Posts Tagged ‘Mark Steyn’
It was just a “tragic event” (an inexplicable mishap) — nothing to do with jihadists, radical Islamists, or anything.
MARK STEYN: Waiting to be interviewed on the radio the other day, I found myself on hold listening to a public-service message exhorting listeners to go to 911day.org and tell their fellow citizens how they would be observing the tenth anniversary of the, ah, “tragic events.” There followed a sound bite of a lady explaining that she would be paying tribute by going and cleaning up an area of the beach.
Great! Who could object to that? Anything else? Well, another lady pledged that she “will continue to discuss anti-bullying tactics with my grandson.”
Marvelous. Because studies show that many middle-school bullies graduate to hijacking passenger jets and flying them into tall buildings?
You should never feel left out
You are a piece of a puzzle
And without you
The whole picture can’t be seen.
And if that message of “healing and unity” doesn’t sum up what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, what does? A painting of a plane flying into a building? A sculpture of bodies falling from a skyscraper? Oh, don’t be so drearily literal. “It is still too soon,” says Midori Yashimoto, director of the New Jersey City University Visual Arts Gallery, whose exhibition “Afterwards & Forward” is intended to “promote dialogue, deeper reflection, meditation, and contextualization.” So, instead of planes and skyscrapers, it has Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree,” on which you can hang little tags with your ideas for world peace.
What’s missing from these commemorations?
Oh, please. There are some pieces of the puzzle we have to leave out. As Mayor Bloomberg’s office has patiently explained, there’s “not enough room” at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen. “Which is kind of weird,” wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, “since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago.” On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York. When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies — ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit, who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel. Far “too soon” for any of that at New Jersey City University, but perhaps you could reenact the moment by filling out a peace tag for Yoko Ono’s “Wish Tree” and then letting it flutter to the ground.
Upon arrival at the foot of the towers, two firemen were hit by falling bodies. “There is no other way to put it,” one of their colleagues explained. “They exploded.”
Any room for that on the Metropolitan Museum’s “Peace Quilt”? Sadly not. We’re all out of squares.
What else is missing from these commemorations?
What’s that — a quilting technique?
No, what’s missing from these commemorations is more Muslims. The other day I bumped into an old BBC pal who’s flying in for the anniversary to file a dispatch on why you see fewer women on the streets of New York wearing niqabs and burqas than you do on the streets of London. She thought this was a telling indictment of the post-9/11 climate of “Islamophobia.” I pointed out that, due to basic differences in immigration sources, there are far fewer Muslims in New York than in London. It would be like me flying into Stratford-on-Avon and reporting on the lack of Hispanics. But the suits had already approved the trip, so she was in no mood to call it off.
MARK STEYN: I always enjoy the bit in Planet of the Apes where a loinclothed Charlton Heston falls to his knees as he comes face to face with a shattered Statue of Liberty poking out of the sand and realizes that the eponymous simian planet is, in fact, his own — or was. Also the bit in Independence Day where Lady Liberty gets zapped by space aliens. And in Cloverfield when she’s decapitated by a giant monster. And in The Day After Tomorrow when she’s flash-frozen after polar-ice-cap melting brought on by a speech from Dick Cheney. I’ve been enjoying such moments since, oh, the short story “The Next Morning” in the 1887 edition of Life, illustrated with a pen-and-ink drawing of a headless statue with the smoldering rubble of the city behind her. The poor old girl was barely off the boat from France, and she’d already been pegged as the perfect visual shorthand for societal collapse.
But the United States Postal Service has now gone the Hollywood apocalyptics one better and produced a somewhat subtler image of civilizational ruin. The other day the post office apologized for its new stamp honoring Lady Liberty. Due to an unfortunate error, the stamp shows not the 19th-century Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbor but the 1990s replica that stands at the New York–New York Casino in Las Vegas.
MARK STEYN: It is tempting and certainly very easy to point out that Obama’s war (or Obama’s “kinetic military action,” or “time-limited, scope-limited military action,” or whatever the latest ever more preposterous evasion is) is at odds with everything candidate Obama said about U.S. military action before his election. And certainly every attempt the president makes to explain his Libyan adventure is either cringe-makingly stupid (“I’m accustomed to this contradiction of being both a commander-in-chief but also somebody who aspires to peace”) or alarmingly revealing of a very peculiar worldview:
“That’s why building this international coalition has been so important,” he said the other day. “It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.”
NEW CRITERION: If I am pessimistic about the future of liberty, it is because I am pessimistic about the strength of the English-speaking nations, which have, in profound ways, surrendered to forces at odds with their inheritance. “Declinism” is in the air, but some of us apocalyptic types are way beyond that. The United States is facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style “decline,” but something more like sliding off a cliff.
In the days when I used to write for Fleet Street, a lot of readers and several of my editors accused me of being anti-British. I’m not. I’m extremely pro-British and, for that very reason, the present state of the United Kingdom is bound to cause distress. So, before I get to the bad stuff, let me just lay out the good. Insofar as the world functions at all, it’s due to the Britannic inheritance. Three-sevenths of the G7 economies are nations of British descent. Two-fifths of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are—and, by the way, it should be three-fifths: The rap against the Security Council is that it’s the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if it were, Canada would have a greater claim to be there than either France or China. The reason Canada isn’t is because a third Anglosphere nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a truth usually left unstated—that the Anglosphere was the all but lone defender of civilization and of liberty. In broader geopolitical terms, the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived—from Australia to South Africa to India—and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you’re better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados?