I’ve published this every September 11 since I began blogging in 2008. It’s dedicated to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and to every firefighter who has ever run into a burning building — 343 of them in particular.
Some day soon I need to write more extensively about the name of this blog. It comes from something that English statesman Edmund Burke apparently did not actually say, so I’ve felt free to modernize the language:
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”
Regardless of who said it first, that sentence is the purest possible distillation of my worldview, and September 11 is a powerful annual reminder of why I regard it as an enduring truth.
The events of 9/11 were the legacy of more than two decades of doing nothing, or next to nothing, in response to attacks from fascists in Islamic guise.
Militant Islamists declared war on America in November 1979 by taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. This was followed by 1983 attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut; the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie in 1988; the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the simultaneous 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000; along with smaller atrocities too numerous to list.
Only after 9/11 did America, led by a President who despite his substantial flaws was resolute enough to call evil by its name, finally mount a sustained response and take the battle to the enemy. And no, Saddam was not behind the 9/11 attacks — but liberating Iraq and planting a (still-fragile) democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East is an essential part of the broader war.
All of this is why, despite profound disagreements with the Republican Party on social issues, despite voting for Bill Clinton three times (including 2000), I can no longer vote for Democrats for President. Not until the party has a standard-bearer who understands the cost of meekness in the face of fascism, and who is prepared to stay on the offensive against people for whom “death to America” is not a metaphor.
2012 update: Obama has turned out to be more willing to use force than I expected when I wrote the last paragraph above during the 2008 campaign. The takedown of Osama bin Laden was a genuine triumph. But at the end of the day, economic strength is also a national security issue, and I’ll feel (somewhat) safer on that front with Republicans in charge.