Our day that will live in infamy

Where were you on September 11, 2001 — 20 years ago?

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.”

Now, these two decades later, the Taliban, who harbored the terrorists who plotted and carried out the 9/11 attacks, are back in power in Afghanistan. Was it all for naught?

A version of this was posted on this day in 2016.

17 comments on “Our day that will live in infamy

  1. John L. Smith says:

    Those were such breathtaking days. You did a fine job of holding it all together on deadline, as you always did. The article brings it all back.

  2. reziac says:

    Meanwhile Israel, which initially had a big problem with hijackers, put armed guards on every flight, and the problem went away. I’ve often suggested a discount be offered to CCW holders… miscreants could never know which passengers are armed, trained, and have the balls to put down a threat.

    Know why we haven’t had another such incident in the twenty years since? I have it from a reliable source that the next morning, Bush the Younger called the Saudis and told them flat out: “We know you were behind it. If it happens again, we’ll nuke Mecca.”

    Unfortunately the generation that took this warning seriously is aging out, and only us bristly old fogeys seem to remember that strength is respected and enemies learn to tread lightly, while weakness is invariably attacked, and we Westerners are the only people in the whole world who willingly stay within our own boundaries.

    Those of us who study Islam recognize that 9/11 is a milestone historical date, and was not chosen by chance or coincidence. They’ve already had their victory over our weakness for this year, and will thereby be encouraged to attack us in the future. And meanwhile, we’re importing a hundred thousand unvetted and unvettable Muslims, some of whom will someday heed Holy Quran’s admonition to “kill the infidel wherever you find him”.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Funny how memories are I guess.

    My memories of the days that followed 911 and the coverage of those days by the editorial staff at the RJ including you Mr. Mitchell, sherm, and vin, involved mostly support for the war, those who waged it, and the attacks on muslims in this country and the rest of the world.

    And how funny is reziac?

    As if the Saudis could somehow prevent some lunatic from committing an act of terrorism because they were so cowed by the guy who benefited by his relationship with them and let all of them head back to their country without so much as being questioned about where bin laden might be or what their relationship with him was.

  4. Rincon says:

    Our overreaction to 9/11 becomes obvious when we compare that tragedy, where 2,977 people lost their lives, with the foreign “terrorist” we have today, which has killed about 650,000 of us so far. Because of an event costing 2,977 lives, we were urged by both liberals and so called conservatives to spent trillions on war and remove some of our precious rights, and have created quite a mess in the process. Today, many of the same people that urged all out war on Islamic terrorism believe that the latter “terrorist” should have a free hand. Somehow, I guess a little ol’ microorganism seems much more harmless than a bunch of religious fanatics, regardless of death tolls.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And the weird thing is Rincon that so many of the folks on the right that wail and gnash their teeth today about their lost “freedoms” because people want them to wear a mask, called anyone who objected to the efforts to steal our freedoms back then traitors to this country.

    Its a very strange world we are living in today.

  6. Athos says:

    Wearing a cloth mask to stop a virus has always been illogical (to me). And I don’t believe there are any studies that show the effectiveness of cloth masks vs the Wuhan flu. I’ll chose breathing ANYTIME.

    As to 9/11, there were so many liberal high held beliefs that were destroyed, silenced or beat back in shame that for a brief time, it felt good to be an American. God was back. Men (fireMEN, policeMEN, etc) were allowed to be true heroes, running TO the danger. And other cultures were NOT on par with ours (and still aren’t, are they?)

    America survives by embracing other ethnicities, (not cultures). Cultures are why people flee where they live to come HERE.

    As to taking the fight to them, over THERE, I saw the logic in that. And applauded it. However, that in no way gives that venal house plant Joe Biden a pass at the disgraceful and totally inept withdrawal of Afghanistan. The problem is our political winds change with the election of DEMOCRAT leaders. Pinocchio appeared to be a closet Muslim, and between him and Hillary, we blew the middle east up real good, didn’t we? Good ole ISIS (or ISIL the JV team Barry O was fond of saying) and leaving Libya totally in Chaos, and Iran with an active nuke plan (and pallets of cash) were just some of the greatest hits of Dem presidents.

    But Jorge W and the Repubs are certainly not blameless. What hope to get an audit for the money spent in the middle east over the last 20 years? How many millionaires did our government make? And I agree with Rinny, we need to get rid of the TSA and Patriot act, NOW.

    AND We need to decide whether we will be an imperial world power, or a vassal of China.

    And having that senile turd in the White House spells trouble for our freedom loving nation. Even the Bundys can see that problem!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “You do not seek to understand madmen you eliminate them and theirs. Period”

    Still believe this Thomas?

  8. Rincon says:

    “But Jorge W and the Repubs are certainly not blameless” Nice to see some balance, Athos.

    I do have to give Trump some credit for the fiasco if Afghanistan, although Biden is primarily responsible. Trump set a date for a total withdrawal, always a poor tactic. When the Taliban broke their promise by continuing their attacks, instead of hellfire, Trump just slowed the exit a bit. Trump also negotiated the release of 500 prisoners by the Afghan government, most of whom joined in the battle all over again. Trump also allowed or created a massive logjam for visa applications for those Afghans who worked for us in the war. Of course, his voting base didn’t want any damn foreigners coming here and had no qualms about leaving those who helped us behind, teaching the people of the world to never help the United States because they will throw you to the dogs once you’re no longer useful. We will pay for that mistake in spades.

    You specified cloth masks as being ineffective. Do you believe that surgical masks are?
    BTW, there is a common sense side to this. Although the virus is smaller than the pores of most masks, the virus is invariably trapped in a water droplet. Just as dust in the water of a mud puddle won’t blow away, many of the water droplets carrying viruses are easily trapped by even cloth masks.

  9. Athos says:

    ““You do not seek to understand madmen you eliminate them and theirs. Period”” said NO democrat, ever! Open up the jails! Disband and defund the Police! What could possibly go wrong?

  10. Athos says:

    Anny moss, I’m sure Mitt Romney is an unbiased purveyor of fact when Donald Trump is concerned. Nice touch!

    Rin, your point about giving Trump some credit for the Afghanistan fiasco goes back to my point about any foreign policy put forth in today’s supercharged partisanship US divide. When Prez Pinocchio gave Iran palates of $$$ and the green light for uranium enrichment, I thought that was insane. Along comes Trump and reverses Obama. Along comes Biden and reverses Trump. How can any of our allies understand (and rely) on this type of governance?

    As to Afghanistan, Biden BAILED (cut tail and ran), not notifying our NATO allies (which is why he was condemned by the Brits) Biden was asked if we’d see another Hanoi circa 1975 and just what was his answer, Rin? Do you remember?

    Or is that Trump’s fault, also? Trump Derangement Syndrome STILL runs strong in this country. That’s why I don’t think he’ll run in 2024. Facts and figures mean nothing (even $4+/gal gas). People have been poisoned towards Trump.

    And we need to have a rational national discussion on what our roll will be, going forward in the future. China HAS a plan. We can no longer afford to put our head in the sand and pretend we can be left alone.

    And Tom, the Media is the reason for TDS. Useful, despicable toadies.

  11. Athos says:

    Present company excluded, of course!

  12. Athos says:

    Rin, as to the masks…. almost everyone I see (including Nancy Pelosi with her designer mask) are wearing cloth masks. Proper fitting n95 masks are supposed to be better shields but definitively cut down on your air. And with mask mandate areas faring no better than mask optional areas, what up with our Democrat Governors? No one is saying you CAN’T wear a mask. It’s YOUR CHOICE.

    And the rulers that mandate these masks, are always being caught out at events without them, aren’t they? Rules for thee, but not for me. Is that how you want to live, Rin?

    Take me out to the Ball Game, Dr Fauci!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Someone say NATO?

  14. Anonymous says:

    China’s plan USED to be alright with some people.

    “15 times Trump praised China as coronavirus was spreading across the globe”

    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/15/trump-china-coronavirus-188736

  15. Rincon says:

    I agree with everything you said about Biden’s job with Afghanistan, Athos, so no, I’m not anti Trump or at least not rabidly pro Biden. I’m anti stupidity, no matter who is the source. I think all 4 Presidents did a lousy job with Afghanistan. You think 3 did, but that one did a great job. Not so far apart, I guess.

    With the masks, I find it odd that you generalize so badly about our “rulers” not wearing masks. It seems that you have a zero tolerance policy. Let’s see if I have this right. If someone supports masks, and doesn’t wear one on rare occasion, then he should be fired and run out of town. On the other hand, if he refuses to wear masks at all times, then he’s a hero. And if he preaches against vaccines and then has one in secret, he’s still a hero. Got it

    Your statement about areas with mask requirements having just as much COVID as those without is unsupported, so I question its truth. It might be true though, because correlation is not causation. City environments are far more conducive to the spread of COVID than rural areas and surprise, states with mostly rural populations have fewer mask requirements. Your correlation though, falls on its face if one looks at other nations rather than only states.

    You are right about one thing: No one is saying you CAN’T wear a mask. It’s YOUR CHOICE. And for most of us, nobody is forcing us to wear them. Even when “mandated” no one seems to pay so much as a 2 dollar fine. Yet Conservatives wail and cry about it as if they were dying even when merely asked. This is a symptom of the wimpification of America. The government put a gun in my father’s hands and sent him to Europe to risk his life ands endure numerous hardships, yet he served with distinction. Today, many of us refuse to help fight a much different war with even the smallest of sacrifices being asked of us. Ask not what your country can do for you? Not anymore!

  16. Athos says:

    1st about masks. You won’t pay a $2 fine but if you work for a casino (or other service industry business) there was a time between April and July where you didn’t need to wear a mask at work if you could prove to your employer (and had entered into your work record) your vaccine paperwork.

    In fact, that was the incentive from the CEOs of said companies (here in Nevada). Show us your vaccine cards and you no longer need to wear a mask. Then came our gutless God playing county commissioners, followed by that turd Sislack, and bingo, masks were back in force. And you would LOSE YOUR JOB if you didn’t wear a mask (unless you were in management and worked in your own office) But that didn’t happen in 33 states that didn’t mandate masks. Is it 33? If you look state by state, I believe NY and NJ rank in the top 5 (Nevada in the top 50%) where there are mask mandates.

    As to the hypocrisy of our “god like leaders” being constantly caught not wearing masks in public when it would inconvenience them, they don’t believe masks make a difference OR THEY WOULD BE WEARING THEM AT ALL TIMES! Kind of like flying all their private jets to conferences on man made global warming (and living in their 30,000sf homes). I’ll believe this stuff is real when they start ACTING likes it’s real. OK?

    Jorge should have left after ’02 in Afghan. Should have never went into Iraq. Hillary should never have gone into Libya, and Joe Biden hopelessly bungle the Afghan exit. At least Trump didn’t START any wars, (if you don’t count the war against the SWAMP)/

    My father also fought in Europe ’42-46, along with his brother (a D-Day paratrooper, they went I believe June 4) His other brother was a marine in the Pacific theater (iwo Jima) Please tell me you’re not comparing what they did to us fighting a Chinese Flu? Hopefully, I misunderstood your point…..

    Big question…. why does Fauci, Biden et al REFUSE to talk about (or even take into consideration) natural immunity?? Can’t they read the latest paper from the Harvard Study? And why are law abiding Americans being forced to vaccinate, but not the Afghan refugees or ANY illegal border crossers?

    If the omnipotent government keepers can’t address those questions, how do they expect ANYONE with more than 2 braincells to trust them? And just when will the American people stop surrendering their FREEDOM for questionable security?

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