David Rodeback's Blog

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Friday, September 10, 2004
Looking Back: 9/11, Part One

Here are some thoughts I wrote in the days after September 11, 2001:

The catastrophic events of this week, specifically of Tuesday morning, have horrified us all - over and over again, in fact, thanks to the dubious blessings of video tape and 24-hour news coverage. It seems to me, as a sort of student of such things, that in these acts of war we have witnessed only the early battles in what promises to be a long, difficult, and unusual war, if we have the will to fight it, against an evil somewhat different from any we have ever faced in war before.
While some among us ask how this could happen, how we of all nations could be vulnerable to such a devastating attack, others among us, who are either more attentive to the world beyond our borders or simply more cynical, ask how this could not happen, and what form the next attack will take.
One of the wiser observers of all this has suggested that Tuesday morning's terrorism marks the end of our national vacation from history. In our self-centered, frivolous wrangling over fictional budget surpluses and imaginary lockboxes, we seem to have ignored the rest of the world, thinking, perhaps, that as long as the newspaper tells us that unemployment is low and the economy is creeping steadily along, the evil inside and outside our borders cannot harm us. It is as if we believe that everything in the world, including peace, can be bought with money - or, indeed, that money is everything.
Certainly, there is no excuse to be made for the evil people who wrought this great destruction. Yet misfortune, or even great evil, tends to reveal great good. How ironic, how wonderful that so forceful a reminder of the power of evil in this world should bring with it so powerful a reminder that there is great good in the world, as well. Paul Greenberg noted that on Tuesday, "New Yorkers, who would happily trample their fellow man on an ordinary day, were rushing to help however they could."

[To be continued tomorrow.]

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