President Obama, whom Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel
Henninger says is beginning to sound like “the most embittered American
president this country has ever known,” will not remember 9/11 well
this weekend, and it will mar his presidency.
He will be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He will make it feel that in some insidious way it was somehow our fault, as so much seems to be our fault now. As if our children had been there and been killed in the blast at Battery Park, we would share the blame for having had children. America’s sin is being here: It is our fault. But we don’t care.
Obama’s comments tomorrow will be an unremembering. A way of “putting it behind us.” A way of “moving on,” by which he means going back to the '90s or the '70s or the '60s or the 1930s. For us and for the next president, 9/11 and the ensuing conflicts will be seen as a vast beginning: Think of Normandy or Cemetery Ridge. Think of Trafalgar, which suddenly gave England her best 100 years just when she thought she was spent. Better still, think even of Bethlehem and Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple Mount in 70 A.D., which gave the world a new creation that would ride for 2,000 years.
It is not there yet. It is still too early. But it is starting to get there. A hundred years hence and 500 the destruction of the trade centers at Battery Park in New York City — towers that could look oddly like a primitive sun temple when the sky was right to a photographer’s eye — will be remembered like that.
The controversy over the mosque in proximity to Ground Zero — and it is interesting how we mark time from zero there as we did last at Bethlehem — and pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is the beginning of remembering. It is just starting to awaken now and will continue for as long as we remember. To his credit, Jones is motivated by an honest case of revenge and has claimed that he would not burn the Quran if the developers moved the mosque. There is a certain logic to it.
But what is strange coming out of this is Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s comment. Bloomberg, of course, supports the developers but says, “In a strange way, I’m here to defend his [Jones’s] right to do that” because the First Amendment protects everybody. But if Jones burns the book, people are certain to die, including, most likely, American soldiers. Maybe Bloomberg has never seen anyone get his head blown off in warfare. This is fetishistic and cultish: constitutionalism unanchored from reality to become a pseudo-or-secular religion and a crazy one. No doubt he will be at the unremembering.
“Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history,” Ulysses S. Grant wrote in his memoirs.
Obama is too young to understand this, and he will always be too young.
Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.