Michael Totten

Moving Backwards

Brazilian journalist Nelson Ascher says the 911 attacks show history has been moving in the wrong direction.

I remember when a friend of mine came to visit me, maybe 15 years ago, with the newest issue of “Veja”, the Brazilian equivalent of Time magazine. He was outraged. That had to do with a teenage girl who lived in one of Sao Paulo’s most exclusive residential closed suburb had been gang-raped and killed. No, it wasn’t the crime that outraged my friend, but the fact that the magazine gave the story its cover-page. You see, he told me, had it been a poor black girl from the slums, she wouldn’t have made it even to the magazine’s most hidden page. I told him: of course not, but it’s not the slum-dwellers who subscribe to “Veja” and if such a thing can happen in the town’s wealthiest place, that’s a sign things are getting really bad and that’s news. I also told him: if you happen to find a roach at night in your kitchen, that means there’s at least one roach in your house. But if you find one at high noon in your living-room you can be sure your house’s roach-infested.

That’s one of the meanings of 9/11. That you cannot be safe in Darfur or Beirut, in the Phillipines or Indonesia, that’s a problem. But if you can be murdered by Islamic terrorists while you’re on the top floor of the WTC, then that’s not a problem anymore. That’s much bigger. The progressive idea was to turn, for instance, Beirut into NY. If that’s not being accomplished, this is bad enough. But when people start turning NY into Beirut, we’re definitely moving backwards. And fast.

Indeed. We need to push the other way for a change. This is no time for a conservative holding-pattern.