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9/11

Not a lot to say, except that it's nice to see this day fading further and further into memory. The 2008 election was really the first conducted outside the shadow of the Twin Towers, and politics has continued to move further and further away from this small band of maniacs in the mountains. The fact that they're running from our special forces while we worry about building a better health-care system for the neediest among us is evidence that the terrorists really didn't win. We did. Because we're still ourselves.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 11, 2009; 12:27 PM ET
 
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Comments

"Because we're still ourselves."

I believe we are a much worse country than we were before. More hate-filled, more given to the dictates of the crazies.

Posted by: AZProgressive | September 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

beautiful post, ezra.
thank you.


once again:

"it's really a wonder that i havent dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. yet i keep them, because in spite of everything i still believe that people are really good at heart. i simply cant build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. i see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, i hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, i can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if i look up into the heavens, i think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
in the meantime, i must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when i shall be able to carry them out.

yours,
anne"
saturday, 15 july, 1944
anne frank
"the diary of a young girl"

Posted by: jkaren | September 11, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"I believe we are a much worse country than we were before. More hate-filled, more given to the dictates of the crazies.
Posted by: AZProgressive"

Today they're birthers, 50 years ago they were Birchers. The sane, moderate right that had to distance themselves from the Birchers supported segregation. Yes, we're more given to their dictates, but they're the ones who happened to be in power at the time. The difference is one of degree, not type; people have always been like this.

Posted by: CyrusL | September 11, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

*applause* Well put, Ezra.

Posted by: LeviLevi | September 11, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I disagree a bit with the political implications.

Bush tried to invoke 9/11 in the 2006 cycle, but it was overshadowed by the Iraq War. Rudy tried to invoke 9/11 in the GOP primary to no avail. 9/11 was most potent in 2002 and 2004. It lost most of its overt political power by 2006.

For the families and friends though this is still a bit of a heavy day with remembrance and reflection. I remember a friend talking about the loss of a mutual friend on 9/11 -- this was in October 2001. At the time a bunch of us were a few years out of college and as the friend said -- "we will grow old, but in our memories, he will always remain the same age." Those words continue to have resonance. Hard to believe it's been 8 years.

More than anything, the personal overshadows the political at this stage. This is as it should be.

Posted by: JPRS | September 11, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

i'm sorry but there's no place in a post about 9/11 for politics. As someone who lost good friends in 9/11 and had friends that worked in Tower 1 and got out before they collapsed i agree with JPRS's comment:

"we will grow old, but in our memories, he will always remain the same age."


It will also be a moment that everyone will remember where they were, what they were doing and how it affected them. Those are only several in a generation. The challenger accident is similar to that. Those that are older than me I'm sure remember when MLK was shot, JFK and still others. Its when politics takes a backseat no matter what and we're all Americans.

I just hope we never forget so that we never have to experience that again.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 11, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"The difference is one of degree, not type; people have always been like this."

But now, they have a TV network, and they determine one side of any debate, no matter how crazy and hateful they are.

Posted by: AZProgressive | September 11, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

nothing like politicizing the death of 3000 americans. not very progressive if you ask me.

Those that died in the attacks weren't Republicans or Democrats or Independents or Liberals or Progressives. They were Americans. You should listen to our President who said those same words much more eloquently than I can.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 11, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Those that are older than me I'm sure remember when MLK was shot, JFK and still others. Its when politics takes a backseat no matter what and we're all Americans."

Yes, even the people who supported the shooters. What's your point?

Posted by: CyrusL | September 11, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

A clarification of my own view: I was disagreeing with the substance of Ezra's political analysis -- not the fact that he broached the political angle on 9/11.

People will, can, and should reflect on the day however they see fit. There are lessons to be learned from the day that go beyond the personal. This is just the reality of the situation.

A politicians acting in an official state capacity today always needs to tread carefully and remember that he (or she) represents a wide constituency.

However, for everyone else, I think pretty much anything goes. Social tact should be a consideration, but speaking the truth as a person sees it is part of the equation too.

Posted by: JPRS | September 11, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

cyrus,

I think i've made my point abundantly clear but i will once more.

Political beliefs don't belong in these posts about 9/11 in my opinion and it kind of disgusts me that some people do that. The terrorists didn't ask political affilliation when they were killing Americans. First responders that died didn't ask what your party was when determining if they were going to save someone and risk or lose their lives. The fact that everything is political to some is to the detriment of our society as a whole and more specifically to those that let it envelop them like some in here do (as i'm sure they do in the conservative type blogs too).

And what is your insinuation here:

"Yes, even the people who supported the shooters. What's your point?"

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 11, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

maybe i'm more sensitive since I lost friends in 9/11 and sometimes worse know some that survived and are forever affected by it. If there was a nasty tone to my post I'm sorry.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 11, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

In the sadness of the days following I think most of the country was prepared to set aside partisanship and see political difference laid to rest for a common cause.

It could have been a great uniter, a transcendent event.

Instead, we know what happened. Within days it was converted into a kind of high-octane political capital by the administration and the Republicans in Congress, and used self-servingly to drive a very tangible division through our society.

I agree with everyone who says it's a personal thing, but I'll never forget how quickly it became a political tool, and used to inflict great damage on our Union.

Posted by: wapomadness | September 11, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, sadly 9/11 was used as a political event from almost the beginning and it is still used as such today. Discussing it as such is just acknowledging reality.

Posted by: MosBen | September 11, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr,

No worries -- I have a sense about where you're coming from.

Fortunately, it's only one week out of the year.

Posted by: JPRS | September 11, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Ezra: "Because we're still ourselves."

I think we came dangerously close to not being "ourselves," and we're not out of the woods yet.

People were understandably scared after the attacks. But they led to an assertion of virtually unchecked assertion of executive power in the name of security. We had people in the Justice Department claiming that Article II's "commander in chief" provision trumped the Fourth Amendment, the First Amendment, due process provisions, international treaty obligations, and domestic law. And there was no principled way to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens in these matters. I never thought my country would assert the authority to hold people without charge, without public evidence, without access to a lawyer, for as long as one person deems it necessary. If another country did that to our citizens, I think we would be outraged.

I perceived these shifts as a threat to the foundation of our government. While I think we have stepped back from the brink, I remained troubled by the continuation of some policies and proposals such as indefinite detention without trial.

Perhaps we are still "ourselves" in that we can debate these issue openly and without fear of reprisal, a freedom that is lacking in many parts of the world. And admittedly there has never been much support for those suspected of even ordinary crimes, even though our system is supposed to provide the presumption of innocence until the government proves its case.

But I think people will look back on the past several years and see how close we were to giving up some of our basic governing principles in a time of perceived crisis. This would not be the first time in American history: there were the Alien and Sedition Acts under Adams, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, FDR's internment of those of Japanese descent. All of these actions may have seemed reasonable at the time, but each time we have looked back and recognized those mistakes of possibly constitutional magnitude.

I hope someday to be able to say the same of some of what happened in the wake of 9/11. Then, I think, we will be "ourselves" again. But I don't think we're there yet.

Posted by: dasimon | September 11, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

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