Sunday Morning Papers
September 11th Remembered
One of the greatest benefits about the internet is that nothing ever goes away. In this case, I'm not talking about Facebook pages of that ill-advised night with some guy on Spring Break, but rather that even the smallest event is captured, cataloged, and stored somewhere for retrieval.
In the days after September 11th, a small neighborhood newspaper in Chicago decided to poll the local politicians, and publish their reactions to the event. Included in the Hyde Park Herald's September 19th list of "Our Politicians Weigh-in on the Attack" was that of their state senator, Barack Obama:
Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe - children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.
George Bush wanted us to shop. Right there is the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush wanted to git the evildoers, and Obama's policy is nuanced, comforting, hopeful, and finishes with a call to action. Who knew that this column of local reactions might give some insight into foreign policy 10 years later?