I came across this NYTimes op-ed today. It is stunning in oh so many ways. Rather than try to describe it, I'll just dive in with the quotes.
"Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved."
WTF?!?!?! Whether or not we can regard 9/11 as history???? As opposed to what? Fantasy? A really bad dream maybe? Or Pearl Harbor deja vu????? Just what ARE the choices here?
"My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.
Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility."
First question Professor, just what do you think radical Islam is if not a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism? Daniel Pipes, in his book "Radical Islam Reaches America", lays out in plain language just how the radical Islamist threat is equal (if not greater) to the totalitarian threat of Nazism and Fascism. We loose this war and again, no United States of America. The War of 1812 was not just about one city being burned, we were warding off a bully that wanted to strip this country of it's sovereignty, JUST LIKE TODAY ..only THEN there were a lot less casualties. In the War of 1812, there were a total of 2,260 Americans killed in action. We lost more American lives on 9/11 alone! As far as property damage goes, comparing like dollars for like, it will cost more to rebuild the World Trade Center property alone than it cost to rebuild all of Washington DC after the War of 1812. Now let's look at WWII - specifically the attacks on Pearl Harbor (again comparing like for like). When the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, 3,581 military personnel and 108 civilians were either killed or injured. Again, this pales in comparison to the number of civilians killed or injured during the 9/11 attacks.
My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the "quasi-war" with France; the denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers; the Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution; the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security; the McCarthy scare of the early 1950's, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry.
In retrospect, none of these domestic responses to perceived national security threats looks justifiable. Every history textbook I know describes them as lamentable, excessive, even embarrassing. Some very distinguished American presidents, including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, succumbed to quite genuine and widespread popular fears.
Lamentable, yes. Excessive, maybe. Embarassing....would you really consider protecting the lives of innocent civilians to be embarassing?
There is an old saying, perhaps Professor Ellis has heard it once or twice before....he who refuses to learn from history is doomed to repeat it. While the good Professor may think that we should "evolve" from the past, once thing is certain. There are those who are always going to try to subjugate others. Negotiations will not work with these people. They do not play by the rules so we have to "stoop" to their level. It is a matter of survival for us and our children.