A RECKONING FOR THE NOISEMAKERS
By JOHN PODHORETZ
New York Post
September 13, 2001 -- AS all Americans grapple with the painful fact of our
national complacency in the face of terrorism, America's chattering and
scribbling classes are going to face a reckoning of their own - an
accounting of their complacency and willful blindness in the face of a
Tuesday, both before and after the planes hit the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, two elite American institutions offered stark portraits of
the complacency that helped lure this nation into a false sense of security.
Tuesday's New York Times hit doorsteps at about 7 a.m. with a lead article
in its Arts section that must have made even its own author bow her head in
shame only three hours later. For the subject of Dinitia Smith's adulatory
profile was a proud and cocksure American terrorist who bragged
lightheartedly about his involvement with the group that designed and
carried out the 1972 bombing . . . of the Pentagon.
It was only one of 14 bombings for which he and the Weather Underground
Here's what The New York Times has to say about Bill Ayers: "He still has
the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently intense interest in
other people, that made him a charismatic figure . . . Today [he and his
wife] seem like typical baby boomers."
His wife is Bernardine Dohrn, with whom he went on the lam for years in the
1970s. And how does this wonderful couple keep it all going? "Happily for
me," Bernardine told the Times, "Billy keeps me laughing, he keeps me growing."
Why did the Times devote such space to these relics of the 1960s? Well,
Bill Ayers has a book out, you see. It's a book in which he writes
sentences like: "Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the
Pentagon." He told the Times that he wouldn't "want to discount the
possibility" that he would do it all again if he had his life to live over.
Why are such monstrous, such evil, such horrific and deluded people -
people who to this day think that their domestic terrorism was an
acceptable method of political expression - given such sympathetic
treatment in The New York Times?
They opposed the Vietnam War. That's why. That's the only reason why. They
were 1960s radicals who opposed the Vietnam War. The logic is simple for an
anti-war liberal: Perhaps their tactics were wrong, but their hearts were
in the right place, and isn't it nice that they've made a nice life for
A nation whose elites don't take terrorism seriously when it is committed
by its own rich kids - a nation whose supposed "newspaper of record" still
has a romantic gleam in its eye when writing about said domestic terrorists
- is suffering from a form of unilateral spiritual disarmament.
But that wasn't even the worst sentiment expressed Tuesday. The worst came
from the pen of John Lahr of the New Yorker magazine. Lahr writes about the
theater, not about politics, so the words he spewed on the Slate.com Web
site are indicative only of what is clearly deemed an acceptable attitude
among the fashionable left:
"Isn't it odd that on the day - the DAY - that the Democrats launched their
most blistering attack on 'the absolute lunacy' of Bush's unproven
missile-defense system . . . that the rogue nation should suddenly become
such a terrifying reality. The fact that I could even think such a thought
says more to me about the bankruptcy and moral exhaustion of our leaders
even in the face of a disaster where any action, in the current nightmare,
will seem like heroism. But I do smell destabilizing violence in the wings.
In fear, the nation, to my mind, has always proved mean-spirited and violent."
Yes, there you have it. Only minutes after two planes hit the World Trade
Center, killing thousands upon thousands of Americans, a leading cultural
intellectual feels comfortable expressing in public the view that George W.
Bush might - just might - be behind it. After all, Lahr wrote with an
idiotic fervor reminiscent of Oliver Stone, "We still don't really know who
killed Kennedy or Martin Luther King; it took us a long time to find out
the hidden agenda to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin
On Tuesday morning, the media elites still found it acceptable - even
admirable to see the world through the prism of the anti-Vietnam,
This is Thursday morning in a sadder but wiser America. We can only hope
that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the elite media will henceforth be
sadder and wiser as well.
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