I’d like to say something profound about 9/11, but find I have nothing profound to say. Instead, I carry around a mental patchwork of images from that day, along with a lot of strong feelings that I voice regularly in this blog. I’m incapable of weaving any of these threads into something coherent enough or meaningful enough to pay homage to the people who died that die. Certainly I know the changes it wrought in my own life. Before 9/11, I was a suburban homemaker, mildly distressed about George Bush’s “unfair” victory in Florida, but mostly concerned with the minutiae of my life. My older child was only four, my younger just a toddler. Every day was focused on childcare, housework and legal projects.
Then, a little before 7:00 P.S.T. in the morning on 9/11, a neighbor called: “Are you sending your kids to preschool today?” “Why?” “Turn on the TV.” I turned on the TV just in time to see the the first tower collapse. My husband and I sat there stunned. All we could say, over and over, was “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” We simply could not absorb the magnitude of the attacks and the scope of the human destruction. We knew right away that this was the work of Islamic terrorists. It could not be anyone else.
The only other vivid memory I have of that day is going to a client’s (school was in session so I had nothing else to do), and arriving at the building to see two men about to begin some external paint work. The first one said, “Did you hear about the two buildings in New York that got hit by airplanes? Thousands of people died.” The second, who apparently lived without media, replied, “Do you think I’m stupid. Why are you telling me something dumb like that?” I butted in (I’m the butting in type): “It’s true. Airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Towers collapsed and thousands of people are dead.” The second man’s reaction, when a stranger corroborated what he thought was his colleague’s crude joke was instantaneous: “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
My world, on that day, became binary: before and after, good and evil, us and them. If you understood that they were out to kill us, I respected you. If you denied that us/them divide, I could no longer respect you. President Bush got it, so he suddenly rose in my estimation. The Democrats quickly began to weasel, both because they felt obligated to take an un-Bush position and because, in their multi-culti morally relativistic world, they could not avoid their “it’s-all-our-fault, the-Third-World-is-innocent” mantra. I began to see liberals, not as well-intentioned dreamers, but as morally blind people with a cultural death wish. By 2004, my political renaissance solidified: I began my blog and, for the first time in my life, I voted Republican.
I’m still hemmed in by my suburban concerns. My kids are older now, but my daily life focuses on childcare, housework and legal projects. My community looms so large in my life that I keep my political views to myself (and, as I always say, they don’t come up in discussions about childcare, housework and legal projects), and I work hard to preserve my blogging anonymity. But even as my daily life hums along essentially unchanged, I’ve changed. My world is no longer secure. My children are at risk. I’m at risk (and I’m a coward).
From here on out, I’m going to bet on and support the strong horse. And to me, the Republicans are the strong horse. I know that Republicans in Congress have spent my money like water. I know that, as part of political gameplaying, they’ve made weak and sometimes dishonest compromises. I know that they hold certain positions with which I do not agree. But the important thing is that the Republicans get it. Republicans understood on 9/11, as I did, that we had suddenly thrust upon us a war to the death with a civilization that would like to see us utterly destroyed — our institutions, our beliefs, our communities, our lives. And the fact that this civilization acts through gangs and individuals, rather than through national armies, has nothing to do with the threat it poses us, nor should it affect our decision to bend our will to destroying the enemy before it destroys us.
UPDATE: I’d just written the above when I read this Rick Moran essay at American Thinker. It’s description of the way liberals think we ought to honor 9/11, not with a focus on the dead, but with peace songs, pretty much explains why I cannot escape the feeling that my former political compatriots are morally blind people with a cultural death wish.