Our day that will live in infamy

R-J editorial page from Sept. 16, 2001

R-J editorial page from Sept. 16, 2001

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I wrote on the Sunday following that day of infamy:

“I sat down at my computer at about 6 a.m., unfolded the newspaper and switched on the television. There was smoke pouring from the top of one of the unmistakable landmarks of New York City, the World Trade Center. Well, I thought, there’s a story and photo for tomorrow’s front page, and started into the morning’s routine.

“Minutes later a fireball blossomed from the other tower, and it began to dawn on the commentators and me that this was no ordinary accident and Sept. 11 would be no ordinary day.”

I started making phone calls. Reporters and photographers were dispatched to Hoover Dam, McCarran International, City Hall, Nellis Air Force Base, the Strip and elsewhere. Editors huddled. The publisher called in and said we should add 24 pages to the Wednesday newspaper. All plans were scrapped and we started from scratch, hoping to help our readers make sense of a senseless act.

Every section of the paper kicked in its resources.

The press crew rolled the presses early and cranked out thousands of extra copies.

Then I wrote that Sunday:

“I was proud of what we all had accomplished, of the concerted effort and professionalism, as I drove home at 1 a.m. … until I heard the callers on the radio. People were saying they would gladly give up some freedoms for the sake of safety.”

I wanted to reach into the radio and slap some sense into the callers.

The column proceeded to tick off some of the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights and I wondered aloud which people would willingly sacrifice. The First’s right of assembly, lest there be a bomb, and no freedom of speech and religion, especially that one? The Second’s right to bear arms? The Fourth’s prohibition against warrantless search and seizure? The Fifth’s right to due process? The Sixth’s right to a public trial?

I concluded:

“If this is the consensus of the nation, the bastards have already won, destroying our will and our principles as well as planes, buildings and lives.

“We will have surrendered without firing a shot in the first war of the 21st century.”

The column appeared sandwiched between a Jim Day cartoon and a Vin Suprynowicz column with the headline: “The passengers were all disarmed.”

In a comment to a local magazine on an anniversary of 9/11 I called it “our Pearl Harbor.”

poster

R-J front page from Newseum poster.

R-J front page from Newseum poster.

 

12 comments on “Our day that will live in infamy

  1. Barbara says:

    The RJ’s reporting was excellent. I remember reading an article covering a forum held by professors at UNLV concerning the causes leading up to 9-11. It sparked my first letter to the editor which you published. The comments of the professors so outraged me, I resolved that my daughter would never attend UNLV.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    Anyone else notice that the words Islam and Muslims were never mentioned in any of the recent TV program about 9/11/2001? Saying Terrorists doesn’t really imply the connection to Islam or Muslims, for many people the terrorists could have been from any of the dozens of nations that practive Christianity. There are still people that believe it was an inside job, thus carried out by our own government. They were Muslims carrying out jihad – period.

  3. Bill says:

    Many people could simply not get their minds around what was happening in real time on their television sets. Few, if any, could contemplate the fanaticism that would cause human beings to destroy themselves and innocents in the name of a religion. Only those Americans who were alive in WWII had anything similar to it and even then the Kamikaze directed their explosive planes towarde military targets, not civilian.

    In the aftermath of September 11, Sadly, there was a chorus of Pundits and Academics who hastened to say it was all America’s fault. In a rhapsody of national flagellation fingers were pointed but rarely in the right direction or was the enemy called by the right name.

    We were attacked on 9/11 by Muslims. Radical to be sure but the attack was by persons who proclaimed that they were Muslim’s carrying out Allah’s will. They were Muslim’s as surely as those Ku Klux Klanners and Crusaders that the President has spoken of were Christians.

    Meantime, we find ourselves 10 years after 9/11 and seemingly not learned a thing. Indeed, we cannot even talk openly. Political correctness and an exaltation of all cultures except our own have silenced us.

    I constantly think of George Santyana.

  4. Nyp says:

    So when we speak of lynchings in the South we should simply say that those murders were committed by Christians?

  5. No…those murders were committed by Democrats.

  6. I did not get into it, but one of those 1 a.m. callers was saying saying that before we retaliated we should try to understand why they hate us so much — implying it was our fault?

  7. You hit the nail on the head, focusing on the true meaning of the 911 attack for all Americans. For my part, I was in a meeting across from the White House when former Secretary of State Alexander Haig stood up and read from his blackberry the news from New York. All in the meeting knew it could be no accident. Phones and beepers started lighting off and we adjourned. Heading toward the Pentagon, Flight 77 struck. A day of days. Remember yes, honor the fallen, yes. But your message is the one all Americans need to think hard about fifteen years later. If we submit to tyranny, we lose everything. The threat to Americans today comes in many forms, both foreign and domestic. No great nation ever collapsed from an external threat, it has come from the apathy of a uninformed citizenry. Keep pushing the message and well done Sir.

  8. Steve says:

    This blog has some great readers and followers.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s all just a global game to the men behind the curtains…and rest of us are just fucking mushrooms…

    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/McCollum/index.html

    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/nc-pilger.html

  10. rincon says:

    As the west continues to send oil money to Saudi Arabia so the Wahhabis can fund more madrassas.

  11. Steve says:

    Rincon. These are the concluding paragraphs. I have said it before and I reiterate, for the foreseeable future, oil prices are locked in a range of 25 to 65 dollars a barrel directly due to US fracking technology. And China is weighing in with more fracking in their own shale fields. It is onjly getting cheaper for us and China. OPEC is dead.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/02/11/saudi-arabia-may-go-broke-before-the-us-oil-industry-buckles/

    In hindsight, it was a strategic error to hold prices so high, for so long, allowing shale frackers – and the solar industry – to come of age. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

    The Saudis are now trapped. Even if they could do a deal with Russia and orchestrate a cut in output to boost prices – far from clear – they might merely gain a few more years of high income at the cost of bringing forward more shale production later on.

    Yet on the current course their reserves may be down to $200bn by the end of 2018. The markets will react long before this, seeing the writing on the wall. Capital flight will accelerate.

    The government can slash investment spending for a while – as it did in the mid-1980s – but in the end it must face draconian austerity. It cannot afford to prop up Egypt and maintain an exorbitant political patronage machine across the Sunni world.

    Social spending is the glue that holds together a medieval Wahhabi regime at a time of fermenting unrest among the Shia minority of the Eastern Province, pin-prick terrorist attacks from ISIS, and blowback from the invasion of Yemen.

    Diplomatic spending is what underpins the Saudi sphere of influence in a Middle East suffering its own version of Europe’s Thirty Year War, and still reeling from the after-shocks of a crushed democratic revolt.

    We may yet find that the US oil industry has greater staying power than the rickety political edifice behind OPEC.

  12. rincon says:

    A very rosy view, Steve. So far, we’ve only had 3 wars and one major attack as a result. Not so bad in the conservative brain, I suppose. Of course, we’re neglecting the present and future problems dealing with Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia and especially Iran. No big deal in your opinion?

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