Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years later

I was reading R. Adin Steinsaltz' comments regarding what happened ten years ago.  I have great respect for him as a scholar.  I think he is a great man.

September 11, 2001, I was working out at Gold's Gym on Muddy Branch Road.  My daughter was in preschool at a local synagogue.  My wife was taking a Metro train under the Pentagon.  Suddenly everyone was watching tv rather than exercising.  Then there was a scream from the kiddie room.  There was a very nice Afghan woman running the place.  She had fled her homeland with four kids after her husband was killed forhis apparently intolerable western habits, like shaving and letting his wife go around without a hijab.  Her daughter, at the time a Marine corporal, worked at the Pentagon.  Fortunately, but frighteningly at the time, she had gotten a day off, and left her phone off the hook so she could sleep in.  Her mother, who couldn't contact her, was of course frantic.  I spent two hours comforting her, worried as I was myself.  At the time, one could not contact anyone on the Metro with a cell phone, you see.  I hugged both my daughter and my wife a little tighter than they might have liked that day.

I have not thought that America was different, in the sense of invulnerable.  I have followed the news since, as a small child, I watched Peter Jennings, and Ted Koppel cover Viet Nam in bush jackets.  I paid attention.

I had expected 9/11, or something very much like it, and said so, and was repeatedly described as insane, paranoid, alarmist.  I had anticipated such an event since the 1976 Entebbe rescue, and again when the Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" (I have friends who are, or were, "Palestinians", Jews born in Eretz Yisrael under the British mandate, so called specifically to deny them those "legitimate national aspirations" that Arabs use the term to assert for themselves.) asserted their level of civilization with the suicide bombing Intifada in 1987, and twice as much after the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.  It must be understood that Muslims essentially feel they are entitled to harm kaffir (US), and are entitled by the natural functioning of the universe to succeed in attacking kaffir.  If they attack us, and FAIL, they feel entitled and obligated to seek REVENGE for our not being harmed as much as they had hoped.  When the towers did not fall, and we imprisoned some of the people responsible, I knew they, or their fellows would try again.

Today, we see that organizations are still sending people to strike the West in the teeth, but that individuals also spontaneously decide to do the same.  Al Qaeda apparently sent a cell of either American or American documented terrorists to carbomb either New York or Washington over the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and G-d willing we got the real guys, not the distraction. Recall, though, that a Muslim IT-guy decided to car bomb Times Square not all that long ago because his career wasn't what he'd hoped.  

We are heading into a time where we need a prophet more than a scholar, a time when Glen Beck will be seen retroactively as the voice of sanity.  I'm not calling him a prophet.  All I mean is, we don't seem to ever actually learn from our mistakes and act on that knowledge.  In 2001, the EMS people had the same problems at the towers they had in 1993.  Last Thursday, there was a huge blackout across Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico caused by a cascade resulting from the replacement of a single component, a capacitor in a voltage controlling unit.  Similar outages have occurred over the last twenty years.  The question always asked is not what do we need to do, but why didn't the systems in place work. We need to shift to the active voice.

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