Americans across the country solemnly and fittingly commemorated the worst attack on our country in any of our lifetimes. We held moments of silence; we once again stared in horror at the pictures of the Twin Towers coming down; we remembered the sacrifices of those we lost on that terrible day, and the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives to prevent another day like that from occurring again.
And yet there is a strange disconnect between how we felt on 9-11 and how we feel today. On 9-11, as we watched our fellow Americans leaping from hundreds of stories to their deaths, as we watched symbols of our might in flaming ruins, we felt conflicting emotions: frustration, unbearable grief. We also felt connected with one another on a visceral level. The overwhelming feeling of unity we felt came from a deep and abiding conviction that our republic was worth defending.
I’m not sure some liberals ever understood that. That is why Paul Krugman, fort instance, devoted his 10th anniversary column to demeaning the leadership of President George W. Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the aftermath of the attacks:
“What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te [sic] atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons. A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity? The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”
This is absurd. But it is not an uncommon view from the left. In the aftermath of an attack on America, the liberals’ ideal of unity emphasized self doubt over strength and vengeance. Paul Krugman, in Michael Moore fashion, thinks that the aftermath of 9-11 was “shameful” because Americans took out the bad guys but left the real bad guys – our president and vice president – in power. What is truly shameful about his piece is that Krugman is serious.
On Saturday, President Obama urged Americans to reclaim the unity they felt on 9-11 – but what sort of unity does Obama have in mind? According to the President, on September 11, “Americans came together in candlelight vigils, in our houses of worship and on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Volunteers lined up to give blood and drove across the country to lend a hand. Schoolchildren donated their savings. Communities, faith groups and businesses collected food and clothing. We were united, as Americans. This is the true spirit of America we must reclaim this anniversary — the ordinary goodness and patriotism of the American people and the unity that we needed to move forward together, as one nation.”
True, but every nation comes together in the wake of tragedy. Every nation passes the hat for those who are maimed and the families of those who die; every nation holds candlelight vigils and urges schoolchildren to donate their savings.
The key to the American response to 9-11 is that it only partly about death and grieving. It was also about Americans recognizing for the first time in a generation that the American way of life is not everyone’s way of life and that there are people out there who seek to destroy our freedom and liberty each and every day. And it was a reminder that we have to come together as a nation to protect one another – and those values.
Many liberals will never understand that. President Obama’s op-ed never mentioned freedom or liberty. Paul Krugman never even thought of it. For them, 9-11 was a sad occurrence, to be sure, but it was not a moral call to recognize the evil that exists in the world and to fight it. That is why the chances of another 9-11 rise dramatically each time liberals take control of our terror-fighting infrastructure. They do not understand that freedom and liberty are worth defending, and they do not understand the nature of those we fight.