A monumental difference exists between the two epic attacks on American soil — Pearl Harbor and September 11th.
Pearl Harbor has been resolved. September 11th has not and may never be in our lifetimes and beyond.
That is a bleak but inescapable conclusion.
Pearl Harbor precipitated an all-out war with Japan and, shortly after, Germany, which ended after a few exceptionally brutal years. Japan and Germany (after unification) then became our allies and are now, even in the current context, prosperous, modern democratic states.
September 11th has precipitated no such thing. From the beginning we were unsure how to name our adversary (or unwilling to) and how to deal with him or her. That has only become worse. Now we live in a time when we can’t even call the perpetrator of the Ft. Hood massacre a jihadist even though he was taking his marching orders from a man we killed because he was a jihadist.
At this same moment, the entire Middle East is morphing into a fundamentalist Islamic mega-state under the nonsensical rubric of the “Arab Spring.” Meanwhile, like docile sheep we line up at airports to take off our shoes and have our genitals examined. Most of our children cannot remember what it was to fly without this humiliating inconvenience. One time — in a universe far, far away — we used to walk those same children onto the plane to go see their relatives. Remember that? Remember those days? As far as we can tell, they are gone forever.
The legacy of September 11th is everywhere, in our schools, in our military, in our police forces, in our churches, and, of course, in our media — all of whom have been overwhelmed by a reactionary political correctness.
At first it wasn’t that way. In the early months and years after September 11th, we were “one people” as I have never experienced it, almost “Great Generation”-like in our determination. Those days are long gone. We live now in an atmosphere of permanent insecurity, a kind of self-imposed fog whose next development, it seems depressingly inevitable, will be a nuclear Iran.
Yes, every year on September 11th we celebrate the sterling behavior of first responders on the fateful day (and we should) as well as praise ourselves for not having had a similar event (keep your fingers crossed)… but nothing has changed. It has only gotten worse.