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Thursday, September 11, 2003
The NY Times OP/ED Page marks September 11th…

So what’s on the Op/Ed pages of the paper of record this September 11th?

Maureen Dowd pens “We’re Not Happy Campers – Our incursion into Iraq is turning into a spun-out, scary lesson in the dangers of hubris.”

That’s right, “hubris.” She’s a peach isn’t she? “I've actually gotten to the point where I hope Dick Cheney is embroiled in a Clancyesque conspiracy to benefit Halliburton,” she writes. “Because if it's not a conspiracy, it's naïveté and ideology.” And there you have your Maureen Dowd view of the right, a difficult choice between greedy corporate war-monger, or naïve simplistic ideologue.

Then Thomas Friedman writes “Breaking Death’s Grip – Strong, resilient Israel is in a good position to try something new: investing in the Palestinians.”

This is a disgusting piece, as snide and disingenuous as you would expect. You know he’s setting you up when he writes: “Israelis' ability to adapt to, and defy, these bombings demonstrates the amazing strength of this society. When bus bombings first started, for a week after an explosion few people would ride the buses. Now they're right back on them after an hour. The radios used to stop playing upbeat music after a bombing; now they don't hesitate.”

It doesn’t take long though before he gets to the crux of his column: “message to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: Palestinians are not leaving either, and your iron fist will not make them accept Israeli settlements or a truncated Palestinian state. If you think Oslo was a failure, look at your alternative. In three years, some 850 Israelis have been killed under your strategy. Yours and Hamas's are two failed strategies that add up to a human meat grinder.” Sharon and Hamas, two morally equivalent strategic failures in Friedman’s mind – except I don’t for a second believe that Mr. Friedman holds Ariel Sharon in as high esteem as Hamas. Friedman talks about how Israel will need to “invest heavily” in the Palestinians, without any guarantee of success.” This he argues will force the Palestinians to respond in kind to Israel. Sure it will, like it has so many times over the preceding decades.

It boggles the mind that people can be so blind to blatant fact, to the repeating history playing out in front of them – but then I guess it shouldn’t.

And the NY Times Editors? Try these on:

“Two Years On – An outpouring of patriotism by Americans was one of the natural effects of Sept. 11, but the purity of our first reactions has been eroded by time.”

Now at first glance, I agree with this headline. The purity of our first reactions has eroded - faded – and we seem to have unfortunately returned to that cocoon we lived in before the gratuitous nature of the attacks was “alive” on our television screens. That was not, however, the point the editors were trying to make. No, the Times’ point, again as you would expect, was:

“It is worth reminding ourselves, on this day particularly, that we come no closer to understanding the significance of 9/11, at home and abroad, if we use the memory of what happened that morning falsely and vainly. It seemed as if two great tides emanated in response to the tragedy of that Tuesday. One was a sense of generosity, a deep compassion that expressed itself in immediate acts of cooperation and support. The other was a sense of patriotism, a strong consciousness of our American identity. When those two tides overlapped, as they often did in the months after 9/11, the result was impressive and profoundly moving. But we have also seen, in the past two years, a regrettable narrowing of our idea of patriotism. It has become, for some people in some ways, a more brittle expression of national sentiment — a blind statement of faith that does more to divide Americans from one another than to join them together.”

The editorial goes on to say that we need to understand that this was really “a local and particular, rather than universal, event.” That’s right, an aberration. Not at all indicative of an ongoing campaign of terror which included the first attack on the WTC, the Khobar towers, the US embassy bombings, the USS Cole, etc. No we must not look at this tragedy as part of any larger problem that requires a larger response. “Those buildings did not fall or their occupants die to become symbols in an incoherent argument. That outpouring of strength and consideration was never meant to serve as the pretext for false conclusions.” Are they really talking about Iraq here? Those “false connections?” Or are they saying something else to those knuckle-draggers amongst us that insist that those responsible pay, that they be addressed in such a way that they are never capable of doing this to us again? Aren’t really just asking us to “move on?”

And finally, no self respecting, morally equivalent and socially responsible editorial page would be complete with out reminding the US that while this was indeed a tragedy, that we’ve got some blood on our hands as well:

“The Other Sept.11 – Thirty years ago today in Chile, Gen. Augusto Pinochet staged a bloody U.S.-supported coup that led to the deaths of 3,000 people.”

“In the United States, Sept. 11 will forever be a day to remember our victims of terrorism. Yet our nation's hands have not always been clean, and it is important to recall Chile's Sept. 11, too.”

Can you imagine? Is this an American newspaper? (no need to answer that)

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