Monday, September 11, 2006


Of all the 9/11 reflections, Peggy Noonan's struck me the most deeply as getting gently, firmly, immediately, and most truthfully to the heart of that day.

This day reminds us. We are are an exceptional nation, the best of all nations. We are a nation at war with evil and brutality, with people who hate us and want to kill us for no other reason than that we exist. We must defeat them totally or they will kill all of us. Only America has the strength and the will to save the world for freedom. And because we are Americans, what else can we do but succeed? It is the nature of the American to prevail.

Five years later we bicker between political parties, we obsess about what planet Tom Cruise's baby was born on, we debate social security and tax cuts. We laugh at Snakes on a Plane. Our economy roars, in spite of all attempts by some to convince people it hardly meows. The conspiracy nuts concoct their laughable theories of US Fascism, post them under their own names, and then blilthy walk the streets, unmolested by the most free government in the world that is far too concerned about the real world to notice them. We grumble about gas prices, and then drive whenever and wherever we want anyway. The worst our enemies have been able to do to us here at home since 9/11 are a lone gunman in Seattle and a lone sidewalk-driving rampage in San Francisco. All of these things are signs of our massive strength and resilience. All of them make me proud.

Five years ago, we swore as a nation that we would never forget these things, that America is at war, and that American exceptionalism will ensure that freedom prevails. Some forgot anyway, an ironic consequence of our strength and success.

But most of us remember that vigilance is the price of freedom. We know that this day must remind us that freedom isn't free, and that our enemies still want to slaughter flight attendants with box cutters. We know that we are safer but not safe, that we don't deserve to be attacked, that peace is achieved through strength, not weakness, and that we need feel no guilt in killing our enemies. And it is because we know these things that I am proud to be an American on this day.


Cato said...

Vigilance is indeed the price of freedom, Orrin. I'm glad we've got people being vigilant toward the external threats to our freedom. I'm also glad we've got people who are vigilant toward the internal threats to our freedom. I think that a lot of the people who have been accused of forgetting 9/11 just drew different lessons from it, and it's probably a good thing that we've got plenty of people looking at this thing from different angles. After all, diversity of thought and opinion is what makes this country strong, and ultimately triumphant.

Orrin Johnson said...

Hear, hear! I think the Federalist Society is on the cutting edge of helping protect our internal freedoms, even if we disagree about where those lines are and what those threats may be. I was referring to those who don't believe there is a significant external threat at all, not to those who would disagree with me about the correct placement of the ballance between safety from our murderous enemies and our personal freedoms.