Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two thought-provoking 9/11 items

Well, two and a half items. Call it a lagniappe. (You're welcome.) The first item-and-a-half involves Fareed Zakaria, who always makes my IQ go up when I listen to him. The second item is not one I totally agree with, but the writer does use 9/11 to discuss religious tolerance and national holidays in a more creative way than most I've seen.

1. Here's a video of Fareed Zakaria and Peter Bergen forcing Anderson Cooper to have a non-sensationalistic conversation for a few minutes. No shouting or interruptions from anyone. Don't watch it if you can't handle people talking in complete sentences and not frothing at the mouth:

1.5. The CNN page containing the above video has a more extensive text interview with Zakaria. Not the same as the video, but complementary. Worth the click-through:

2. The following Slate article by Jack Shafer (h/t to a JJP commenter for pointing me to it) actuallly woke me up by being a bit impertinent at the outset. But it kept me tuned in by referring to how we, as a nation, observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (and a few others).

One thing that I noticed in Shafer's article was what wasn't there-- the dog that didn't bark, if you will. He doesn't discuss how the U.S. military and defense establishment treat 9/11, year after year. They mourn and observe, of course, and then get back to work. They don't make a big deal out of it, not compared with New York and politicians of all ilks. They don't claim to "own" it because of the Pentagon strike, which killed people as surely as the Twin Towers attack.

The other thing was a somewhat divergent discussion about holiday observances, including the "blanding" of the MLK holiday and others. He's more right than he knows, as I have already seen January sale ads with caricatures of King. "Content of their character, 50% off and more!" Not quite that bad yet, not like Presidents Day with idiots in Washington & Lincoln costumes, but wait for it.

And the World Trade Center site is not hallowed ground.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, at 5:36 PM ET

Every year, the custody battle over 9/11 becomes more contentious. The current furor over the proposed construction of an Islamic center a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center footprint has made this anniversary of the carnage at the towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa., more prickly than usual... [much more at link]


Cobb said...

I find this counter to Zakaria, appropriate and better researched.

ProfGeo said...

IMO both the Ed Morrissey article at Hot Air, and the New Republic article from which he draws, fail to counter Zakaria's points as he stated them. (CNN headlines may have distracted them.)

For example, the fact that France and Great Britain responded in certain ways based on their distinct national cultures and needs, and that we have not completely followed in their footsteps regarding surveillance measures, does not disprove Zakaria's points.

Zakaria meant "overreact" in two specific senses. Here's what he said (emphasis added):

Zakaria: ...We didn't spend a lot of time in the year after 9/11 -- once we had taken it on, once we had started chasing these people around the world, measures which I strongly supported then and still strongly support -- whether that had been effective and whether we had broken up the organization and made it far more difficult for them to operate. And therefore, what was the real nature of the threat going forward?

I think it's clear that al Qaeda is a much-diminished force. It has the power to inspire a series of local organizations around the world, but it has very little power to direct these high-profile terrorist attacks itself. The reaction to my point that al Qaeda is weaker than we think has surprised me only because I've made this point since 2004, and I've made it repeatedly...

The second sense in which I mean it is I do think there is a tendency within the American appropriations system for projects to become eternal and eternally expanding and this has clearly become true of homeland security. Nobody wants to deny the request for more security, more measures, more procedures, all of which come with more budgets, more bureaucrats ...

CNN: So what should be done now?

Zakaria: This would be the right time for us to take a look and ask ourselves, in order to combat the actual threat that al Qaeda poses, which is real but which is limited in some senses -- what kind of intelligence apparatus do we need, what kind of homeland security apparatus do we need and how much can we do in terms in reallocating, reorganizing and reinventing these national security agencies rather than constantly piling up layer upon layer.