Friday, September 11, 2009

The Great Divide After September 11, 2001

An interesting perspective from one who seems to be a conservative Democrat. I don't agree with everything, but she certainly makes a lot of sense:

RIP, American political civility

By Christine M. Flowers Philadelphia Daily News Sept. 11, 2009

WE PARCEL out time, fitting it neatly into calendar slots, and slicing it up into the manageable slivers in which our lives are lived. Then, one day, something happens that blows it all apart.

That's what happened eight years ago today. Like virtually every American with a job and obligations, I spent that Tuesday morning preoccupied with work and family and a passing appreciation for the glorious weather. Driving down South Broad, I paid absent-minded attention to the radio, heard the news of a plane crash in New York, then switched to music.

Only later, after coffee and message-checking and all the other habits that became lifelines to sanity in the following days did I realize time had been irrevocably fractured at 9:52 a.m.

We Americans like to think of ourselves as iconoclasts, proud of our pioneer heritage and the way we flipped the historical finger at our colonial oppressors. We talk about, and believe in, liberty and justice and are usually able to balance those competing interests when necessary.

Until Sept. 11, 2001.

That's when the flames and fury split the population in two along an invisible fault line - those who saw the world as it is and fought to meet the challenge in whatever way they thought necessary, and those who saw the world as they wanted it to be, and refused to violate their own concept of honor.

Both were convinced that they were the true patriots. The realists who ran into burning buildings, onto the battlefields and into the murkier recesses of what the Constitution permitted thought that they were preserving and protecting their country. The idealists, who believed they loved their country just as much, refused to accept that time had been shattered into pre-9/11 and post-9/11 pieces.

They rejected the idea that the debris left in the wake of the catastrophe bore little resemblance to what we had before, just as the Civil War and Pearl Harbor marked two great divides.

Nineteen men had rewritten our history that Tuesday morning and reconfigured the shape of this nation. The idealists acted as if, at heart, not much had changed and justice could prevail through the usual channels.

And so began the tectonic shift, the splitting in two of a country and a people, propelling all of us into the post-9/11 world where disagreement was construed as betrayal and neighbors learned to hate each other.

The realists say the idealists gave comfort to the enemy when they demanded criminal niceties for accused terrorists.

The idealists, in turn, said those realists were willing to undermine the core principles on which this country was based by sacrificing individual rights for national security.

A few voices have tried to bridge the vast divide, asking for a return to Sept. 10, when dissent was, if not civil, at least more rational.

But they're speaking into the wind. They don't understand that we're no longer just "Americans." We've turned, with a vengeance, into Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, Patriots and Traitors.

And I can't cast the first stone. I'm still at least a nominal Democrat, according to my voter registration. But the increasingly leftward drift of my party has left me wondering why I still call myself a Democrat. (And I'm sure I'm not alone in that.)

I'm certainly not in sync with a party that officially recognizes virtually no limits on abortion rights and promotes euthanasia as just another "end of life option." So I criticize them, especially those who think that accused terrorists - but not unborn children - are entitled to the full protection of the laws.

And yet, the Republicans aren't much better.

They usually fill the bill on the life issues, but mostly stand adamantly in the way of immigration reform, arguing that they're doing it in the interest of national security and ignoring the fact that most of the country's 12 million undocumented immigrants spend their days working, not plotting.

So where can I stand in this altered landscape? I, who think the unborn and immigrants (legal or not) are entitled to respect. Who believes that the Founding Fathers never meant to arm terrorists who would destroy us with the legal "rights" granted to citizens.

On 9/11, the terrorists did a lot more than bring down the Twin Towers. What died in the smoke and melting metal, along with our precious countrymen, was a big piece our shared identity as a people able to compromise.

If only we could turn back the clock.

Two quick but important points: 1. America is still here, not having been mass-attacked again - and with all liberties still intact, and 2. illegal immigrants are just that, illegal. A country that cannot control its borders ceases to be a sovereign nation.


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At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

9/11 is a "Day of Remembrance" and it will always be just that. It is not a "day of service". To call 9/11 anything but a "Day of Remembrance", is a slap in the face to all patriotic Americans. We will not let some inept, big eared narcissistic jackass and his Far Left ilk rewrite our history!


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