9.10.2006

Thoughts on the Sept. 11 anniversary: "Relativism" vs. "Horrorism"

I suppose that Sept. 11th is "Kennedy Assassination Moment" of my generation. I will always remember where I was when I heard the news... At the time I was working for a doomed telecom consulting firm that had a large (1/2 the staff) layoff on Sept 10, 2001. The company had contracts with the Port Authority in NY and had done a survey of telecom assets at the World Trade Center. So when I came to work on September 11, the office was already very subdued because of the layoffs the day before. As soon as the first plane hit the WTC an engineer in New York called the office with the news. The remaining staff spent the rest of the day watching the events unfold (what a cold impersonal phrase: We were watching thousands of people die violently) on a old television dragged up from a workout room in the basement with a coat hanger as an antenna.

Another memory I have is of how beautiful the weather was (very clear blue skies, warm, no wind) and the eerie silence in Burlington caused by the shutdown of the airport in the days afterward.

I am a graduate of a well known liberal arts college, something I have lots of ambivalence about (this subject could provide endless blog fodder), and something that really drove me crazy about the experience was the emphasis on faux-diversity, political correctness, whole-hearted acceptance of liberal orthodoxies, etc.

There always was a willingness in this environment to spout off on the big issues of the day, quite loudly, and in a very moralizing fashion. This moralizing, however, stopped when it came to any kind of personal behavior, where it was very much anything goes: Very little in this regard would be condemned.

This dichotomy drove me to distraction. It was such a relativistic environment: The one thing that could get an individual into trouble, was spouting off (in word or deed) against the prevailing sexual/racial mores. That would bring the full weight of the administration crashing down on some hapless miscreant.

In this hothouse post-adolescent environment, there was a marked reluctance to condemn other societies, it was a very politically correct, walking on eggshells kind of atmosphere. An example of this would be a quote from the German prime minister today:

"In the fight against international terror ... respect for human rights, tolerance and respect for other cultures must be the maxim of our actions, along with decisiveness and international cooperation,"

I will go on record and publicly state that I have no 'tolerance and respect' for the diseased corrupt societies of the Middle East. There is a certain lack of willingness to call a spade a spade... These are cultures that sit around teaching children to read the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and glorifying horrifying violence (snuff videos) and engaging in fratricidal sectarianism. It has little to do with colonialism or imperialism... people create their own realities.

Now I have lots of issues with what goes on in America today (hurtling towards the Apocolypse without outside help) but I find it personally insulting that my existence is threatened by a bunch of ignorant, bigoted, and incredibly sexist men from wild and ungovernable tribal areas of Pakistan... just about the most backwards place on earth.

Anyway Martin Amis had a very long essay on these subjects in Sunday's Guardian and it is worth checking out, parts are actually pretty funny, where he talks about the sexual motives behind all of this... Age of Horrorism (long, three parts).

And Christopher Hitchens printed this catalog of actrocties in today's WSJ:

In the past five years, I have either registered or witnessed or protested at
or simply "observed" the following:
(1) The reopening of a restaurant in Bali, where several dozen Australian holidaymakers and many Indonesian civilians
had earlier been torn to shreds. (2) The explosion of a bomb at a Tube station
in London which is regularly used by two of my children. (3) The murder of a
senior Shiite cleric outside his place of worship in Iraq. (4) The attempt to
destroy the Danish economy--and to torch Danish embassies and civilians--as a
consequence of the publication of a few caricatures in the Danish press. (5) The
murder of the U.N. envoy to Baghdad: a heroic Brazilian named Sergio Vieira de
Mello, as vengeance (according to his murderers) for his role in shepherding
East Timor to independence. (6) The near-successful attempt to blow up the
Indian parliament in New Delhi, and two successful attempts to disrupt the
commerce and society of Mumbai. (7) The destruction of the Golden Dome in
Samara: a place of aesthetic as well as devotional importance. (8) The bombing
of ancient synagogues in Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco. (9) The evisceration in
the street of a Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, and the lethal threats that
drove his Somali-born colleague, a duly elected member of the Dutch parliament,
into hiding and then exile. (10) The ritual slaughter on video of a Jewish
reporter for this newspaper.

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