We Are the Guardians of Memory

Ten years on, 9/11 is a heavily edited memory.  The editorial process began immediately, when our betters decided we couldn’t handle images of people leaping to their deaths from the burning towers, while Palestinians danced in the streets and handed out candy.

I’m not just talking about differing interpretations of 9/11 and its aftermath.  It was the most significant event of a generation.  It changed everything for a little while, and some things forever.  Naturally, it is viewed from many different perspectives, by people who come to dramatically different conclusions about its causes and effects.

What I caution against is the attempt to rewrite the event, rather than just interpreting it.  The reasons for the attack, and the nature of the perpetrators, have been swaddled in the cotton of political correctness, and buried deep in the muck of cultural self-loathing.  The White House went as far as issuing official instructions to “minimize references to al-Qaeda” because they’re “increasingly irrelevant” as we observe the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  That’s incredibly wrong-headed.  Their debatable “irrelevance” today should not diminish our memory of how relevant they were in the fall of 2001.

The actual words of Osama bin Laden, the Koran verses and “Allahu akhbar!” battle cries, have been discarded so we can listen to idiots drone on about “chickens coming home to roost,” or float theories that President Bush somehow orchestrated a titanic conspiracy to bring the towers down.

It’s remarkable how persistent that bit of stupidity remains, isn’t it?  Trutherism survives because the rest of us have not quite risen to the challenge of policing the borders of history.  Leftists feel free to dance around the edge of that howling intellectual void without dire consequences for their reputations.  Celebrities flirt playfully with evil that would have permanently revoked their invitations into America’s movie theaters and living rooms, in an age less tolerant of vandalism against sacred memory.

Yes, evil is the right word for the 9/11 conspiracy nuts.  They’re far worse than stupid.  It takes only a moment’s reflection to see the absurdity of somehow covering up a demolition project that would have required thousands of explosives and months of preparation, then keeping the lid on that astonishing conspiracy for ten years and counting.  Another moment would lead anyone with minimal sentience to appreciate the malevolent foolishness of attributing such remorseless, inhuman evil to so many people, from the President on down to the teams of covert explosives experts, and the horde of janitors and night watchmen who would have to accommodate them. 

The Truthers are making a deliberate attempt to corrupt history, allowing the real perpetrators of 9/11 off the hook so they can amass political power, for deployment against domestic enemies they hate far worse than al-Qaeda.  It’s the same game we’ve seen Holocaust deniers play for decades.  To the credit of Americans, their audience within these shores has been far smaller, and treated the way “9/11 Truthers” should be treated.

The civilized world has long understood the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust.  There’s a deeply moving Holocaust film, Sarah’s Key, playing in theaters right now.  Our duty to those murdered on 9/11 is the same.  The children of 9/11 will stand alongside the grandchildren of the Holocaust, look upon the sites of atrocity from New York City to Auschwitz, and say together: “Never again.  When all of mankind says those words in unison, we will finally have learned the speech of angels.

It’s easy enough to look back over the last decade and second-guess decisions made in the face of an uncertain future.  There have been efforts to suggest we “over-reacted” to the attacks.  You can see proof against this argument by checking today’s news, and noting stories from Afghanistan.  80 Americans were wounded, and five Afghan civilians were killed, when a truck bomb detonated at a U.S. military base just last night.  If we had “over-reacted” to 9/11, we would be five thousand years away from hearing any fresh news out of Afghanistan. 

If you’re old enough to remember September 11, 2001, you have a duty to those who are not.  Tell them how you felt when screen crawls appeared beneath newscasts, loaded with awful uncertainty about the fate of thousands in New York and Washington, and in the skies over the rest of America, plus dark rumors of evil yet to come.  Tell them how you would have felt if someone had assured you there wouldn’t be another 9/11 for a decade to come… and make sure they share your gratitude for the skill and dedication of our law enforcement, intelligence services, and military for bringing us that security.  We will never know how many horrors died in the sands of Iraq, as the jihad poured its strength into battle against true soldiers who were ready for them.  If you remember 9/11, do you really believe, for one moment, that the correct answer is “none?”

Remember what it was like to discover that we had so many epic heroes living among us?  They rose from the seats of airliners, and ran from safety back into the collapsing towers they had just escaped.  They arrived at the World Trade Center wearing police uniforms and fire-fighting gear.  They enlisted in the military and left families behind, to give tyranny the only answer free men should ever have.  They threw themselves in front of civilians on the streets of Iraqi cities, to shield them from terrorist bullets.  We should vigorously defend the great treasury of courage and devotion they have bequeathed us.

Guard the memory of those we lost, how they died, who murdered them, and why.  Preserve forever the record of those who cheered the attacks, made excuses for the murderers, or offered their tacit approval through silence… in an hour when compassion and valor raised their voices across America, and around the world.  Honor those we lost on 9/11, and in the long war that went “hot” on that terrible day, by following the example they set: Fill the world with life, and defend it.