Posts from September 2003

Surviving

Surviving
: Long ago, I recounted the phenomenal story of Pasquale Buzzelli, who survived the collapse of the north tower of the World Trade Center and landed on top of the pile of debris. The story was told in the book by William Langewiesche, who retells it here for tonight’s PBS documentary on the WTC. Go read it and you will witness, if not believe in, miracles.

I met Pasquale and his wonderful wife, Louise, about a year ago when she asked me for advice on trying to get Pasquale’s story published as a book to support the foundation she started to help the mothers who became widows that day. I knew it was a great story, but it was not just some happy-ending-cue-the-music saga. Surviving brought its own difficulties: guilt for living so near death, anger at the people who did this, disorientation in a world utterly changed. I thought that Pasquale’s story was the amplified version of the story of our nation as it has tried to emerge from the debris. But none of the publishing people I knew thought there was a commercial book there; 9.11 was over already. I disagreed, but I don’t own a printing press and so I passed on the advice.

Now New York Magazine tells that story, following up with Pasquale and the 15 other miraculous survivors in Stairwell B of the North Tower. And I am glad to see that Pasquale, Louise, and their beautiful daughter, Hope, born shortly after that day, are doing well. Pasquale is back at work and has found help in therapy to carry some of the unbearable weight he has carried since that day. And Louise has managed to do good with her foundation. It’s still not a cue-the-music happy ending, for this good family should never had to suffer this. But I am glad they are still surviving.

Europe

Europe
: A few of my European blog pals have taken me to task, rightly, for generalizing about Europe in a couple of recent posts. I should have clarified that I’m throwing barbs only at the Europeans who’ve been treating us cuddly Americans badly lately, certainly not all Europeans. How shall I say this: Some of my best friends are Europeans.

The new patriotism

The new patriotism
: Jonathan Alter in Newsweek is right to make a call for a “new patriotism.” He’s wrong about most of the rest.

: September 11th changed my view of patriotism, of course. It also changed my view of politics. And weblogs have had an impact, too.

: I was not a George Bush fan, probably never will be. I didn’t vote for him and thought he stole the election (spare me your comments; we’ve covered this turf already; let me just set the scene and we’ll move on). I think that his tax cut is the most cynical possible act: borrowing our money from us to to bribe us to vote for him (and it’s no way to fix the economy). I wish he had accomplished anything to fix health care. Half his appointments frighten me.

But I support him on homeland security, even considering the missteps, because we have to … and on going to war in Afghanistan because we had to … and on Iraq because it was the right war even if he justified it on the wrong reasons (WMD was a bet on the come; humanitarianism was the sure thing).

I did that because I was motivated by a new patriotism that said it was time to see myself as an American — an American at war — first, and a partisan second. That, clearly, is how 9.11 changed me.

Weblogs changed me as well, because I find now that I more often take on issues individually, not in party packages and I judge our leaders similarly, an issue at a time. That’s why Roger L. Simon says, often and eloquently, that the labels left and right — and presumably, Democratic and Republican — are obsolete.

: Now go read Alter’s view of patriotism and partisanship and you’ll find that he mixes up patriotism and politics in a simplistic stew.

He quotes Britney Spears —

Meanwhile, American media tries to act inconspicuous

Meanwhile, American media tries to act inconspicuous
: While European media are donning tinfoil (see the post below), American media are — as I’ve complained before — trying to act as if 9.11 is something to whisper about, almost something to be ashamed about: our victimhood, our loss: Sshhhh, don’t disturb the Widow America.

Mark Steyn has a slightly different (conspiracy) theory:

Two years after ”the day America changed forever,” the culture is in thrall to the same dopey self-delusion it held on Sept. 10, 2001: There are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet apologized to. The terrorist won’t be a problem if … we just give him a helping hand. Or, as the novelist Alice Walker proposed for Osama bin Laden, ”I firmly believe the only punishment that works is love.”

That’s why America’s TV networks have decided to sit out this week’s anniversary. On the day itself, it was all too chaotic and unprecedented for the news guys to impose any one of their limited range of templates. For the first anniversary, they were back on top of things and opted to Princess Dianafy the occasion, to make it a day of ersatz grief-mongering, with plenty of tinkly piano on the soundtrack and soft-focus features about ”healing circles.” That didn’t go down too well, so this year they’ve figured it’s easiest just to ignore it. The alternative would be to treat 9/11 as what it was — an act of war — and they don’t have the stomach for that. War presupposes enemies, and enemies means people you have to kill, or at least stop, or at the very least be ever so teensy-weensily judgmental about.

He could be right but I say that’s a media conspiracy theory that gives them too much credit for forethought. No, I think, instead, they’re simply making a (misguided) marketing decision that Americans are trying to get past 9.11 — they don’t want to be reminded.

That’s insulting and wrong.

Japanese monster movie

Japanese monster movie
: I enjoy watching Richard Bennett take on Lawrence Lessig: clash of the titans. Today, they’re jousting over Lessig’s (predictable anti-media-company) desire to have the FCC regulate a cable-company behavior that Bennett says isn’t happening: namely, forcing broadband customers to use one source of content over another. It’s a bit inside baseball but it’s entertaining. Says Bennett:

Regardless of how you estimate the difficulty of building a bogus DNS and of intercepting IP addresses and spoofing them, the fact remains that cable Internet providers do not, in point of fact, do these things today. I know there are lots of Urban Legends circulating about this stuff, but I have yet to see any credible evidence in support of the threat that Lessig and Wu perceive. Given that nobody engages in these practices, we don