Perhaps one of the best analyses of Bush’s superb speech last Thursday night can be found in the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung. As the author Frank Schirrmacher observes, the patience and resolution of the president’s message was completely not what the terrorists were expecting. They wanted Armageddon, a massive, sudden Clinton-like counter-strike that they could use to foment further disruption. What they got was a deadly serious, internationally conscious, militarily patient call to arms.
HITCH AGAIN: Christopher Hitchens and I disagree about many, many things, but I’ve always regarded him as a decent man of the Left who can tell the truth as he sees it. He’s also a chum. In the current climate he is doing us all a favor by seeing more clearly what needs to be seen by his comrades. Hitch was absolutely right in being one of the first people to recognize the dark evil of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, right to see the moral stakes in Bosnia, right to expose Bill Clinton for the negligent charlatan he was. So I’m not exactly surprised by his clarity in the Nation. Here’s the critical passage for which he deserves warm support: “[T]he bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.”
MARK BINGHAM’S LEGACY: I normally post letters in the letters section. But I want to make an exception for the following. It says a great deal to me and, I’m sure to others. It suggests that this war may lead to a better world, as long as we fight tenaciously and intelligently to win:
“I am a pretty conservative native Arizonan. I thought I was middle of the road until I went to college, where I found out that, at least compared to most of the “elites” in my generation, I’m right of center. I was a football and rugby player in college as well, which further differentiated me from most of my classmates in that such sports were viewed with suspicion by most of the liberal-types on campus (which would be a sizeable majority). I also hold pretty conservative Christian views on most matters (I guess I’m a conservative Methodist, which is a bit of an oxymoron I’ll grant).
“The issue I wanted to talk about is gay rights, and gays in the military in particular. As you might imagine, growing up in Arizona in a family with strong military ties (my grandfather dropped out of medical school in WW II to be a medic), I agreed with the majority sentiment in my state that gays had no place in the military, especially if they were open about it. I played football in high school with several guys who ended up as combat vets of the Gulf War, and they were all in agreement that admitting gays would undercut morale and unit cohesion. Since this jived with my preconceptions, it just reinforced my position. I’ve read your arguments to the contrary (based on the similar problems with integration of the African Americans after WW II), and while I understood the merits of them, I still disagreed. What changed my mind was Mark Bingham.
“You see, whether I admitted it consciously or not, one of my problems with gays in the military was not only the unit cohesion issue, but also the sense that gays just couldn’t cut it. This perception is based in part on the media portrayal of gays (lots of it by gays themselves) as effeminate, etc., as well as my personal experience with gays my age, most of whom seemed little interested in military service or aggressive pursuits in general, unless it was protesting something (a daily occurence at Pomona).
“Well, as we found out last week, Mark Bingham could cut it. He played rugby for Berkeley in the early 90’s, when they had the best team in the nation and won the national championship three times in 5 years. I played against them twice during that time period, and we got killed both times. I’m sure I met Mark and had a beer with him after these games (Rugby can be pretty social that way), and I have no doubt that he crushed me once or twice, and vice versa, out on the “pitch.” Last week during the aftermath of the attacks, the thought that kept occurring to me was, what would I have done if I had been on one of those planes? I know (without really knowing) that I would’ve attacked the terrorists and gone down swinging. It seems that had I been on the same plane as Mark, he would’ve been right there with me, and would have certainly been a formidable ally to have. His reaction (fight the bastards) to this horrible assault was the same as mine, and he probably helped save thousands of lives, and perhaps our Capital or the White House as well. He’s a hero, plain and simple. I simply can’t say to myself anymore that gays have no place in the military. I thought you should know.