Monday, September 11, 2006

Quick Thoughts From Lileks And Steyn

Taken from this NRO "9/11: Did It Change Us?" symposium:

James Lileks

Half a decade later the changes seem small, and perhaps that’s a blessing. If 9/11 had been followed by 10/17, 11/02, 12/24, the Smallpox Epidemic of ’02, the EMP blackouts of ’03, and so much promiscuous anthrax distribution that mailmen tottered around in Hazmat suits on the hottest day of July, America would look quite different. But the other shoe didn’t drop — or rather, Richard Reid was KO’d before he could light it — and consequently we don’t look at the paper for news about the latest attack. We look at the ads in the paper for news about plasma-TV sales.

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

The good news? We returned to our norm: cheerful industrious self-directed Americans who think in terms of fiscal quarters, not ancient grievances, and trust in Coke and Mickey to spread our message of tolerance and prosperity. The bad news? Same as the good. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Mark Steyn

In the end, very little changed. The so-called “9/11 Democrats” are almost as invisible a presence as the “moderate Muslim,” and, insofar as one can tell, are most likely outnumbered by members of the Scowcroftian unrealpolitik Right still wedded to stability uber alles. In theory, if you’d wanted to construct an enemy least likely to appeal to the progressive Left, wife-beating gay-bashing theocrats would surely be it. But Islamism turned out to be the ne plus ultra of multiculti diversity-celebration — for what more demonstrates the boundlessness of one’s “tolerance” than by tolerating the intolerant. The Europeans’ fetishization of the Palestinians — whereby the more depraved the suicide bombers are the more brutalized they must have been by the Israelis — has, in effect, been globalized.

Anyone who’s mooched about the Muslim world for even brief amounts of time is struck by what David Pryce-Jones calls its “intellectual poverty”: It has a remarkable lack of curiosity about anything beyond its horizons. That hobbled it for centuries in its wars against the west. But our multicultural mindset is its mirror image: For isn’t the principle characteristic of “multiculturalism” its almost total lack of curiosity about other cultures? The multicultis make bliss of ignorance: You don’t need to know anything about Islam, you just have to feel warm and fluffy about it, and slap that “CO-EXIST” bumper sticker on your Subaru. If you want to know how little changed on 9/11, look at how it’s being observed in the nation’s schools.

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