9/11 Reflections

I wrote two posts on 9/11 last year: God and 9/11 and God and 9/11, Part 2. They’re still worth reading, but today I want to add some additional reflections.

I wasn’t as shaken by 9/11 as I perhaps should have been. To me, it was like other disasters that I saw on the news: I guess I should feel bad about hurricanes and bombings and wars and crimes, but I can’t really do much about them, so I don’t worry too much. A lot of people are hardened to the reality of evil in the world. Maybe it would be different if I knew the people who died.

But I could sense on September 11, 2001 that the people around me were treating this disaster differently. I was registering at Harvard when it happened, and I saw this one woman crying as she watched the news. I didn’t know what was going on. And the whole atmosphere around me was tense and serious. I finally had to ask a clerk in an office, “What is going on?”

To be honest, I was a little scared of the national unity that emerged right after the disaster. I don’t entirely know why. It just seemed like a spooky group-think pervaded the atmosphere, and people were eager to follow President Bush, no matter what. Not long after the event, I read an interview in which a reporter asked Bush about the impact of new legislation on civil rights, and Bush seemed baffled that he even asked the question.

I’m happy that we’ve reached a point where mentioning “9/11” doesn’t stifle debate and political criticism. For a while, Republicans were using “9/11” the same way that liberals use racism, sexism, and homophoba: to stifle debate. “But when did a Republican ever question a Democrat’s patriotism?,” one may ask. Well, that one law is called “the Patriot Act,” is it not? Does that mean those who question it are unpatriotic?

Overall, however, I agree with President Bush’s policies to counter terrorism. Like the vast majority of Americans, I want my country to be safe. And I have a problem treating civil rights as an absolute that cannot be infringed. In my opinion, if we can listen in to the conversations of terrorists, then we should do so. It’s irresponsible not to! And Bush’s policy on wiretaps has thwarted additional attacks.

I also disagree with the obsession of Bush’s critics over Osama bin Laden. Sure, he should be found and brought to justice, but Bush’s critics acted like 9/11 was solely a matter of a single personality. Terror is a network! It’s not just one person. That’s why I don’t like the mantra of “Why did we attack Iraq, when the problem was in Afghanistan?”

I think Bush deserves credit for preventing another terrorist attack. At the same time, I don’t want any policy to be beyond the realm of scrutiny. So I’m glad that people are willing to question President Bush at this point in time, and yet I agree with his anti-terror policies.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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16 Responses to 9/11 Reflections

  1. steph says:

    I also have huge problems with the idea the Palestinian lives are not worth as much as Israeli lives. But as well I have problems with the idea that British lives are cheaper than American ones and Spanish ones too. Blair invaded with Bush. Bush did not prevent any more terrorist attacks by invading Iraq. And remember, the “network” was not in Iraq when they invaded. And Sadam hated Osama. But the west had been present in and putting pressure on the Middle east for years before. The mantra has logic.


  2. James Pate says:

    But there were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam, whether they were the best of friends or not. When liberals are pressed, they will usually admit that. The question is how important the connections were. But, at the same time, one liberal I know (the one who likes Robert Fisk) made a fairly decent point when he said that the U.S. also had connections with Al Qaeda and Saddam, at various points.


  3. steph says:

    Of course the US had connections with Al Qaeda and Saddam. But Saddam didn’t have connections with Al Qaeda. That James, is a myth. They hated each other. Sunni and Shia do not make bedmates.


  4. James Pate says:

    Oh no, that’s not a myth, Steph. I may have to do some digging to find the Fisk article that acknowledged some links (if he’s the one who wrote the article I’m thinking about). The 9/11 Commission also documented them (The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 61, 66).


  5. steph says:

    the 9/11 Commission Report…. hmmm


  6. steph says:

    I’d like to know what the links were that Fisk might refer to. By the way nothing justifies the invasion. Even in Fisk’s book.


  7. James Pate says:

    Actually, it turns out someone else wrote the article.


  8. steph says:

    Yes I know. Fisk in no uncertain terms, refutes such a myth. There was absolutely no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam.


  9. James Pate says:

    So you don’t believe they ever talked with each other at all?


  10. steph says:

    Only to call each other names. No they didn’t talk to each other. It was one of these things that when Bush said it often, people believed it.


  11. James Pate says:

    Wikipedia’s article, “Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda link allegations timeline” says that they did have contact, even though there was a LOT of tension between them, so they rebuffed each other a lot. You may blow it off and say “that’s just wikipedia,” but it does have documentation.


  12. steph says:

    Yes and the documentation is biased. Come on James, it is a myth. It was invented to justify the invasion. Read Robert Fisk, thrice interviewer of Osama bin Laden, doctorate in Political Science from Dublin, five honourary doctorates, one a second from Dublin, numerous awards and alot more informed than you and me.


  13. James Pate says:

    I’m sure he is more informed. And, if that wikipedia article was biased, it was more in your direction than mine. But the bipartisan 9/11 report said that Saddam and Al Qaeda talked. Even the Senate report that said there was no operative relationship acknowledged communication. If Robert Fisk is as knowledgeable as you say he is, then I doubt he denies ALL communication between Al-Qaeda and Saddam.


  14. steph says:

    Of course the 9/11 report says they talked. It is a piece of propaganda, it is not bipartisan. That wikipedia is biased in my favour is obviously false. Robert Fisk certainly denies anything other than name calling and he has spoken to the leaders among other things. It is just the great American Bush lie, justification for an illegal invasion (not that any invasion is legal).


  15. James Pate says:

    The 9/11 report WAS bipartisan. It had Republicans and Democrats on it. That IS the definition of bipartisan, is it not?


  16. steph says:

    …all in favour of the Iraq war. I think it is only in America that such a myth is perpetuated


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