaller government and lower taxes are better for our country, you disagree, that’s fine, we don’t need to hate each other over tax policy. Even on social issues, why do we always have to take everything to the lowest common denominator? If someone is against gay marriage, that doesn’t mean they hate gay people (no matter what Andrew Sullivan or Downtown Lad think) and someone that is pro-choice doesn’t love killing babies, they just have a different set of principles and beliefs. It’s not the end of the world. Planes into our buildings, that’s closer to the end of the world. I wrote this a lot during the election as a reason to vote for Bush but it remains true today: none of our arguments will matter if we’re all killed by a nuke that has gotten into the wrong hands.
It isn’t just the president’s job to take terrorism seriously, though we’re lucky to have one that does, it should matter to each of us. You didn’t agree with the war in Iraq? Ok. Well. There’s a war over there, whether you wanted it or not. Be on our side. Hope America, and by default Iraq, wins. Don’t root against us. Don’t hope for defeat. Don’t side with the terrorists just to show up Bush. It’s insanity. Try to remember how you felt that day, the violation, the anger. The people at their desks at Cantor Fitzgerald or Aon weren’t thinking about politics. They were killed because they were Americans. And yeah, you don’t like hearing that they hate you for your freedom, because then it’s harder to blame Bush, but they do hate you for who you are and how you live.
The war on Islamic Fascism, and on their terrorist methods, is going to be long and hard. Afghanistan and Iraq are just the beginning. Yes, it is hard to change an insane culture into a healthy, stable one but our lives depend on it. We can pretend it’s not here, that this pause in attacks is because the forces that spurned Mohammed Atta have given up or walked away but we should all know better.
The band Bright Eyes, led by an anti-Bush leftist, Connor Oberst, has a song called ‘Road to Joy’, sort of the title track of his last album ‘I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning’ (since that’s the chorus of ‘Road to Joy’). In it, he screams ‘And no one’s sure how all of this got started, but we’re going to make g-ddamn certain how it’s gonna end’ in regards to the war. I know he means it as a criticism of our ignorance or arrogance or short-sightedness. Well, I’m sorry, even if you don’t understand how the war got started, even if you found it pointless, I don’t see anything wrong with wanting it to end the way we’d like. As I wrote in a comment section, if we take down a culture that had children’s prisons and human shredders while making ourselves safer, what’s wrong with that? And if the ’side’ of freedom, liberty, justice, capitalism, equality (or if you can’t suspend your America-hating to believe that, at least the side that practices these things a million times more than ‘the other side’) wins, what’s so bad about that?
On 9/11/01, we knew we had a country worth defending. I still feel that we do today. I hope that the great majority feels the same.