War on Terror: September 2012 Archives

I don't remember exactly what I was doing this morning at 7:46 a.m. Central time, eleven years to the minute after Islamic radicals flew a large commercial jetliner into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, but I was probably scrambling to find a working copier to copy the quiz over the definite article, first declension masculine nouns, and the imperfect tense to give to five students who likely had no idea where they were when the first aircraft hit the North Tower or the second aircraft hit the South Tower or the third aircraft hit the Pentagon or the fourth aircraft plowed up a field in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I knew where one of my five students had been at that moment, because he had been riding in the backseat of my car, excited about another day of school -- his third ever -- as we drove south on Yale toward 51st and heard Michael DelGiorno, then the host on KTBZ (The Buzz, in its brief incarnation as a news-talk station), report a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center tower -- surely a bizarre accident. By the time I picked my son up from school at noon, it had all unfolded, and but I kept the radio off, trying to shield his ears from the news, trying to enjoy a visit to the zoo on a cloudless September day.

In retrospect it would have been appropriate for me to deviate from Attic grammar for a few minutes at the beginning of class today to talk about what happened, to describe the fear and the worry we felt in Tulsa, far from New York and Washington but only 100 miles from what had been until that moment the worst terrorist attack on American soil, to tell some of the stories told by New York friends of the chaos of that day, to tell of a family's anxious search through New York for former Tulsan Jayesh Shah, the sad conclusion to that quest, and the grieving wife, mother, children, and brother he left behind. I should have told them about the touching memorial service a month later and showed them the model of the Twin Towers and Pentagon -- a remembrance from Jay's family.

My students and their peers need to know that the attack was no historical abstraction. It involved Americans like themselves, their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, who were merely going about their business on 9/11/2001 when terrorists took their lives in the name of Islam.

My students need to know that the hijackers fueled their hate by listening to radical Islamist preachers right here in the United States and that the demands of political correctness led authorities to turn a deaf ear to the sermons of hate. They need to know that the hijackers used the infrastructure of illegal immigrant day labor to acquire the fake IDs that got them aboard the planes.

They need to know that a Muslim in their own city who wrote an op-ed condemning terror in the name of Islam was harassed and threatened at his place of worship. They should know that in 2008, at a Burger King two miles away from their school, a State Trooper tackled and disarmed a man with a Glock who was praying to Allah for strength to carry out his mission.

They need to know that what happened 11 years ago was the culmination of an Islamist war on America that dates back at least as far as the 1979 Iranian assault on the American Embassy in Tehran. They need to know that the assault continued today as mobs attacked the American Embassy in Cairo and the American Consulate in Benghazi under the watchful eyes of newly installed Islamist-friendly governments in Egypt and Libya. And they need to know about our government's weak and apologetic response and clumsy cleanup.

My students and their peers need to understand that we cannot take a holiday from history, as much as we might wish we could. We're training them to be leaders of the future. They need to understand the world in which they must lead.

As Michelle Malkin wrote in 2003, we need remembrance, resolve, and action to deal with the inconvenient, frightening realities today's leaders all too often seem all too afraid to face.


My post on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with links to first-hand accounts of the day and its aftermath.

David French: 9/11: The Case for Controlled and Sustained Rage

Britain's Channel 4 cancels screening of "Islam: The Untold Story" under threat of violence

Victor Davis Hanson: Ripples of 9/11

The chant of the Egyptian mob that attacked our embassy: "Obama! Obama! There are still a billion Osamas!"

James Lileks blog entry on the day after

James Lileks' 2009 reflections

And finally this: A brief debunking of the "9/11: A Conspiracy Theory" video making the rounds on Facebook today. Follow the links for a more detailed rebuttal.


Karol Markowicz on the impulse behind trooferism, both old and new:

It's much easier to continue hating George W. Bush -- to focus on bogus charges that he sat back and did nothing while his country was attacked -- than it is to understand nameless, faceless people who still want us dead today.

Both types of truthers want something else to be the reality. They want someone safe to blame, someone who didn't chop off Daniel Pearl's head and doesn't blow himself up to advance a cause we find bizarre.

The government, and the Bush administration specifically, is that safe target. Better to insist that the Bushies just screwed up than to acknowledge that we remain under threat, that (even with those restrictions on cooperation removed) our government may not be able to stop some future attack.

That truth is just too scary to face.

Julie Neidlinger was traveling by Amtrak on September 11, 2001, a journey planned as part of a vacation. She recalls the sense of isolation from the news, but feeling the impact through all the accidental tourists using Amtrak to replace cancelled business flights.


On the first anniversary of the attacks, my wife and I sang as part of a choir of 65 voices, members of the Coventry Chorale, the Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Holland Hall School Concert Chorus, accompanied by members of the Tulsa Philharmonic. The event was part of a worldwide "Rolling Requiem" to perform Mozart's Requiem in every timezone, beginning at the time of the attacks in each timezone, so that this musical remembrance of the dead would roll around the world for 24 hours. In his blog, James Watts, arts critic of the Tulsa World, remembers the event:

While I -- as do most Americans -- remember where I was and what I was doing on Sept. 11, 2001, what I prefer to remember on this day is where I was on Sept. 11, 2002....

At the conclusion of the Requiem, the powerful notes of "Quia pius es (For You are merciful)," the crowd rose to its feet and applauded for as long as it took for the singers and musicians to exit the sanctuary -- an ovation of nearly three minutes.

And as the crowd made its way outside the church, the bell at Trinity Episcopal began to sound. It would continue to sound at 12-second intervals throughout the day, until it had tolled 3,043 times: one for each victim of the Sept. 11 attacks.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the War on Terror category from September 2012.

War on Terror: December 2011 is the previous archive.

War on Terror: October 2012 is the next archive.

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