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Kire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 05:52 AM
Original message
Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History
Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History

By JOSEPH J. ELLIS
Published: January 28, 2006
New York Times

IN recent weeks, President Bush and his administration have mounted a spirited defense of his Iraq policy, the Patriot Act and, especially, a program to wiretap civilians, often reaching back into American history for precedents to justify these actions. It is clear that the president believes that he is acting to protect the security of the American people. It is equally clear that both his belief and the executive authority he claims to justify its use derive from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A myriad of contested questions are obviously at issue here foreign policy questions about the danger posed by Iraq, constitutional questions about the proper limits on executive authority, even political questions about the president's motives in attacking Iraq. But all of those debates are playing out under the shadow of Sept. 11 and the tremendous changes that it prompted in both foreign and domestic policy.

Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved.

My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.

Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.

Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/28/opinion/28ellis.html?...
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CJCRANE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 07:02 AM
Response to Original message
1. IMO 9/11 was the defining moment in American history.
In fact the country should be renamed the United States of Septembereleventh and * be procaimed His Grand Highness the Commander-in-Chief of All Septembereleventhness.

NB: I'm not trying to denigrate the memory of 9/11, it's just that the neocons have fixated everything they do globally and domestically around it, when in fact it was their incompetence or negligence that allowed it to happen.
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ixion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. yep, negligence, incompetence or avarice
I like how the author puts the day in it's rightful historical context.

It did not, in fact, change anything. Who changed things were the Bush Cabal.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 07:35 AM
Response to Original message
3. A very important discussion..
We, as a nation, were defeated on September 11th, 2001. We did not know it at the time. But, from what has transpired since, I think it is obvious, we were defeated as a nation.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. and hense--this discussion has NOT taken place.
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pretzel4gore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 07:40 AM
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4. mythologised, or played down....
there are several ways to fashion the record so that certain guilty parties don't have to have their misdeeds stuck in-their-faces all the time; pearl harbour might be a good example, or the reichstag fire even better. only detail men know what the supposed truth is, while the herd gets a cartoonish version (bad guy does this, good guy finds out later, bad guy gets busted, good guy gets medal etc)....911 will go down like the jfk murder, and will give busybodies lotsa chances to make money selling books and advocating different scenerios (aliens from mars did it!) while the obvious truth, based upon the patterns of history and the 'cui bono' yardstick plus assessing how the results are reported (in a way, the easiest way to start is to check out what the pig wants you to believe, do a 180 degree and there's the truth, gone)...911 was staged, as was the hitler rise to power, regan/gopig rise to power, the start of ww2 for usa (pearl harbour) the murder of jfk, watergate and quite a few other events. the pigmedia lies, that is the first tenet of knowlege, therefore whatever they say can't be believed, even if they swear on a stack of people magazines
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 08:01 AM
Response to Original message
5.  a good Hx lesson: "overreaction is a greater danger than complacency"


....My second question is this: What does history tell us about our earlier responses to traumatic events?

My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the "quasi-war" with France; the denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers; the Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution; the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security; the McCarthy scare of the early 1950's, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry.

In retrospect, none of these domestic responses to perceived national security threats looks justifiable. Every history textbook I know describes them as lamentable, excessive, even embarrassing. Some very distinguished American presidents, including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, succumbed to quite genuine and widespread popular fears. No historian or biographer has argued that these were their finest hours.

What Patrick Henry once called "the lamp of experience" needs to be brought into the shadowy space in which we have all been living since Sept. 11. My tentative conclusion is that the light it sheds exposes the ghosts and goblins of our traumatized imaginations. It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 08:02 AM
Response to Original message
6. k and rec.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
8. What Patrick Henry once called "the lamp of experience" .. read on.
Interesting analytical concept to think about.




......What Patrick Henry once called "the lamp of experience" needs to be brought into the shadowy space in which we have all been living since Sept. 11. My tentative conclusion is that the light it sheds exposes the ghosts and goblins of our traumatized imaginations. It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-28-06 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. "it sheds exposes the ghosts /goblins of our traumatized imaginations'
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-29-06 01:02 AM
Response to Original message
10. K & R !
:kick:
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-29-06 04:17 AM
Response to Original message
11. KICKYPOO
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