So fitting that Mark Bingham should have had Senator John McCain at his private memorial service. And quite typical that the Senator was glad to be there. Bingham was a Republican, gay and a hero who supported McCain’s campaign early on. For McCain to point out how much Mark did to save this country from even worse horror was particularly touching. It helps erase the stench from the Amos Brown grandstanding of last week. I’m proud to reprint part of the Senator’s eulogy here: “I never knew Mark Bingham. But I wish I had. I know he was a good son and friend, a good rugby player, a good American, and an extraordinary human being. He supported me, and his support now ranks among the greatest honors of my life. I wish I had known before September 11 just how great an honor his trust in me was. I wish I could have thanked him for it more profusely than time and circumstances allowed. But I know it now. And I thank him with the only means I possess, by being as good an American as he was.” May he rest in peace.
LETTERS: Reports on the far left’s anti-Americanism around the country; war and legitimate dissent; denial and death. Get ready to be cheered up.
SCRAP THE CONSTITUTION: It’s a pretty good rule these days that the comments of anyone writing from the faculty of a leading American university about this event will be constrained from telling it like it is. American academia is currently in thrall to post-modern, post-colonialist nihilism in which any moral judgment – except knee-jerk demonization of Caucasians – is verboten. So part of the amusement of reading these people in the mainstream press is watching their ideology collide with common sense. Take a look at Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh’s op-ed piece in the New York Times today. The following sentences ring with all the clarity of a dark, impenetrable fog: “Muslim leaders need to embark on programs of democratic renewal – with the support of the West, if necessary. The West needs to overcome its insistence that the nation-state must be secular to be legitimate. The West should recognize that specific cultural values and political policy may intersect without threatening civil liberties, and that religion can play an important role in public life. That would enable Muslims to engage with the West without endorsing secularism.” What on earth does that mean? There are simply no Arab-Muslim states with even a semblance of democracy, and none that looks like fertile ground. They are all dictatorships or theocracies or some hideous combination of the two, despite billions in aid from the U.S. The pro-democracy forces in, say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia, are all but non-existent, and the main challenges to the despots come from even more fanatical mullahs. I’m sorry but a blithe call for “programs of democratic renewal” in those countries is all but meaningless. Besides, the West has accepted as legitimate the semi-religious satrapy of Saudi Arabia, while that regime has fostered the very fanaticism we now confront. The second point from Sanneh seems to be some sort of call for the Western nations to abandon their own sharp delineation between Church and State, i.e. a repeal of the First Amendment. Or some sort of greater fusion of presumably Christian public values with our politics. And this is supposed to help Muslims engage with the West? Gee, smart thinking on that one. Maybe if we put a cross in the middle of the Mall, they’ll have a better target next time. I think this article is a classic in seeing how many of our current academics, parroting leftist dogmas to themselves and their poor, bewildered students for so long, have nothing much to tell us at a moment like this. In fact, their long endorsement of moral nihilism paved the way for the decadence and irrelevance we now see endemic on the far left.
DOWD’S SCOOP: Maureen Dowd, who has seen her entire year-long analysis of George W. Bush demolished before her eyes, keeps up the animosity in Sunday’s column. I wish Maureen would give the guy a second chance. Bush has shown he is not lazy, not dumb, not incompetent, not a puppet. Today’s New York Times’ story about the president reveals someone adept at management and decision-making, trusting a black woman as his most important confidant. You’d think that combo might make some liberals take a pause and reassess the man. Dowd even has a scoop on her hands, at least I think it’s one: “Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s political strategist, is in the middle of our national security crisis. First, he called around town, trying to sell reporters the story – now widely discredited – that Mr. Bush didn’t immediately return to Washington on Sept. 11 because the plane that was headed for the Pentagon may have really been targeting the White House, and that Air Force One was in jeopardy, too.” Funny, but I haven’t read anywhere a story showing that the alleged coded threat to Airforce One and the White House was made up to give the president political cover. That is an extraordinary claim and surely deserves some evidence. Dowd is accusing the president of a bald-faced lie about our national security at a uniquely dangerous and important moment. Can we have something a bit more solid than “widely discredited”? Come on, Maureen. Tell us what you know.
FAREWELL, PTOWN: Finally flying back to DC tomorrow. They’ve just draped the hideous Pilgrim Monument with red, white and blue lights, and the mist is coming in off the bay. I feel enormous sadness leaving this little place, not least because it’s far safer than where I’m headed; but also because its calm and eerie beauty has helped keep me and others sane these past couple of weeks. I do want to say, however, that this little town of such diversity and counter-culture has done itself proud. The memorials, the crowds, the gentle hugs on the street, the bonfires and tears, the flags jammed onto boats and trucks – they all showed that beneath our differences, some things endure. A drag show benefit at the Atlantic House raised over $10,000 for the American Red Cross a few days ago. How’s that for a symbol? My one deep hope is that through this awful conflict, we may relearn the importance of a citizenship and community that transcends our particular identity. And part of that started here.