Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.
They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.
They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.
The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.
UPDATE: Probably the first of several—even many—updates, as more reactions roll in from the blogsphere.
From David French of National Review, in a post titled “The Case For Controlled And Sustained Rage.” (Emphasis added).
Every year on the eve of 9/11, my wife and I show our older kids pictures from the day. And every year I feel a fresh sense of rage at the attack. It’s a puzzling phenomenon of politically correct American life that almost immediately our media and national leadership began a long process of emotional de-escalation, a process that continues even after eleven years of war and continual, wholesale atrocities from our enemies. While nothing could shield the families of the fallen from the pain and reality of their loss, the networks “spared” the rest of us the worst of the images. And they “spare” us still today.
I’ve said this before, but if there is one lesson I learned during my own deployment, it’s that our enemy is far more evil than most Americans imagine. Their evil should trigger rage — a controlled rage — and it certainly does for our soldiers downrange. A morally depraved country attacked like we were on 9/11 would lash out wildly and indiscriminately, annihilating its enemies and anyone in their proximity. A morally weak country would shrink back, timidly, complying with terrorists demands. But our nation has largely responded in the right way, with a righteous anger that has in part sustained us through eleven years of continual conflict — a war that represents the most focused application of violence in the entire history of warfare.
On this eleventh anniversary, take a moment to view once again the images not just of that terrible day but also of the war that has followed. And when you do, remember that you are right to be angry — and that anger should renew your resolve.