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April 28, 2004

Two Letters; Two Towers; Two Americas

From Little Green Footballs, Pearl 2001:

Sept 11, 11:30 am
Sophie et al,

...I was riding in a cab down Broadway at 8:45 when the first plane flew over. I couldn't believe it, I heard the engines and looked up, it was just above the buildings, a small jet I thought, and a moment later, a boom. Tons of beautiful white paper drifted down on Manhattan. Our Democratic primary is today and my first thought was that a candidate had dropped political leaflets.


I directed the cab a few blocks further and saw an amazing sight, a beautiful day and the North Tower on fire. I got out of the cab and watched as one person after another jumped to their deaths 90 stories up as the flames hit them. Behind me was the cavalry, a river of sirens and lights careening down the avenues -- ambulances, Harleys, ladder trucks, black & whites-- weaving through traffic, all throttle and brake, honking, cursing, firemen craning their heads out the windows to look upwards, gaping at the damage, radio to the ear. It was the last thing they would never remember.

I turned away and was staring at the South Tower when the second plane hit. The concussion took my courage. It was an explosion beyond description, I felt that it was 1945 and I was in Berlin, or maybe Pearl Harbor in '41.

I could feel the heat three hundred yards away; everything on four or five floors, people and office equipment, came raining down on the crowd. We all ran north while it fell and got away before it hit because it was high up. As I glanced back I saw the contents of the floors on fire, people killed without a second to consider their lives....

A different sort of letter, courtesy of Alarming News:

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where -- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order -- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.

You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.

-- from Osama bin Ladin's Fatwa against the West

And no, we're really not trying to pin 9-11 on Clinton. Clinton was guilty of many things -- a neglectful, Panglossian procrastinating style of foreign policy high among them -- but one can't say Clinton "caused" 9-11. Clinton was America's leader, the man America installed as CINC. To the extent Clinton is to blame, we're all to blame.

But it is worth remembering that Clinton "solved" the Al Qaeda problem by lobbing cosmetic cruise missiles at camels. That didn't actually solve the problem, but it did solve the political problem-- it reassured the nation that we were "doing something" about terrorism.

We weren't really, of course. But in terms of politics, those ineffectual missiles "solved" Clinton's problem.

What is galling to us is that it seems many Americans want to go back to precisely that sort of "solution" -- the phony "solution" of merely getting a problem off the front-pages of newspapers while doing absolutely nothing to actually solve it, and indeed making it worse by encouraging it to fester and metastasize.

The hatred is directed at the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

But there's another feeling, too. It's not hatred, but it is nearly as intense an emotion, because it's directed not at some barely-glimpsed lunatic cultist in the faraway Kush, but towards people we talk to everyday.

It's a feeling of frustration and disgust.

Frustration and disgust at those who see 9-11 as merely a tricky political problem to be "gotten around" in order to deal with the real problems in America -- making sure no 14 year old ever need ask a parent permission to abort a child, making sure teachers have all the chalk and crayons they claim they have to buy out of pocket.

John Edwards was right. There are indeed Two Americas, but not the two Americas he bloviated about to such ringing media claim.

America is divided into two camps.

Those who want to deal with the actual problem confronting us, and those who merely want to deal with the political problem that arises from that actual problem.

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posted by Ace at 05:27 PM

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