Both the horror and the loss of that September day ten years ago were brought back to all of us by the recent commemoration. The simple nobility of the ceremony and memorial at Ground Zero made the tragedy much more real again.
And with that, much more bitter.
Because the tragic site at which speeches were made and wives and children mourned was the scene of mass murder. Of a declaration of war. Of an intentional, ideologically motivated mass killing. Yet a decade after the greatest peacetime attack since Pearl Harbor, western troops are still carrying out “peace keeping” missions in its name in places that don’t want peace, put in harm’s way by leaders with no idea what they are really there for.
Why this agonising slow bleed? Because if American (and western) reaction to it over the last ten years could be summed up in one sweeping leitmotif, says historian John Lewis, it would be this: Apologetic self-abnegation.
Attacked on our own soil and across the globe, we have refused to accept that the cause of the slaughter is the openly stated commitment of clerics, pundits, and political leaders to a barbaric ideology of religious war…
To explain [the] aggression we search doggedly for evidence of our own malfeasance. We atone for our alleged sins by showering foreign dictatorships with money and the sanction of diplomatic discussions. We apologize for every dead civilian, even as the enemy hides behind defenseless children and flees into safe havens across foreign borders. We offer constitutional protections to murderers pledged to destroy our Constitution.
Why are we doing this? What has brought us to this state? … [Because] self-abnegation is the new path to atonement.
This is the intellectual climate we have steeped in for decades. Is it any wonder that we are acting as these ideas demand?
This is why, ten years after 9/11, we have not defeated the enemy that used hijacked airliners to murder thousands of Americans before our eyes…
The deepest cause of this malady oozes out of the ideas that permeate our culture. Intellectually, we have refused to face the fact that we are at war and should act to end it quickly. Morally, we have denied all principles except one: moral goodness means self-sacrifice. Psychologically, we lack confidence in our efficacy, and have murdered our self-esteem by leaping into the quicksand of sacrifice. Politically, we are at perpetual war, because to win decisively would be an act of self-interest—and that is the one action we dare not take.
These are the fruits of the philosophy of self-abnegation.
Self-abnegation is the west’s default position today.