What Is There to Write on 9/11 15.0?


Two facts for context: I’ve long been a big fan of David Wilcox, and September 11, 2001, affected me hugely for a variety of reasons that I won’t dig through my archives to evidence, just now.  These two facts came together some time in 2003 when my wife and I left our one-year-old daughter (who started high school this month) with my in-laws and went to see Wilcox at the Narrows in Fall River.

Having not had the time or resources for many such small-venue concerts, my silly fandom tripped up my tongue all the more when I discovered the artist standing by the front door, greeting people and selling his CDs.  Being broke, I didn’t yet have his then-new album Into the Mysteryand was disconcerted to find I couldn’t scrape together enough money from the car-seat cushions to buy an autographed copy.  In sympathy, Wilcox pulled out of his backpack a CD that was fine but for a broken case and gave it to me for what I had.

Two things struck me about the music that evening and on his album.  The first was the newly overt Christianity of the lyrics, which meant a great deal to me as a recent convert.  The second was the lyrics to “City of Dreams,” about 9/11 and its aftermath.  As a conservative, one expects mainstream and folk musicians to hold views that differ from one’s own, and the words about unity in his song were all the more powerful because they bridged truly to my sense of an unexpected connection with the artist.

We are children of slavery
Children of immigrants
Remnants of tribes and their tired refugees
As the walls tumble down
We are stronger together
Stronger than we ever knew we could be
As strong as that statue that stands for the promise
Of liberty here in this city of dreams

As I contemplated, this morning, what I might write today, fifteen years on from the attack, the only theme that would come to mind is that we’ve squandered all that unity.  To be sure, I’m applying some gloss to the past, here.  My first-ever Providence Journal op-ed was titled (by me) “Who Are These People?,” and in November 2001, it detailed various points of view that were difficult to comprehend at that moment in American history.  The unity was not, by any means, complete.

By way of a quick articulation of my interpretation:  The strong emotions (rightly) evoked by the attack made it impossible for all but the most extreme or careless to express their views against the broadly shared culture of the United States.  Over the remainder of President Bush’s time in office, the Left (including the news media) sought justifications for renewing their contempt to the point that no attacks on the moderate (too liberal for my tastes) George W. Bush were treated as beyond the pale.  When it become plausible that a far-left (black) community organizer might be able to win the presidency, that ardency flipped from attack and jeremiad to hagiography, and any criticism of him became “racism” and any political resistance became justification for his trampling the Constitution and writing the legislature out of government, while setting his bureaucracies to cover up his inadequacies and block the organizing of his opponents.

Being a man of small character manifestly unsuited to and unqualified for his office at any time, but particularly at this time, Obama, with his Democrat and progressive enablers, proceeded to tear the country apart.  In the interest of time, I won’t detail the foreign and domestic policy evidence, much less the rhetorical and optical justification that Obama has provided for this view, but as a final indicator, take the farcical nature of the 2016 election, during which clear-headed supporters of both parties should be hoping for the author of history to come up with some implausible plot twist that reshuffles the deck within the next couple of months.

I take this to be an incontrovertible articulation of recent history.  Others will take it to be incontrovertible that my summary is a bunch of overwrought nonsense.  And there is no middle ground.  We’ve been left with no middle ground.  Even there, I see the smoldering bridge to be clearly the fault of progressives who’ve marched without respect for their neighbors’ rights, views, ideas, or feelings.  Progressives, no doubt, see it as the failure of their opponents to admit that they (progressives) have been proven correct and are “on the right side of history.” Again, not only isn’t there unity, but the lines along which we differ appear not to provide room for it.

So, where does that leave us?  Weary, for one thing; how I long to return to the emphasis on artistry and beauty from which 9/11/01 tore me.  And tremulous, for another, because I fear that, in our bickering, we’re ill prepared for the planes causing that low rumble in our culture as they glide toward the economic and geopolitical structures that unify us in the fundamental way that a well once unified a village.

  • Paul Kelly

    There was a sense of Patriotism ,civic can do attitude, and duty on 9/11..Because it started with the leadership at the top..I was activated for the attack,as were millions of others across the Nation.I wonder how our leadership at the top would react today if put in.the same situation.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Re: Obama. Philippine presidential comment on “son of a whore” set me to thinking. Google Obama, mother, nude, see what you get. There may be questions of authenticity, but I expect the KGB could get to the bottom of it. I know what we are expected to think, but what about “foreign leaders”? Does this story have currency among them?

  • Philip Spadola

    “My first-ever Providence Journal op-ed was titled (by me) “Who Are These People?,” and in November 2001, it detailed various points of view that were difficult to comprehend at that moment in American history. The unity was not, by any means, complete.”

    After a contested presidential election that saw the Supreme Court stop the recount of votes in Florida effectively handing the White House to George W. Bush , Democrats nonetheless worked with the new President on his educational reform bill. After the attacks on NY and DC Democrats joined with the administration and authorized the war in Afghanistan, passed the Administration’s Homeland Security act and then the authorization for the invasion of Iraq. This was not a show of unity? Your finger pointing editorial which was as cracked as your begged for CD was how Republicans responded to calls for unity. Complete unity to you means complete submission. After it became clear that the threat that comes in the shape of a mushroom cloud did not exist in the country we attacked ,Democrats rightfully resisted the Administration.

    • Justin Katz

      You’re so partisan. Society isn’t just Congress and national politicians. The op-ed listed specific examples entirely outside of government.
      More importantly, the notion that I oppose plurality and allowance of different views is the reverse of the truth. The unity of 9/11 was the understanding that we are unified in our concepts of liberty and love of our country and its founding principles. Progressives can’t stand this sort of unity, because it allows people room to be different and to believe things that progressives don’t like.

  • Philip Spadola

    “When it become plausible that a far-left (black) community organizer might be able to win the presidency”

    It is customary to refer to candidates by their title of highest held office. In this case the President should be referred to as the junior Senator from Illinois or simply Senator Barack Obama. But many black people understand that despite their accomplishments they will be only be n****** to some white people. Thanks for driving that point home.

    • Justin Katz

      Obama doesn’t deserve customary respect, not because of his race, but because of who he is and the damage he has done. Like your fellow leftists, you use racial epithets as a weapon to silence people.

      • Mike678

        A classic strawman argument–Phil does love his logical fallacies. #Ignorethetroll.

    • Max

      You can’t have it both ways Phil. The left was wetting themselves over having produced the first black president. Are you now saying his race was insignificant?

  • Justin Katz

    That’s some revisionist history. Much was forgiven because of his race. Media types made him a god and pledged to do what they could to make his presidency a success. Connections to MLK. Connections to Lincoln. Race had everything to do with it, and it’s had much to do with the failure of the news media and progressives to hold him accountable for his actions.

    • Philip Spadola

      If you don’t believe me check out George W. Bush’s memoirs.

  • Justin Katz

    Obama’s gotten a pretty blank check from the likes of you. That’s a large part of our problem, just now.

  • Max

    “Race had nothing to do with it.,What his race did get him was an overwhelming vote from non whites in the country.”
    …and whites tripping over themselves to elect the first black President. It’s happening again.Only this time it’s taking a little more to prop her up…literally. Welcome to ‘Weekend at Hillary’s’. The left is so concerned with milestones more than substance, they literally risked her life to cover it up. Take her to the damn hospital!

    • Philip Spadola

      “.and whites tripping over themselves to elect the first black President.”

      Thus says the person that does not have the fortitude to use their given name. Yes .Some whites saw a candidate who out campaigned the better known establishment choice and who clearly demonstrated the knowledge and ability to lead the country. Why would they not vote that way?

      • Rhett Hardwick
        • Max

          Nothing a little indoctrination.

      • Max

        Sucks when you know I’m right otherwise you wouldn’t need to question my identity. Worse than that is you don’t even believe half of what you wrote.

  • Raymond Carter

    I didn’t even vote in those “2009” elections!
    Why is this a-hole being allowed to post again?