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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 18, 2006 / 25 Elul, 5766

Coverage of 9/11 anniversary was too wimpy

By Mark Steyn


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A lot of the 9/11 anniversary coverage struck me as distastefully tasteful. On the morning of Sept. 12, I was pumping gas just off I-91 in Vermont and picked up the Valley News. Its lead headline covered the annual roll call of the dead — or, as the alliterative editor put it, "Litany of the Lost." That would be a grand entry for Litany of the Lame, an anthology of all-time worst headlines. Sept. 11 wasn't a shipwreck: The dead weren't "lost," they were murdered.


So I skipped that story. Underneath was something headlined "Half a Decade Gone By, A Reporter Still Cannot Comprehend Why." Well, in that case maybe you shouldn't be in the reporting business. After half a decade, it's not that hard to "comprehend": Osama bin Laden issued a declaration of war and then his agents carried out a big attack. He talked the talk, his boys walked the walk. If you need to flesh it out a bit, you could go to the library and look up a book.


But, of course, that's not what the headline means: Instead, it's "incomprehensible" in the sense that, to persons of a certain mushily "progressive" disposition, all such acts are "incomprehensible," all violence is "senseless." Unfortunately, it made perfect sense to the fellows who perpetrated it. Which is what that headline writer finds hard to "comprehend" — or, rather, doesn't wish to comprehend. The piece itself was categorized as "Reflection" — dread word. No self-respecting newspaper should be running "reflections" anywhere upfront of Section G Page 27, and certainly not on the front page. But it has exactly the kind of self-regarding pseudo-sophistication the American media love. The proper tone for 9/11 commemorations is to be sad about all the dead — "the lost" — but in a very generalized soft-focus way. Not a lot of specifics about the lost, and certainly not too many quotes from those final phone calls from the passengers to their families, like Peter Hanson's last words before Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center: "Don't worry, Dad. If it happens, it will be very fast." That might risk getting readers worked up, especially if they see the flight manifest:


"Peter Hanson, Massachusetts

"Susan Hanson, Massachusetts

"Christine Hanson, 2, Massachusetts"


No, best to stick to a limpidly fey, tastefully mopey, enervatedly passive prose style that suggests nothing very much can be done about the incomprehensible lost. This tasteful passivity is the default mode of the age: Five years ago it was striking, even in the immediate aftermath, how many radio and TV trailers for blood drives and other relief efforts could only bring themselves over the soupy music track to refer vaguely to "the tragic events," as if any formulation more robust might prove controversial.


Passivity is far slyer and more lethal than rabid Bush hatred. Say what you like about the left-wing kooks but they can still get a good hate on. Sure, they hate Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Halliburton and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh rather than Saddam and the jihadists, but at least they can still muster primal emotions. Every morning I wake up to a gazillion e-mails from fellows wishing me ill, usually beginning by calling me a "chicken hawk" followed by a generous smattering of words I can only print here peppered with asterisks, and usually ending with pledges to come round and shove various items in a particular part of my anatomy. There's so much shipping scheduled to go up there I ought to get Dubai Ports World in to run it.


The foaming leftie routine seems to be a tough sell to a general audience. I see that, a mere three weeks after I guest-hosted for Rush, the widely acclaimed and even more widely unlistened-to Air America is going belly up. Coincidence? You be the judge. But I doubt the "liberal" radio network would be kaput if anti-Bush fever were about to sweep the Democrats to power this November. I think I said a few months back that the Dems would be waking up to their usual biennial Wednesday morning after the Tuesday night before, and I'll stick with that.


But there's more to the national discourse than party politics. And, whoever wins or loses, the cult of feebly tasteful passivity rolls on regardless. As part of National Review's fifth anniversary observances, JWR contributor James Lileks wrote the following:


"If 9/11 had really changed us, there'd be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there's a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don't. And we don't seem interested in asking why."


Ray Nagin, New Orleans' Mayor Culpa, is a buffoon but he nevertheless had a point when he scoffed at the ongoing hole in the ground in Lower Manhattan. And whatever fills it is never going to include those "stern stone eagles." The best we can hope for is that the Saudi-funded Islamic Outreach Center will only take up a third of the site. But in our hearts we know whatever memorial eventually stands on the spot will be rubbish — tasteful rubbish, but rubbish all the same. Last year, I criticized the Flight 93 memorial, the "Crescent of Embrace," whose very title is a parodic masterpiece of note-perfect generically effete huggy-weepy blather. And in return I received a ton of protests pointing out that the families of the Flight 93 heroes had "approved" the design. All that demonstrates, I think, is how thoroughly constrained our society is within its own crescent of embrace: The cult of passivity has insinuated itself deep into our bones. Behind those "IMAGINE PEACE" stickers lies a terrible failure to imagine.


At what point does a society become simply too genteel to wage war? We're like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who covered up the legs of their pianos. Acts of war against America have to be draped in bathetic music and uncomprehending reflections and crescents of embrace. We fight tastefully, too. Last week one of America's unmanned drones could have killed 200 Taliban big shots but they were attending a funeral and we apparently have a policy of not killing anybody near cemeteries out of sensitivity. So even our unmanned drones are obliged to behave with sensitivity. But then, these days the very soundtrack to our society is, so to speak, an unmanned drone.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2006, Mark Steyn

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