Seven years later, no American can see the date September 11 without thinking about that fateful and tragic day. When I read my history books and come across that date, even if it’s from the distant past (the Battle of Marathon was fought on September 11, 490 B.C.) I cannot help but think of the day of the terrorist attacks. When I have to mention the date itself, I prefer to call it the 11th of September because “September 11th” is so irrevocably etched into my memory as the day of the terrorist attacks.
What is nearly as sad as the terrorist attacks themselves is that September 11 is still a juicy political issue. On this sad day of remembrance, I still find many, especially on talk radio, who are mistaken about this day. It saddens this writer deeply to listen to radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity use this day to continue to defend the Bush administration’s imperial foreign policy. It is really quite astonishing that Iraq can be invoked so many times on a day that that country had nothing to do with. John McCain won the Republican nomination because he is such a committed defender of the American venture into Mesopotamia. But it was a terrorist network who took refuge in Afghanistan that perpetuated the attack seven years ago. Removing a dictatorial regime in a country that had done nothing to hurt us in the past was the arrogant, not the prudent course.
Also sad this day is the continued inability to admit that the United States is fallible. The more I listen to talk radio, since my paleoconservative conversion, the more I notice that State Worship is prevalent on the mainstream Right. On Wednesday, Mr. Limbaugh insisted to a caller that America is not the problem with the world, but the solution for the world. This is an arrogant statement that illustrates the problem America finds itself in. It is not that America is a bad country or that its people are bad. That is the implication that is made when people accuse others of “blaming America first.” It is naïve to believe that our government and its actions are benevolent and hurt no one. Conservatives, more than any other body, should know that government’s first inclination is to extend beyond its prescribed role and intervene unnecessarily. That axiom does not change just because a Republican is at the helm. Instead of applying a critical eye to the Republican president, many conservatives turned a blind eye and justified any measure as necessary.
Talk radio routinely chastises Senator Barack Obama for not sufficiently loving his country. It is true that the senator and his wife have said highly questionable things about the traditions of America and its people. Mr. Obama’s now-infamous comment in San Francisco about bitter Pennsylvanians hurt him in the last round of Democratic primaries and Mrs. Obama showed remarkably poor judgment in saying that she was not proud of her country until she saw that she had a good chance to become First Lady. But Mr. Limbaugh and others habitually harangue the Illinois freshman senator because he has said that, among other reasons, he wants to become president so he can make America a great country again. The talk radio Right has become inflamed by such comments. But by doing so, I wonder what these same personalities might have said nearly three decades ago when Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush appeared on campaign buttons that promised they would return America to greatness. Were they implying that under disastrous one-term president Jimmy Carter the United States was somehow less than great and that they wanted to return the country to a better time? It’s kind of funny how a Democrat can make Republicans feel less proud of their country but a disastrous two-term Republican president should not be able to do the same to Bush-weary Democrats.
The sad truth is that the terrorist attacks of Sepetember 11, 2001 did not dull partisanship. It did in the days immediately following the tragedy, but by the time the Bush administration set its sights on a Middle Eastern empire, the unity faded. The Republicans, with a lot of help from the Democrats, marched off to a theater of operations they had no business marching into.
Today, let us remember the heroes of New York, Washington D. C., and Pennsylvania. Their efforts should not be politicized on this gravely sad day. It stomps on their achievements in the midst of death. It should not be a time to justify war without end and likewise it should not be a time to justify one’s attempts to single out George W. Bush as a unique catalyst for the war in Iraq. September 11, 2001 was one day and nothing else.
We remember and honor the people who died that day and we can remember the heroism of those who ran to the rescue, not the ones who have capitalized the most from it.