Friday, September 03, 2004

Here a nation rose

Let’s return to the Bush line, “for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell, here a nation rose.” When composing my last post, that line, which I had scribbled down assuming I would be making a joke about, was just too disquieting. Chris Suellentrop’s subsequent Slate dispatch, which doesn’t mention the line, suggests the reason: the R convention was full of sepia-toned nostalgia for those days after 9/11 when the nation supposedly united as it did after Pearl Harbor. Good times, good times.

The R’s are busily constructing a new vision of American nationhood based on victimhood. This is why the passengers who brought down Pennsylvania flight 93 and saved whatever target Al Qaida planned to fly it into (can you imagine how much worse the American backlash would have been had it hit the White House or Capitol Building? or Three Mile Island, which some early reports suggested was its target?) have gone unmythologized, and why the only soldier whose name you’re likely to know from either war of “liberation” (excluding relatives, friends, etc) wasn’t someone who, for instance, pulled a buddy out of the line of fire, like Kerry did in Vietnam, or performed some other act of bravery, but another victim, Private Jessica Lynch.

Nations that rise out of tragedy and victimization are not lovely things. You do not endear yourself to the world by constantly insisting that you are fighting wars to save their lazy, ungrateful asses, and indeed Western Civilization itself, from the heathen barbarians, alone and indeed vilified by them for doing the hard work that must be done. I’m not referring to the US now; I’m describing Serbia.

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