Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 5 Comments
It has been six years and as the clock ticks and the calendar pages turn, 9/11 has come around again. With the new millennium, September has become the cruelest month. A month of remembrance. But what do we really remember?
Six years ago 9/11 was the genesis of a national transformation, Americans uniting as one people, courage was the order of the day and the same virtues that had characterized America's greatest moments were on displays. And then most of us went to sleep again.
And now the memorials will come again. But memorialization is often more about us than it is about those we remember. Monuments like tombstones, services and candle holding are coping strategies to help us deal with our grief. They are important to help the living deal with their pain but commemoration does not create meaning or address the real aftermath of 9/11. They are only ways to contain and limit the pain.
There were two types of memorials built in the aftermath of the Holocaust. One type is the kind you can see anywhere, statues, symbols, plaques and ceremonies. The other kind was the State of Israel.
After the Holocaust there were those who believed that simply commemorating and remembering was enough, that reminding a world that had not cared when six million were murdered would somehow transform it, turning violence into tolerance. That memory was a tool that could uplift and teach about the evils of hatred. They were wrong. Today another Holocaust is being planned in Tehran this time not Berlin and much of the world energetically waves its arms around to call a halt to any plans to stop it. Including the very same liberals who have spend the last half century imbibing tolerance with their mother's milk.
But that is because the lesson of murder should never be tolerance but intolerance, intolerance of evil. Not intolerance of nationalism or religious extremism or fanaticism or any other generic euphemism but evil. What is evil? In this case the answer is surprisingly simple. Evil defines the sort of people who would perpetrate another Holocaust or another 9/11.
In the face of evil, remembrance is the last resort of the defeated. Six years after 9/11 its own commemoration has traveled the same path as that of the Holocaust commemorations in a fraction of the time. 9/11 has spawned its own historical revisionists, the Truthers, determined that 9/11 never happened or that the Jews or the government was behind it. 9/11 has become a fit subject for snickering, for jokes and for satire. The very act of remembering or commemorating 9/11 is itself mocked as phony and self-indulgent.
Today as the commemorations will commence at Ground Zero, Truthers will gather there too like carrion crows, shrieking and hawking their contempt and their hatred for the ceremonies and for the dead. And we will tolerate them. We will not drag them off and beat them. Anyone who attempts to do that will be arrested. Because we are tolerant of evil and for as long as we tolerate evil, our commemorations and memorials remain nothing more than a coping strategy. As long as we compromise our intolerance of evil, we are undone.
The State of Israel, the American victory in Afghanistan were memorials of action, done firmly and resolutely, driven perhaps by pain but driven more fundamentally by the understanding that they needed to... that they must be done. The destruction of evil is the only fitting memorialization to those slain by evil because it and only it can insure that no more die in this way. It is not enough to remember without doing. It is not enough to commemorate the dead without remembering the living.
On September 11, 3000 Americans were murdered. Some died in shock. Some died in agony. Some died in flames and some died in the rush of air as they fell. They were murdered but they were only the beginning. 9/11 was not a tragedy, it was a war. It is a war we are still fighting. The proper memorial for 9/11 is not in cupped hands holding candles but in the soldiers and pilots of the United States standing on watch and going out on their missions against the enemy knowing why they are fighting and what they are fighting for.
Guantanamo Bay is a better memorial for 9/11 than any construction of stone, glass and steel that will ever rise. A bullet in the head of an Al Queda terrorist is a better commemoration for this terrible day than any act of verbal elocution. A tower rising to the sky, an airplane passing overhead, are a fist clenched high in defiance by the civilized world against the uncivilized, by men against savages and human beings against subhuman barbarians.
There was only one Holocaust commemoration that mattered and it took place when Israeli Air Force jets flew over Auschwitz. The dead of Auschwitz had no need for candles and for your grief. They needed to know that even though they died, there would be someone to protect their grandchildren, their nephews and nieces, the descendants of their brothers and sisters of the Jewish people. A single jet is a more fitting memorial to the dead than a million monuments for a jet today has the power to prevent another Holocaust while a million monuments cannot.
The day an F-22 flies over Mecca is the day a fitting memorial to 9/11 will be built. Until then we have but words as clumsy tools with which to dull the pain while fighting for the future.