- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Symbols of power

"The World Trade Center was slow to enter the affections of New Yorkers. The city's previous tallest buildings the Chrysler building and the Empire State building will have the look of the future stamped on their aspiring lines as long as they stand. The World Trade Towers, tall though they were, seemed squat. The TV mast on Tower 2 only emphasized their apparent hunching. They didn't even give the city the honor of having the tallest buildings in the world, as that distinction flitted to Chicago, then Kuala Lumpur.

"It was very American, an amateur architecture critic pointed out ot me, to design not one huge building, but two. Maybe the investors got a deal. The failed bombing attempt in 1993 sealed the buildings' bargain with New Yorkers; evil foreigners had tried to do us wrong, but luck and pluck had seen the towers through.

"If the United States had no residents of foreign birth or ethnicity, and if it had no foreign-policy dealings in any inflamed portion of the globe, it would still be the pre-eminent target of the postmodern age, for we, and especially New York, are the symbols of getting and spending, of capital and globalization. The fear of that power, as sin and symbol, is very great."

Richard Brookhiser in "Our Day of Infamy" in the Oct. 1 issue of the National Review

Instant patriot

"When Clinton was sending troops to the border of Kosovo and I had just turned 18, I said I would head to Mexico if Uncle Sam came for me. When I saw footage of the World Trade Center crumbling on Tuesday, I decided I would go to war if they wanted me.

"I went from flag burner to flag waver in a matter of minutes.

"I spoke to my mother on the phone [last week] and she told me, 'Your generation will be defined by how you respond to all of this We became known for the antiwar movement. Drugs. Free love. I won't pretend like I wasn't a part of it, but can you imagine? Our fathers saved the world and that is how we responded.

"As a generation, we've been searching for meaning. We've been looking for a reason to care about something. Our parents united in protest against Vietnam. Our grandparents came together to fight fascism. We couldn't find anything better than sweatshops and Starbucks to be upset about."

Russell Morse, writing on "Good to go," Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Good-bye, reason

"If you are an American, raised on a diet of Western rationalism, it is difficult to understand the idea of holy war.

"The liberal in us wants to believe that humanity is bound by hope. The pragmatist inside never stops searching for some deal that will allow the avaricious and sybaritic side of human nature to triumph over messy, abstract idealism. The pacifist in our hearts doesn't want to believe that people can see violence as an expression of fraternity and love.

"On Sept. 11, American rationalism got fuel-bombed by a force whose mores are hopelessly irreconcilable with our own. For Osama bin Laden, the Saudi holy warrior, and for the true-believers who converted civilian airliners into missiles, the hand of God really did take down the World Trade Center's twin towers.

"Bin Laden has been trying to show that a band of faithful Muslims can, with the right weapons in the hands of death-wish believers, reverse the history of the Muslim world. If you can repeatedly maul the United States, the spiritual cutting edge of Western civilization, and get away with it you simultaneously degrade the West's ideals, which is the ultimate objective.

"The collapse of the World Trade Center is in this sense, for an Islamic holy warrior, the most potentially promising victory since the Ottoman Empire took Constantinople in 1453."

Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing on "Bin Laden, Beware," in the Sept. 24 issue of the Weekly Standard

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