SEPTEMBER 27, 2001

Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shire of your esteem
And its colors come back, the storm has changed you:

You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale
Prophesying your downfall.

You must live with your knowledge.
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of,
Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender:

And they do not like you.

What have you done to them?
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer;
You will come to believe – how can you help it? –
That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh,
You will long for their friendship.

There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of,
Clear in your conscience on this:

Their cause, if they had one, is nothing to them now;
They hate for hate’s sake.

– “There Will Be No Peace”, by W. H. Auden, 1956, (with thanks to L.M. Moore who first posted this on a <a HREF = http://slate.msn.com/code/thefray/thefray.asp?m=1978537 TARGET = NEW>Slate fray discussion thread).

HATHOS ALERT: If you really want to engage in an orgiastic feast of Blame-America-First-ism, take a look at these contributions to the insufferably smug and irredeemably leftist London Review of Books. There are some American writers here, and some worthwhile thoughts, but there’s plenty of pretentious cant as well. My favorite is lit-crit guru Fredric Jameson, who manages to blame the event on the suppression of the left in the Third World. Here’s a snippet: “Historical events, however, are not punctual, but extend in a before and after of time which only gradually reveal themselves. It has, to be sure, been pointed out that the Americans created bin Laden during the Cold War (and in particular during the Soviet war in Afghanistan), and that this is therefore a textbook example of dialectical reversal. But the seeds of the event are buried deeper than that. They are to be found in the wholesale massacres of the Left systematically encouraged and directed by the Americans in an even earlier period. The physical extermination of the Iraqi and the Indonesian Communist Parties, although now historically repressed and forgotten, were crimes as abominable as any contemporary genocide. It is, however, only now that the results are working their way out into actuality, for the resultant absence of any Left alternative means that popular revolt and resistance in the Third World have nowhere to go but into religious and ‘fundamentalist’ forms.” Bet you never thought of that. Marxism could have saved us!

SPIN-ZONE: Several of you have asked for sources for my statement that it now seems that there was a) no basis for the assertion that Air Force One and president Bush received a phoned coded threat on September 11 and b) that the plane that hit the Pentagon was destined for the White House. My source for a) was an Associated Press report that “administration officials said they now doubt whether there was actually a call made threatening the president’s plane, Air Force One.” There was some “misunderstanding” among officials, apparently. No record of the alleged call can be found. CBS News also reported Tuesday night that no such threat had been made. My source for b) was also CBS News correspondent Bob Orr’s examination of the radar evidence for the plane’s flight path. The story is followed up today by Jake Tapper at Salon. I’d be only too happy to be shown evidence backing the administration’s claims, but so far, the evidence seems to be overwhelmingly against them. Some of you have pointed out that is a deeply petty issue. I couldn’t agree more. But that’s all the more reason why the White House shouldn’t be sending out these misleading signals – to people who are basically friendly to them.