A good friend sent me a Charles Krauthammer Washington Post column in which he did more than suggest that anyone who believes that our national reaction to 9/11 was too decidedly bathed in fear is flat wrong. "Our current difficulties and gloom are almost entirely economic in origin, the bitter fruit of misguided fiscal, regulatory and monetary policies that had nothing to do with 9/11," Krauthammer writes. "America’s current demoralization is not a result of the war on terror. On the contrary. The denigration of the war on terror is the result of our current demoralization, of retroactively reading today’s malaise into the real — and successful — history of our 9/11 response."
Krauthammer, who regulary views national affairs from a place on the political right, is decidedly tired of the liberal rant which claims that, among other things, the Bush ventures into Iraq and Afghanistan have been churned out of overreaction. He demurs.
I think I've thought enough about 9/11, and, sadly, today is 9/11. After reading my students' papers, I wonder whether my assignment was as good as I'd cooked it up to be. They all have memories of the day, of course, but for them, at ten-years-old, not much the madness of that day really registered. What may well be most poignant is the memory many of them have of teachers, parents, and other adults being so inexplicably and sober, so emotional, as in "I'll never forget my father's face."
I've thought enough about 9/11, enough to know that Krauthammer may be right. Maybe we haven't overreacted. Maybe. But maybe we did too.
I'm thinking of C. S. Lewis, who once said about Satan, the king of lies, that one could make two significant mistakes when it came to assessing the work of the Devil--one could underestimate him, or one could overestimate him.
Somewhere in between lies the healthy ground where we can and should stand. Like so much else in life, balance is the watchword.
And I remember teaching in a course in the literature of the Holocaust in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII and the liberation of the camps. Somewhere around 12 weeks in, I simply could no longer ready what I'd assigned--I'd had enough.
I've thought enough about 9/11. Time to move along.
Photo?--Along a country road, a bridge at least a century old provides a home for swallows.