Forget the Real Villains of 9/11
remember that day like few in my life, before or since.
Hoboken, N.J., right across the river from Lower Manhattan, I woke up at
around 9 a.m. and checked my e-mail. I had one from a close friend with
the subject line “my mom’s okay… I think.”
just hit the World Trade Center,” my friend wrote. But she was pretty
sure that her mother had taken that day off to shop for dinner for Rosh
Hashanah, the Jewish holiday scheduled for a few days later. Luckily,
she was right, and her mom survived, just as she had survived the 1993
attack. But nearly 3,000 Americans that day weren’t quite so lucky.
I turned on
the TV and saw that unbelievable sight, of the Twin Towers on fire. I
had only moved to the New York area a year before, and the towers had
been part of my knowledge of the city for as long as I’d been aware of
it. And in Hoboken I lived, literally, in their shadow.
sitting dumbfounded for a few hours, I decided to go outside and walk
around Hoboken. There, I saw hundreds of people walking around with
their heads down, unable to comprehend what they had just seen. Walking
into a bar called Hennessey’s, all I saw were a couple of dozen people,
starting at CNN in stunned silence.
was to park myself in front of the TV for weeks, attempting to
understand as much as I could about what had happened and why. And from
that period, we can all remember bits and pieces of what followed: Rudy
Giuliani’s unquestionable heroism. The Congressmen singing “God Bless
America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, signaling that brief period
when it actually appeared as though partisanship was being put aside for
the greater good. The terror scare at Boston’s Copley Place Hotel the
next day. The days the following week when baseball and football
returned to action with patriotic fervor.
All domestic political disputes aside, we were attacked that day by
a vicious, vile enemy, one that hates everything that we hold dear. We
owe them no apologies, and no rationalizations. It could have been
prevented, with more diligence from both of the most recent presidential
administrations. But, independently of other mistakes they made in their
presidencies, neither Clinton nor Bush is the bad guy in the 9/11 story.
Osama Bin Laden is.
years since the towers fell, neither political party has much to be
proud of. No, there has not been another domestic attack, and for that
the Bush Administration deserves credit.
have not found Osama Bin Laden, they have been slow to confront
terrorist regimes in Iran and North Korea, and the Iraq project has not
succeeded in its objective of creating stable democracy in the Middle
East. And they have mandated the use of all sorts of tactics — from
torture, to secret prisons, to wiretapping of domestic phone calls
— that are contrary to the American democratic spirit.
As for the
Democrats, way too many of them have made it clear that they do not
grasp that we are in a life-and-death struggle with an enemy that is the
most illiberal force on Earth. I don’t believe the Democratic Party as a
whole is soft on terror, but I do think they need to be more vocal in
denouncing those who are, while making clear that Osama Bin Laden is a
great deal more of a villain than Bush or Cheney ever will be. As for
the kooks in the alleged “9/11 Truth” movement, the less said about them
And as disgracefully as anything else, the former sight of the
World Trade Center remains mostly unbuilt five years later, due to
infighting among city and state government, developers, architects and
even the 9/11 families. As it often does, The Onion said it best
with its headline, “NYC Unveils 9/11 Memorial Hole.”
Sadly, way too many Americans have exploited 9/11 for the past five
years in order to further their own political goals, and this is
something that must not be tolerated. In the meantime, we must devote
today to remembering those who died on that day, and assuring that such
a day never happens to us again.
© 2006 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
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