Saturday, September 11, 2004

Giving a tragedy its due


An extraordinary piece of writing appears today on the New York Times editorial page, a concise explanation of the tragedy after the tragedy that was the attacks of September 11, 2001.


It's been some time since we last conferred the "Sentence of the Week" title on the work of any particular writer, and since this comes from an unsigned editorial, we may never know the author of this elegantly rendered nugget of wisdom (Staples?):


The moment vanishes, and what we are left with are impressions, recreations and the solid residue of fact, which doesn't merely lie there waiting to be picked up but must be carefully elicited.


The tragedy after the tragedy, of course, is the simultaneous reluctance to truly look at the deeper meaning and precipitating events of the viciousness visited upon us while selected images of that day become appropriated as political symbols. The simplistic idea that our nation was hit because "they hate our way of life" may be appealing to both the public, which gropes for a comprehensible explanation, and the nation's leaders, who prefer a benighted populace to one with powers of discernment but, in the end, it leaves the American people more vulnerable than ever to another attack as they hold tight to the ignorance of their government's works in the world.

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