Skip to comments.MARK STEYN: Flying the flag
Posted on 09/06/2002 11:28:13 PM PDT by MadIvan
I was filling up at a truck stop this week and a guy pulled in alongside. Ford pick-up, late 80s, little rusty. He had a full-size American flag sticking out the rear cab window and a sticker saying "United We Stand Against Terrorism" on the tailgate and a couple more flag decals on the sides.
He glanced at the car in front. A li'l ol' gran'ma was putting five bucks' worth in her two-door sedan. She had a little flag flying from her aerial and a "Proud To Be An American" sticker in the rear window.
Then he looked at me. And I realised my vehicle was bare. The missus had put a laminated "Don't Mess With The US" sign on the back, but, as the year rolled on, somewhere or other it dropped off leaving just the plastic suction pad, the last vestigial hint of my patriotic fervour.
The flags went up on the cars after September 11 and they never came down, and after a year you hardly notice that half the folks on the road have mini flagpoles clipped to both side windows and are driving along fluttering like a grand unending ceremonial escort.
Not everyone sports them, of course, and what bugged me was that the guy in the pick-up had me pegged as a conscious non-flag-flyer, as some pantywaist milquetoast America-disparaging type like those professors at Berkeley, where they've banned the Stars and Stripes from all September 11 commemorations lest it make anyone "uncomfortable". I felt a strange urge to go up to him and say no, look, honestly, I'll bet I'm just as angry as you.
Underneath all the "coping" and "healing" and the rest of the Dianafied soft-focus blur this Wednesday, you won't hear a lot about anger. But quiet, righteous anger is what a lot of Americans still feel. I feel angry every time I'm at Boston's godawful Logan Airport, as crappy and chaotic now as it was a year ago when I dropped off my niece and nephew to fly home from vacation.
Ever since, somewhere between the parking garage and the gate, I think of Mohammed Atta and his accomplices - was this his check-in line? did he use this payphone? A couple of months back there was a guy ahead of me at the cardboard-croissant counter with a thick cloying scent, and I remembered Atta instructing his crew the night before to wear cologne and remove their body hair. What was he thinking as he watched his victims board? Did he see two-year-old Christine Hanson, bound for Disneyland with her parents?
It's the details that stick. I was in a skyscraper last week and looked across and caught the eye of a woman in the building across the street, and I thought of the people in the south tower, after the first plane hit, glancing out the window and seeing the jumpers from the north tower going by - men in business suits, necktie up and flapping, choosing to take one last gulp of air and plunge to their deaths rather than burn and choke in the heat.
I feel sorry for the 55 per cent of Europeans who, according to a poll last week, think falling secretaries and atomised infants are something to do with "US foreign policy". Mohammed Atta and his chums were wealthy, privileged and psychotic, yet feeble British churchmen line up to say the people who did this did it because they're impoverished, downtrodden yet rational. Granted that the fetid swamp of equivalence is often mistaken for the moral high ground, it's rarely been so crowded.
The stampede started almost immediately. On September 12, the Ottawa Citizen ran a column by Susan Riley headlined "At Times Like This, We Thank God That We're Canadians". Oh, God, I groaned, not the usual moral preening. But no, Ms Riley skipped that and went straight for naked self-interest: "Our best protection may be distancing ourselves a little more explicitly from US foreign policy pursuing a reasonable and moderate course in the world's trouble spots."
I've heard it a thousand times since and I still don't get it. By "distancing yourself" from the victims of September 11 you move yourself closer to the perpetrators, closer to barbarism. It may be "reasonable and moderate", but it's also profoundly self-corroding.
This isn't a "clash of civilisations" so much as a clash within civilisations - in the West, between those who believe in the values of liberal democracy and those too numbed by multiculturalist bromides to recognise even the most direct assault on them; and in the Islamic world, between what's left of the moderate Muslim temperament and the Saudi-radicalised death-cult Islamists.
I don't want to be "moderate and reasonable" in the face of Mohammed Atta. A world that "distances" itself from the US to get closer to him is a world that's more misogynist, bigoted, corrupt and superstitious. On this anniversary, I'll have a new flag on my truck and Neil Young's great September 11 anthem in the CD player:
No one has the answers,
But one thing is true,
You got to turn on evil,
When it's comin' after you.
You got to face it down,
And when it tries to hide,
You got to go in after it,
And never be denied.
I don't know what someone's past mistakes have to do with anything, but aren't you being a trifle goofy, posting an editorial/commentary under breaking news? When Steyn pays his light bill, does that also qualify as breaking? Are the moderators paying attention anymore, or just picking their noses until they bleed?
Who died and made you the Catagories Gestapo?
And learn this - you're confusing me with someone who give's a rat's arse about what you think. "Over and out", "tough guy".
The only intelligent people on the thread before I showed up were involved in verabl fisticuffs. How intelligent is that? The intelligent guy wouldn't have been goaded into an escalating war of words.
Perhaps you'd like it better if we let FR become overgrown with weeds, bad habits, and not-so-sharp people who can't take criticism. Gee, what a place that would be! People would come here in droves.
Hey, wait -- they're leaving in droves.
I hate this forum just for this point, and refuse to ever visit this site again.(sarcasm off)