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We Need a President for 9/12

Saw this on synergy's journal. This article articulates pretty closely the way I feel about the subject. It's well-worth a read.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/opinion/30friedman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin


9/11 Is Over


By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: September 30, 2007

Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a fake news story that began like this:


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

“At a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. ‘My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,’ said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. ‘As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.’ If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world’s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.”

Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true — how much, since 9/11, we’ve become “The United States of Fighting Terrorism.” Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”

You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,” Mr. Dow said.

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.

I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.

Look at our infrastructure. It’s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still can’t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda — crystal clear.

I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet “Euro 4” — European Union — emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We aren’t anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. That’s in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can’t America?

We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
synergy
Oct. 4th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
9/12
I was disappointed to read that one of my favorite feeds, from David Brin, kind of liked this article, but mostly criticized it for only paying attention to something "insignificant" as tourism. I'm pretty sure he did make mention that it's an indicator of our falling influence, so I'm annoyed with Brin about it. But then there's some things I disagree with Brin about anyway, so I guess I should chalk it up to just one of those things.
here_be_dragons
Oct. 4th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Re: 9/12
Wow. That's a rather idiotic view to take (Brin's, not yours :D). Tourism is anything but "insignificant." Perhaps when considering the whole American economy it might seem less important than other industries, but there are areas of the country who completely depend on tourism to make their livings. (Just like there are some entire countries who only stay afloat because of tourist dollars). To call it insignificant is a slap in the face to a great many service workers, and shows a distinct lack of a clue. Yeah, I guess just chalk it up to one of those things, but it's a disappointing criticism, that's for sure.
synergy
Oct. 5th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Re: 9/12
It was that he was saying that tourism is insignificant and not important where he should only be talking about the loss of professional jobs. Maybe it's just me and I'm not reading it right or explaining it. If you want to read it, it's here:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/10/911-912-and-stupid-decade.html
here_be_dragons
Oct. 6th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: 9/12
Okay. That was interesting, and I suppose I can see Brin's point. Not about tourism, per se, but why he needed to find something to criticise about the article - looks like the guy who wrote the original one did quite the about-face, and Brin is annoyed with him in a "what the hell took you so long to get a clue?" way. To which I can relate, as I feel that way myself. I feared this would happen just days after 9/11. Not the specifics, obviously (I couldn't have guessed that). But I knew that war would be WRONG. And yet, GWB somehow didn't pay any attention to the letter I wrote him about it at the time. Surprised? :D

The link to his Professionalism article doesn't work, though. What's that all about? It he talking about outsourcing technology jobs to places like India, or something like that?
synergy
Oct. 6th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
Re: 9/12
Probably, if I remember correctly, what he's talking about is professional soldiers, diplomats, and spooks. He has a running series about the breaking down of the officer's corp by the Bush administration to get rid of soldiers who think independently and bringing in yes men. People who would be in command and wouldn't ask any questions if, should you put on your tinfoil hat, martial law were to be declared or other hijinks happened prior to 11/2008 or 01/2009.
synergy
Oct. 6th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: 9/12
I've been searching Daily Kos, but I don't know where that story is. Brin either got the link totally wrong or the story has vanished into the ether. O.o But yeah, it should be about professional soldiers whom, he alleges, have in the past protected the citizenry from madmen with power because the military is the one that truly holds the power, as in the days of Rome. You can't pull off a coup if you don't have the military on your side.

Here's the 6-part series of Brin's:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6
pictureclepto
Oct. 4th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with much of what the writer said; tragedy stuck and we really haven't learned anything from what happened aside from striking out blindly at anyone within striking distance. When in Ireland this summer I got a bit of a taste of how Americans are viewed away from home, and trying to get back into the country was so painful it was almost exactly like being stuck in the 9th circle of hell. Hell yea our borders are unfriendly, even American citizens were treated like terrorist suspects!
here_be_dragons
Oct. 4th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
The thing that's worst about this for me is that we've done this TO OURSELVES. I was living abroad (in Scotland) when it actually happened, and at that time, Americans away from home were viewed with kindness and cameraderie and sympathy. The rest of the world was on our side, and if Bush had been a different sort of president (oh my, that was an awfully nice way for me to say that; nicer than he deserves), he could have used that as an opportunity to rally the whole world in a POSITIVE way. But he chose war instead.

And yes, I know what you mean about air travel. When we went to Australia I was AMAZED at how easy it was to travel within Australia. Whoa. No lines, everything was nice and friendly. I got to keep my shoe on the whole time! Quite a rude awakening to come back and be subjected to American "security" practices again. Especially since I don't feel any safer because of them, and I don't believe that we ARE safer because of them. That's propaganda that most people buy into, but I don't believe it. We'd need to be smarter to be safer (like, maybe NOT going to war against other countries for a start). Airport "security" is just busywork to make it look like we're safer. IMHO, of course. :)
synergy
Oct. 5th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Airport "security" is just busywork to make it look like we're safer.

IAWTC
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