9/11 aftermath: Terrorists 10, civilization 1

by

For a few days back in 2001, the issue was clear: civilization versus barbarism, creation versus destruction, life versus death. And for a few days, even the symbolism was clear. For the first time in my life, I actually bought a US flag and displayed it. There was, and is, absolutely no doubt where I stand on the fundamental issue.

In the days that followed, those of us who do not believe in collective guilt did what we could in our small individual ways, for example making a point to patronize Afghan restaurants. I was pleased to observe that there seemed to be many like-minded advocates of civilization.

Of course, it was apparent even on 9/11 itself that the terrorists were almost certain to succeed in using the strengths of civilization to undermine civilization. The terrorists committed a small retail atrocity; the wholesale overreaction has been massively destructive to the values of civilization.

Ten years hence, civilization has weakened itself substantially, spending money it could not afford, destroying life and property, both within the allegedly civilized countries and in the countries whose populations had the misfortune to be born on the wrong side of a boundary, and creating hostility that did not exist before. We — I hesitate to use the term, because I am personally nothing more than an unwilling financial resource for this disaster — have curtailed civil liberties almost to the extent the terrorists themselves would have.

Our governments claim to know things we do not, and perhaps they are even occasionally telling the truth. As Sam Spade observed with regard to Miss Wonderley, “I took it for granted that she was lying,” whereupon the fat man agreed, “Not an injudicious thing to do.”

The game continues, of course: 10-1 is perhaps only a halftime score. But it’s hard to imagine civilization rallying. Wisdom is in vanishingly short supply in the governments of the allegedly civilized world.

There is no question that the barbarians are the enemy, but the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. We are today at far greater risk from our own governments than from the barbarians.

Advertisements

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: