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Sunday, September 11, 2011

That Horrible Day - Ten Years On

1. Remembering Mark Bingham and the passengers on Flight 93:

2. Andrew Sullivan, "Did Osama Win on 9/11?":
It took months for this initial trauma to ebb, years for my psyche to regain its equilibrium. And it took me close to a decade to realize just how slickly Osama bin Laden had done his evil work, how insidiously his despicable performance art had reached into my mind and altered it, how carefully he had set the trap and how guilelessly I—we—had walked right into it.

We need to understand that 9/11 worked. It worked as a tactic to induce American self-destruction, even if it failed spectacularly as a strategy to advance Al Qaeda—and its heretical message of suicidal warfare—across the globe. It worked because this was not just another terror attack. The emblems were clear: the looming towers of Western capitalism in New York, the cradle of Western democracy in Washington. When the third plane crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth (United 93) was brought down by its passengers, the drama didn’t cease. We saw the symbol of America’s military preeminence lying with its side opened like a tin can. And we imagined the panic and courage in the air over Pennsylvania as people just like us finally found their bearings and fought back. . . .

The simplicity of the plot made it even scarier. On that day the West’s own airplanes, which had taken off peacefully, were transformed into makeshift weapons of mass destruction; the only actual weapons deployed were a handful of box cutters you could find in any office-supply store. The rest was merely human will and the advantage of surprise. More to the point, the people murdered that day, charred in the remains of the towers or jumping from windows in the sky only to thud onto the pavement below, had only that morning been just like us: settled complacently in airline seats or beginning their day at the office. At some point some of them must have looked out a window—in the plane or the World Trade Center—and saw what seemed like the apocalypse coming. There are times when I think of those people who saw, in their final seconds of life, the nose of an airplane hurtling toward them at inhuman speed. Their terror ended quickly. Ours had just begun.

3. Part I of a documentary about the "Saint of 9/11," the gay Franciscan priest and beloved FDNY chaplain, Father Mychal Judge. You can watch the rest of this deeply moving film on YouTube.

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