James Lileks And A Bit Of Wisdom


Posted on : 9/11/2010 10:54:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Glenn Reynolds has posted a link to something that James Lileks wrote two years after 9/11/2001.  James is a tremendous writer.  I've been reading his stuff for decades. 

He has a couple things spot on...

Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims. Of course some people are impatient with those who still recall the shock of 9/11; the same people were crowding the message boards of internet sites on the afternoon of the attacks, eager to blame everyone but the hijackers. They hate this nation. In their hearts, they hate humanity. They would rather cheer the perfect devils than come to the aid of a compromised angel. They can talk for hours about how wrong it was to kill babies, busboys, businessmen, receptionists, janitors, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers - and then they lean towards you, eyes wide, and they say the fatal word:


And then you realize that the eulogy is just a preface. All that concern for the dead is nothing more than the knuckle-cracking of an organist who’s going to play an E minor chord until we all agree we had it coming.

The people who attacked us will not be satisfied with a diminished US presence on the world stage.  They want our beacon of individual liberty extinguished precisely because the premise of an individual being free to reject their distorted, tortured ideology undermines their authority to dictate how people live...or not.

The continued refusal by some to understand this simple truth is a "grim comfort", as James puts it.  If they can remain willfully blind to the objectives of our enemy in this conflict, then we must be doing a pretty fair job of fighting it.

I’ve no doubt that if Seattle or Boston or Manhattan goes up in a bright white flash there will be those who blame it all on Bush. We squandered the world’s good will. We threw away the opportunity to atone, and lashed out.  Really? You want to see lashing out? Imagine Kabul and Mecca and Baghdad and Tehran on 9/14 crowned with mushroom clouds: that’s lashing out. Imagine the President in the National Cathedral castigating Islam instead of sitting next to an Imam who's giving a homily. Mosques burned, oil fields occupied, smart bombs slamming into Syrian palaces. We could have gone full Roman on anyone we wanted, but we didn’t. And we won’t.

Which is why this war will be long.

It will be a long war.  And not unlike the spring of 1942, it isn't exactly clear that we will win.  I have no doubt that we have the brains, the people, and the resources to utterly destroy the intolerant and extremist strain of Islam that is causing so much trouble in the world.

I wonder if we have the will to do so.

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