September 11, 2003

I WON’T BE POSTING MUCH TODAY: Last year on September 11, I commemorated the day by posting nonstop. Today, I think I will take the opposite approach. But I’ll leave you this passage from Lee Harris’s forthcoming book, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History:

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct.

And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

A lot of people haven’t learned that yet. But that’s what 9/11 is all about. Stephen Green understands. (And read this, too. And this.) Back later. Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis is blogging from the World Trade Center via Starbucks and wi-fi.

UPDATE: Oh, and go read Lileks’ piece — now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Check out this memorial on SKBubba’s page, which will only be there for a few more hours. And Bill Whittle has an essay up, too.

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