Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

Reflections on 9/11:  Twenty Years Later

September 12, 2021

Reflections on 9/11:  Twenty Years Later

            “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ “

—–Jerry Falwell Sr. September 13, 2001

            I recently heard an interview with Hillary Clinton, who was a Senator from New York in 2001 when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon, killing over 3,000 Americans (at the time the number was estimated to be at least twice that).  She recalled the horror of that day, and the overwhelming emotion of personally visiting Ground Zero days later.  She also recalled the way Americans of all political, religious, ethnic and social backgrounds rallied around the nation, and each other, to support their nation and to offer support to one another.  I recall that time of dismay but not despair, and how everyone from rock stars to politicians to Muslim imams to Catholic priests to atheists to countless millions of average Americans did whatever they could think to do, whether it was holding a telethon to raise money to help the families of the lost, to leading interfaith prayer services, to writing to encourage one another to take heart and stand together against bloodlust and chaos, to joining the military to defend the nation. 

            But one group did not join in this great impulse of unity:  Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and countless other Evangelicals and culture warriors.  They sought to divide.  They sought to blame their fellow Americans.  They sought to turn the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor into a political advantage for the Religious Right.  As al Qaeda was seeking to turn Americans against one another, the leaders of American Evangelicalism were helping them, unwittingly I believe, by succumbing to fear and loathing of their neighbors and to their own sense of moral superiority.  God was punishing the nation; but surely God wasn’t displeased with them, so it must be their political foes who are to blame.  Simply rid the nation of liberals and feminists and pagans and anyone who didn’t share the agenda of White Evangelical Christians, and we could all sleep peacefully; until then, we’d have to wait in dread, moment by moment, for a wrathful God to smite us again.  Even though the Bible never condemns abortion, even though Jesus flouted the subservient role his culture assigned women by defending Mary as she sat with the men listening to his words instead of feeding and serving them, even though women like Priscilla were early leaders of the Church in apostolic times, Jerry Falwell Sr. had no hesitancy in blaming feminists and pro-choice Christians, among others, for the 9/11 attacks, as he sought to turn others against his political opponents.  President Bush denounced his statements, even some other Evangelical leaders chided him, and he apologized; but he had spoken from his heart, said the quiet part out loud, and in the moment when almost every other American was looking for ways to support their neighbors he revealed that he and the other Culture Warriors were more interested in scapegoating. 

            In 2001 the atheist and iconoclast Christopher Hitchens denounced the al Qaeda terrorists as the last gasp of a dying ideology.  The forces of freedom and civilization were too strong; while terrorists would be able to unleash events, they would never turn the tide.  The barbarians, as he put it, would fail and fall, though they might do a lot of harm to their own people and to others along the way.  In 2021, by contrast, the conservative Culture Warriors, American citizens, are the ones attacking America, and the nation faces a far greater danger than it did in 2001.  When COVID-19 first appeared, White supremacists started urging each other to spread the disease at every opportunity.  Today they continue to fight efforts at moderate, common-sense public health measures like wearing masks around unvaccinated children.  The difference is that when the Religious Right, (mostly White) Evangelicals tried to turn 9/11 into another battle in their Culture War, they were shut down by everyone from President Bush to the hoi polloi.  In 2021, President* Trump’s White House actively encouraged people to resist efforts to fight the pandemic.  Almost immediately after describing the fight against COVID-19 as a war and himself as a wartime president, Trump showed that he was willing to fight—against doctors, against scientists, against political and religious leaders trying to organize a resistance; but he was fighting to help the virus he himself had labeled “the enemy” in this war.  If he was a wartime leader, he was Benedict Donald.

            President Bush rallied the nation to join together and fight against a common threat, and his popularity soared; it wasn’t surprising when he won reelection.  Trump denigrated his own experts, divided Americans, and actively worked to sabotage efforts by others to fight against the common threat; and for this reason it was not too surprising that he lost.  Bush fought against terrorists; Trump and the Republican party describe the January 6th terrorists who stormed our nation’s Capitol as “political prisoners,” refuse to form a bipartisan commission like the 9/11 Commission that investigated security failures and other problems revealed by the terrorist attack.  It shouldn’t be shocking that they are doing this.  Falwell and Robinson revealed twenty years ago that this is who they are.  This is what the right-wing Culture Warriors do.  Democracy means compromise and tolerance of The Other, your neighbor; if you think that having a gay neighbor or a Wiccan or Muslim neighbor, or a woman who votes and has her own job and speaks her mind as a neighbor, means that an angry but nearsighted God will smite you in His attempts to punish them, then the last thing you want is tolerance, compromise, or democracy.  These things are deadly threats to the right-wing culture warrior.  They are even bigger threats to the people who make millions of dollars by merchandising hate and fear.  Whether its conservative “news” organization selling advertising time, or panhandlers and charlatans on television and in megachurches, or sellers of gold and guns and MREs and other goods supposed to help survive the coming apocalypse (which inexplicably the buyers were both preparing to survive and expecting to escape via The Rapture), or a politician relying on anger and fear to turn out the base in the next election, there is a huge Culture War Industrial Complex driving the nation towards chaos for the many, profits for the few.

            If we want to fight al Qaeda and its allies, if we want to honor our fallen, the only meaningful way to do so is to reject the Culture Wars by rejecting, shunning, voting against the Culture Warriors until the entire money-grubbing, vote-whoring enterprise crashes.  We’ve tried to fight the Culture Wars with reasonable arguments, democratic processes and simple refusal to engage.  That got us a right-wing government that consciously helped spread an epidemic among the American people, hoping to undermine the political fortunes of Democratic leaders who tried to require people to wear masks in much the same way they are required to wear shoes in restaurants to avoid spreading germs.  It got us a government and a political party working to sabotage effective methods to fight a deadly pandemic, while using insider information to generate profits for its leaders who invested in everything from hydroxychloroquine to body bags. Ignoring the Culture Warriors got us riots and insurrection, attacks on national and state governments, and police officers murdered by White supremacists so that BLM can be blamed.  Ignoring the Culture Warriors of the Religious Right has gotten us years of conservative media and religious leaders calling for a second Civil War.  We need to take them as seriously as we took the threat from al Qaeda, because they are more dangerous and more despicable.  That does not mean fighting with the same violence they have shown in their assaults on teachers, nurses, law enforcement, the press, peaceful protestors, kids working after school whose manager has told them to ask customers to wear a mask, and others.  But it does mean fighting in even greater numbers and greater determination, by marching, by phoning political leaders, by leaving churches that condone right-wing paranoid delusions and thuggery, and by voting against the GOP at every opportunity, voting straight Democrat until the Republican party either collapses and is replaced by a legitimate center-right party, or reforms itself by purging the QAnon cultists, the White supremacists, the dictator coddlers, and most emphatically by repudiating the corrupt, seditious and profoundly ignorant leader and his enablers who have turned today’s GOP into MAGA: Moscow’s American Guerilla Army.

For further reading:

Insurrection Fallout:  Politico September 11, 2021 (

Brian Naylor, “Senate Republicans Block a Plan for an Independent Commission on Jan. 6th Capitol Riot;” NPR May 28, 2021 (

Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, “Boycott the Republican Party;” The Atlantic March 2018 (

Dirk Vanderheart and Conrad Wilson, “Oregon Lawmaker who Opened Capitol to Far-Right Protestors Faces Charges;” NPR May 1, 2021 (

Ailsa Chang, “Investigation Lays Out Plot to Kidnap Michigan’s Governor;” NPR July 28, 2021 (

Richard Winton, Maura Dolan and Anita Chabria, “Far-right ‘Boogaloo Boys’ Linked to Killing of California Law Officers and Other Violence;” LA Times June 17, 2020 ( At the RNC later that year, Mike Pence linked these killings to BLM rather than mention they were carried out by White Supremacists

Karma Allen, “Man Who Helped Ignite George Floyd Protests Identified as White Supremacist:  Police;” ABC News July 29, 2020 (

Jake Pearson, “Republican Billionaire’s Group Pushes Unproven COVID-19 Treatment Trump Promoted;” ProPublica March 26, 2020 (


“Police:  Richmond Riots Instigated by White Supremacists Disguised as Black Lives Matter;” WSLS 10 July 28, 2020 (


Margaret Carlson, “Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, Profiting Off Pandemic Pain, Are the Ugly Faces of GOP Corruption;” Daily Beast Jan. 3, 2021 (

Matt Steib, “Trump’s Disregard for Blue States Is at the Heart of His Shoddy COVID Response;” Intelligencer July 31, 2020 (

Minyvonne Burke, “In 9/11 Speech, Bush Pays Tribute to ‘America I Know,’ Calls Out Domestic Terrorism Threat;” NBC News September 11, 2021 (

“Biden, Obama and Clinton Mark 9/11 in New York with Display of Unity;” CBS News September 11, 2021 (

Laurie Goodstein, “Falwell:  Blame Abortionists, Feminists and Gays;” The Guardian September 19, 2001 (


Thoughts on September 11, 2020

September 12, 2020

September 11, 2020



I’ve tried to comment or reflect on the state of the world every year at this time as my personal 9/11 remembrance. This year I’ve been struck by a campaign ad Sen. Mitch McConnell is running against his challenger, Amy McGrath. The ad begins with an audio recording of her comparing the feeling she had when Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election with the feeling she had after the 9/11/2001 terror attacks. The ad goes on to mock and attack her for this feeling, saying it shows she’s “wrong for Kentucky.”

As I wrote to Mr. McConnell, I agree the statements by McGrath are unfair. It really is unfair to compare Osama bin Laden to Donald Trump. Bin Laden killed around 3,000 Americans through his terror attacks and triggered an economic downturn. Donald Trump lied repeatedly, and continues to lie to the American people about the COVID-19 pandemic, because he has money in the stock market and doesn’t want to say or do anything that might cause stock prices to decline. Through his active sabotage of our nation’s efforts to defend itself against the threat of the coronavirus, he has killed more Americans than Osama even dreamt of. People who know about infectious diseases say that if we had responded reasonably, such as following the playbook President Obama left for a national pandemic response, we could have avoided up to 80% of the deaths we have suffered.[1] Even taking the more conservative 70% other models have suggested, that means roughly 135,000 American dead due to Donald Trump and his Republican party’s choice to hide the truth from the American people, to encourage suicidal behavior and to rely on fantasies and wishes rather than science, and to call on the moral, spiritual and intellectual dregs of “Christian leaders” to wrap this self-serving sacrifice of the lives of Americans and welfare of the nation in the swaddling cloths of Prosperity Gospel and Christian White Nationalism, and lay it in the manger as the new savior. If “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” then it is also true to say, “Osama has slain his thousands, and Donald his hundreds of thousands.” And of course, it isn’t even Autumn yet; wait until we really get into the holiday travel-and-party season with millions of Americans still firmly convinced that COVID-19 is just a Democratic hoax.

Osama also never undermined Americans’ trust in their electoral system. He didn’t tear the states apart, as he wished; in fact, he brought them together and forged the strongest sense of national unity we’d seen in a generation or two. Donald, on the other hand, invites foreigners to hack our elections, attacks the legitimacy of the election without evidence before it has even taken place, deliberately pitted states against each other to compete for medical supplies to fight COVID-19, encourages armed terrorists to murder Americans in the name of white supremacy, defends Confederate rebels and promotes conservative pundits who call for a “second Civil War,” calls peaceful protesters who take a knee at a sporting event sons-of-bitches and traitors, and promotes literally insane conspiracy theories about a worldwide conspiracy of Satanic-cannibal-pedophiles with (according to some) colonies in space. Osama would have been overjoyed if he had caused even half as much chaos and strife as Donald has.

McGrath is also unfair to compare Osama to Donald because Osama never faked bone spurs.

Osama also hoped to bankrupt the United States. This is something he could never accomplish on his own; he needed the incompetent acquiescence or the connivance of American politicians. He found both in the Republican party. First, GW Bush took over a country with a balanced budget on its way to paying off its national debt, and immediately threw it into deficit spending that didn’t stimulate the economy or improve national infrastructure but did help billionaires get richer. By the time he left office, his reckless deregulation of the financial institutions and feckless management of the economy had led us to the Great Recession. After eight years, President Obama had, despite Republican efforts to sabotage the national recovery, managed to put the country back on the path to fiscal solvency. Trump and the GOP wrecked that in one year, running up the greatest deficits the nation had ever seen with no other purpose than to enrich the rich while depleting Social Security, Medicare and other programs the poor and the middle class rely on. Now we are in an economic mess that makes the Great Recession look pleasant by comparison, because Donald refuses to protect the health of the people, the health of the nation’s infrastructure, or any other element of a sound economy. He does a passable job with the Stock Market where he and his golfing buddies like to make money, but that’s the full extent of his economic attention. Again, while Osama only promised, Donald delivered.

Those who were filled with dread in November 2016 have seen their worst nightmares come true—-or to be fair, maybe their second-worst nightmares, since (so far) Dolt45 hasn’t gotten us into a nuclear war so only the West Coast is burning and not every American city. And Mitch McConnell says I should vote for him because he stopped the impeachment, which would have removed an incompetent, treasonous and mentally unstable president* and replaced him with his hand-picked successor, Vice President Pence, who at least has experience botching an epidemic and thus might have had a clue what not to do. Somehow, if this election is to be decided over whether McGrath overreacted to Trump’s election or McConnell failed to react to Trump’s actions once elected, I don’t see how any reasonable person could hesitate to vote straight Democrat in every election from President to County Clerk, until the current Republican Party is disbanded and replaced by a competent center-right party.[2]

Mitch McConnell made sure that when a major crisis hit this nation, we would be led by the most incompetent, stupid, short-sighted and selfish person imaginable. The only response this blithering idiot has to the pandemic is to try to distract us by fanning the flames of race hatred and oppression, because he’s not only stupid and neurotic, he’s also racist. McGrath apparently had the foresight to realize in 2016 that putting a self-absorbed racist idiot at the helm of the ship of state would inevitably lead to us finding an iceberg to hit. Clearly, she is the wiser of the two candidates. Thank you, Mr. McConnell, for running a campaign ad that so clearly lays out the choice in this election, and why you are so terribly unfit for office.

[1] Isaac Sebenius and James K. Sebenius, “How Many Needless COVID-19 Deaths were Caused by Delays in Responding? Most of Them;” STAT June 19, 2020 (

[2] Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, “Boycott the Republican Party;” The Atlantic March 2018 (

Why Were We Attacked on 9/11? Why Must We Remember? What Have We Forgotten?

September 11, 2018

This.  This is why we were attacked.

Al Qaeda was originally founded to overthrow the corrupt tyrannies in the Muslim world.  Osama bin Laden and his gang believed that the governments that they opposed were propped up by Western democracies and Communist dictatorships, and would never be removed until the influence of those outside powers was broken.  They knew they could ever do this in open war, as the Prophet had done when he led the faithful from Medina to unify the Arabian peninsula or the Caliphs had done when they led armies out of Arabia into Africa and across Asia, eventually even into parts of Europe.  Instead, they chose to rely on terrorism and attrition.  They would commit acts of terror in countries they intended to conquer, in order to destabilize them.  The government would have to commit to guarding everywhere, and still would not be able to insure peace.  People would start to turn on each other, as their government’s financial resources were drained and they had to rely on themselves for security.  Eventually, the country would collapse into anarchy, and the former national unity would fracture along tribal and ethnic lines.  This vicious infighting would be the “savagery” part of the strategy.  Then they, the terrorists who originally caused the problems, would ride in to fix the problems.  This is the “management” part.  They would restore the very social services they had destroyed, restore law and order, and bring peace.

And where would Russia, the US, and Europe be during all this time?  The plan was to lure these powers into war on Muslim soil.  This would serve as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda, and would drain the great powers of their chief advantage:  their wealth.  As they went bankrupt, they would break up and lose the ability to export their culture, their movies, their blue jeans, and their political ideas, notions about women’s rights and so on.  This is the strategy they used to shatter the USSR and, they thought, it would work against the USA too.  Big, spectacular attacks like 9/11/01 are giant, bloody recruitment posters for al Qaeda, as well as attempts to goad the West into unending war and eventual bankruptcy.

At first, it seemed like it would fail, miserably.  This is why we need to remember.  After 9/11, the entire civilized world united against the forces of barbarism and savagery.  We had more pro-USA rallies around the world in the days and weeks after the World Trade Center fell than we had at any time since the defeat of Hitler, maybe even more.  The values that our nation was founded on—that all people are created equal, that we the people should control our own government—are principles that were valued around the world, even in the Islamic world.  The Muslim world has suffered under colonization and economic exploitation, as well as centuries of economic and intellectual stagnation that had left it weak and vulnerable in the 20th Century; but even there, many people want freedom, peace and prosperity, government that works for the people and in which they have some voice, even if the form that takes is not the same as our democracy.  And even people who disagreed with us did not agree with the idea of killing men, women and children who were working, or shopping, or on school trips to the city, people who might themselves be Muslim or Jewish or Christian, American or European or Asian or African, anyone who happened to be in the World Trade Center.  And we Americans, who had been pushed apart by the Culture Wars of the 1990s, came together, despite differences in race, class or religion.  Gay and straight, atheist and faithful, rich and poor all came together to mourn as one people, and to dedicate ourselves to preserving the promise of the United States of America.  We had national prayer services, we had fundraising telethons, public expressions of patriotism surged, and military recruiters were busier than they had ever been since the end of the draft.

There were some voices of dissent to all this unity.  Culture warriors like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on the Right chose to blame feminists and progressives for the attacks, saying that God hates equal pay for women and help for the poor so much that He (sic) sent the terrorists to punish us.  Culture warriors on the Left chose to blame the victim, saying that the terrorist attacks were just retribution for the past wrongs of colonization and the present wrongs of racism and exploitation  But the vast majority of people, from George W. Bush to Christopher Hitchens, were horrified, and we mostly saw those voices of division for what they were:  self-serving attempts to keep the Culture War Industry going and its leaders prosperous.

What we have forgotten, though, is that although we were more unified than ever, the forces of division never gave up.  Falwell and Robinson merely bided their time.  More to the point, the Republican party leaped into bin Laden’s trap.  Instead of pursuing a financially sound strategy, attacking and defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan while negotiating with other Muslim nations to side with us against this common foe, they launched a second front in Iraq, a regime that for all its despicableness had nothing to do with the terrorists who attacked us.  Yes, they supported terrorists in Israel, but not al Qaeda. They launched these wars with no realistic idea how to end them, with inadequate garrison forces to control the land and prevent them from descending into the very savagery bin Laden was seeking to create.  And worst, they did all this without paying for any of it running up huge national debts where the previous president had left a surplus that would have paid off the debt if only the Bush tax cuts hadn’t been passed.  As a result of this economic mismanagement, the world experienced an economic collapse in 2008 that much of Europe, Asia and Africa still has not recovered from.  The USA, under Obama, managed to stop the economic free-fall and slowly improve the economy, which has grown steadily for about ten years now.

Today, the United States government is pursuing national and international policies that seem to be intended to make bin Laden’s dream come true.  He could never have sabotaged the USA economy without help, which he got from Republican tax cuts.  He could never have sabotaged the world economy and alliances without help, which he got from the White House.  Bin Laden could never have turned Americans against each other and threatened to break up the United States into disunited separate nations, if it weren’t for the cooperation of Republicans who called out their state militias to watch Jade Helm exercises, or threatened to shoot Federal workers who sought to enforce health care laws, or who simultaneously worked tirelessly to deprive American citizens of the right to vote while threatening “Second Amendment Remedies” against anyone they didn’t like who had the gall to win in a free and fair election.  We have forgotten what it was that our enemies wanted, and thus have allowed them to come closer to victory than ever before.

My 9/11 Reflections (this is a long one)

September 9, 2011

My 9/11 Reflections


Good Lord, has it been ten years?

Ten years ago I was finishing up my doctoral thesis and the stay-home day parent for my kids while my wife worked days for the church.  At night it was her turn to be parent while I taught Religion in America and Introduction to Ethics at the local community college.  So I was mostly on a nocturnal schedule.  I had no idea what was going on until hours later, when I woke up and played the phone message from my sister assuring me that she was all right.  Why wouldn’t she be all right?  What could be wrong?  What was going on?  I found out as soon as I turned on the television, of course.  She was at the State Department, and everyone had been sent home after a plane hit the Pentagon a few miles away.  Now she was home with her husband waiting to see if any more planes would hit, if any of her friends would die.  And I still had children to care for that day, piano lessons and school buses and all the rest.  School was cancelled the next day, and we had a departmental meeting to determine how we could help our students.  Of course, I rewrote my syllabus:  we wouldn’t be waiting until the end of the course to discuss Islam this year.

I remember how even MTV, which pretty much has always glorified excess, self-indulgence and generally short-term thinking in all its forms, suddenly became one of the best sources explaining Islam to its viewers.  I remember Dan Rather on the Letterman show, nearly breaking down in tears.  I remember Jon Stewart saying that he used to look out his window and see the World Trade Center.  “Now,” he said, “I look out and see the Statue of Liberty.  You can’t beat that.”

That was what most of us felt:  pain, anger, fear, but also an immense love for our country, maybe deeper than we’d ever realized now that someone was trying to take it all away from us.  There were, however, stupid people.  I remember them too.  On the left, we had idiots like Ward Churchill, who said the terrorist attacks were because of our nation’s foreign policy.  On the right, we had idiots like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, saying the attacks were because God was punishing us for the feminists and liberals.  I’d already read enough about Islam, in seminary and as part of my teaching for five years, to know that both of these were wrong.  Way back before the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini had complained that Muslims were “Westoxified:”  intoxicated on Western things and values, like MTV and women being allowed fully human status in society.  The only way to stop the rising and growing Muslim bourgeoisie from developing bourgeoisie values, he taught, was for Muslims to destroy the West, and in particular to destroy or at least neutralize the United States, which he saw as the leader of the industrialized, capitalist, democratic world he so hated.  And in the Sunni world, bin Laden had taken up that same line of reasoning:  that if the U.S. was the source of modern values around the world, the only way to keep Muslims in a truly primitive mindset was to eliminate that cultural influence.  So I knew it wasn’t God’s judgment on us; while the U.S. isn’t perfect, the idea that God would kill thousands of innocent people because there were liberals in the nation is just obscene.  And the thought that bin Laden had any specific motive for the attack is absurd; his gripe is that we breath the air Allah intended only for Salafi Muslims, and that our culture is so powerful and so inviting that the only way to keep the whole world from embracing it is to destroy it utterly.  It couldn’t possibly be the case that Muslims were even then becoming more prosperous and more politically aware, and their rising bourgeois expectations were completely natural and spontaneous!

So we had some American idiots on both sides of the Culture Wars, trying to say how the terrorist attacks were because of the other side.  But most of us, including me, were simply outraged that anyone would be in such a hurry to return to the partisanship, the shallowness, the shortsightedness and the selfishness of September 10, 2001.  We knew, even if Churchill and Falwell didn’t, that we had real enemies out there; we weren’t in a hurry to create or hold onto enemies at home.  We all felt a tremendous unity.  I have to go back now and check old news stories to verify that, so little is that feeling evident today.  At the time, Churchill and Falwell and all of those who were so eager to join the terrorists in trying to tear our country apart were vilified; Falwell apologized and Churchill was fired.  We were all in this together, we knew, and whether you like the guy on the seat next to you or not you all have to row together or the ship’s going down in the storm.

Dan Rather is known for many things; blind allegiance to the State isn’t one of them.  But that night on Letterman, he said, “George Bush is the president, he makes the decisions … wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where,” …… “He’ll make the call.”  And that’s how all of us felt.  As a Floridian who voted for Gore—-I think—–I had serious doubts about his legitimacy.  I didn’t base it on phony-baloney doubts about his birth certificate; I had real reasons to wonder whether the votes had been tallied properly.  But at that moment, I knew we had to put all that aside.  Gays, straights, religious, atheists, men, women, black, white, Christian, Muslim—-all Americans had to come together, and by and large most wanted to come together.

The other thing I remember is how much I wanted to help.  Again, I have to go back and look at news stories; these days selfishness is a virtue (literally; Ayn Rand is the most important philosopher to the Right, and she has a book titled The Virtue of Selfishness).  Today I am preparing my lesson for tomorrow in Introduction to Ethics, and we’re talking about altruism.  On Religion and Ethics Newsweekly there was a marvelous story on the subject some years ago.[1]  As one of the subjects of the interview put it:


The immediate response when people from all over the world just left their normal lives, got in cars, got on planes, and came to New York to say, “How can I help?”….. The way we were — people were running in to sacrifice themselves for others. It was like a huge revelation of how precious we are to each other, even total strangers. To me that is where God was in this.



That is what we were:  a nation wanting to help, to help total strangers, even people we would have scorned a day earlier.  My wife and I donated money to help the victims.  We were also, I think, just more caring in general.  And I wished I could do more, wished someone would ask me to do more.

But again, from the start there was the entrenched, pre-9/11 mentality at work.  While the partisanship and the finger-pointing and divisiveness came from both ends of the political spectrum, the push towards a return to selfishness came almost entirely from conservatives, and most troublingly, from our government.  Bush’s speech to Congress on September 21, 2001 was wonderful in recalling all of us, as Americans and even as civilized people around the world, to join together against the forces of violence and division and destruction.  But that speech, and the others from that time, never told us what we could do.  I was told to stay home, to buy things to revive the economy, to keep living my life as I always had, to accept a tax cut, and in short to just sit back and let the government take care of everything.  I really felt, and still feel, that the Bush administration thought we were all still too childish to accept a call to strive and do.  The Afghan war was to be fought almost risk-free, with very few Americans on the ground.  And really, that probably was for the best since the Afghans would have just seen a hundred thousand American troops as proof that we were planning to conquer and occupy them as the Soviets had tried.  But there was also that undercurrent that the American public couldn’t take casualties, and that it was better to fight a war by proxy than to risk even one casualty because we were too soft to endure it, too fickle to put up with it.  I think they sold us short on that; at that time I think we would have gladly fought as long as our grandfathers had fought the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.  As Yamamoto had said at that time, we could have said to the Taliban:  you have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.  But our own government was afraid to test our resolve.

If our government had called us to a real wartime effort, we would have done anything:  rebuild our infrastructure so we’d have an economy that would dominate the world for the next hundred years, paid taxes to buy more body armor for our troops and to support our soldiers adequately when they came home, anything. At the very least, we could have postponed the tax cut so we would all have felt like we were doing our part.  But as it turned out, the government didn’t have a part for us to do.  The only sacrifice we were asked to make was of our privacy, our civil liberties, and our rights as Americans to due process and habeas corpus and the other rights our Founding Fathers had fought, killed and died for.  They didn’t fight for lower taxes; they fought for the right to tax themselves, for a representative government, but not for an absence of government or of responsibility to it.  Today, if you talk about your “rights” you’re scorned as selfish, unpatriotic or at least naïve; but if you demand your taxes be cut even lower than the historically all-time low rate they already are, you’re a patriot like the ones at Boston Harbor.

Our leaders were afraid to call upon “the better angels of our nature;” instead they appealed to our basest instincts, fear and partisanship and selfishness.  When the call came for war against Iraq, I initially supported it; but it was obvious to me that again, our government was treating us like babies.  Any idiot could see that when Rumsfeld and Cheney told us the war would be over in six weeks and that Iraqi reconstruction would pay for itself, and that we might even make a profit out of the whole thing, that they were either liars or fools.  An eight-year old child could have seen that if the Iraqis chose to blow up their own oil, the oil profits would not be there to pay us back for rebuilding their country.  That’s what we would have done if some foreign occupier had come into our country; how could it have been a surprise to them?  Did they really think it would be like the U.S. Army marching into Paris in 1944?  Did they not see that it might be more like the welcome we got when we crossed the Rhine?  They aren’t that dumb.  They simply believed that the war against Iraq was a good idea, and that if we citizens knew the true costs likely to be demanded of us that we would refuse to do this important thing, so we needed to be lied to, and treated like silly children who won’t take their medicine unless they get a lollipop.

Is it any wonder that today, ten years later, the most amazing thing is how little has changed?  As one headline puts it, Post-9/11 ‘new normal’ looks much like old.”[2]  And in fact, it does: just as partisan, just as petty, just as selfish, just as cynical, just as depressing as it did before the shock and pain of those attacks taught us that we are all Americans, and that as Americans and just as decent human beings there are things that bind us together that matter more than the things that push us apart.

Looking back after ten years, I see that we had an opportunity to become the generation that our grandchildren would have called “The Greatest.”  We didn’t miss that opportunity.  We fled it at warp speed.  Too many of our pundits and political and religious leaders were terrified of giving up the Culture Wars.  They preferred the pre-9/11 mentality, which they were used to and which had rewarded them so well.  I didn’t vote for Obama in the primary; I voted Hillary.  I mention that just to emphasize that I was not and am not the empty-headed romantic that the cynical, selfish liars have tried to claim all Americans who don’t drink their tea are.  I am a true patriot; one thing 9/11 taught me is that I love this country and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had because of it.  It is worth fighting for, and it is worth paying for.  Somehow, being willing to pay for your country has become unpatriotic.  However, being willing to pay more in payroll taxes so the CEO of the bank that foreclosed on your house can have a tax cut—that is patriotic.  When I think of the past, when I listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Into the Fire,” or watch my tape of the National Memorial Service, I still get choked up.  But when I look at today, I see a nation that has come through a culture war, and the culture lost.  Bin Laden attacked us because he thought he could bankrupt us, and that the fifty states would turn on each other and dissolve our Union.  That was insane.  But after eight years of tax cuts we couldn’t afford and still can’t, we seem much closer to realizing his dream.  We have the so-called patriots of Oklahoma openly discussing taking up arms against their own elected government.[3]  We have a candidate for President who has said that Texas has a right to secede and that if the government elected by the majority of Americans doesn’t suit Texans, they might do so.[4]  People who call themselves Christians ridicule “Kumbayah.”  Paul wrote, “These three things abide:  faith, hope and love”—–but today “hope” is a dirty word.  The Bible says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” and “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”—-but today “change” is a dirty word (Isa 43:19;  2 Cor 5:17).

So yes, I was excited when we had a President who called out for hope and change.  If the president before him had done that, we’d still have a Republican in the White House.  Instead, the party of hopelessness and inertia fought tooth and claw for its own power.   So now, after ten years, I still feel pain and loss when I think back to those days; but ten years later, I feel pain and loss now, too.  Bin Laden sought to divide and bankrupt this nation, and now thanks to the Tea Party we are closer than ever to that very thing happening.  I mourn the loss of what we could have been, what we should have become after 9/11.  It breaks my heart and it fills me with dread.  Once you were a terrorist if you suggested taking up arms against the government of the United States; now advocating the very things bin Laden did makes you a tea-party patriot.  I fear for my nation more deeply than I did then, since I fear treason more than any foreign enemy.  And I weep when I see how simple logical thought has died, how people can advocate treason and be thought patriots, can embrace the philosophies of atheists like Ayn Rand and be called Christians, or can drop out of college, mock Nobel Prize winning scientists and economists, and be thought wise and responsible.  Patriotism is dying, my country is bleeding out its life’s blood, and even the words that could cry alarm or give aid are turned inside-out and upside-down.  It’s as if our whole nation has aphasia, so no matter what anyone says at this point it won’t matter.  I wonder if this is the way Babel fell (Gen. 11:6-7)?

Well, what can I say?  I am worried for my country, and for the world, and for my Christian faith, all of which are perverted and imperiled by the elevation of selfishness and cowardliness and sloth to supreme virtues, while altruism and courage and the urge to do great things are mocked by the very people who claim to be “patriots” and to speak to and for God.  The Hell-spawn who dreamed up the 9/11 attacks must be delighted to see their plan at long last coming to fulfillment, thanks to those who claim to be the most fervent patriots and Christians.  Seriously, when Ayn Rand can say, “There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them;” and the Satanic Bible can say, “Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!” and no one sees the parallel, but Rand’s philosophy and language (like calling the poor “moochers and leeches”) is taken up by those who claim to be the true patriots and true Christians (though Christ called the poor children of God)——how can any thinking, feeling person not mourn and worry?  If even the leaders of the Religious Right, the most influential pastors and preachers, embrace Rand’s philosophy though it resembles nothing so much as Satanism, then we should all weep—-for our nation, for our faith, and for the loss of our minds.

[1] Lucky Severson, “Altruism,” Religion and Ethics Newsweekly; first aired March 24, 2006 ( episode 930; accessed September 7, 2011

[2] Calvin Woodward, “Post-9/11 ‘New Normal’ Looks Much Like Old;” Associated Press Sept. 5, 2011 (

[3] Sean Murphy and Tim Talley, “Oklahoma Tea Party Plans to Form Armed Militia,” The Huffington Post April 12, 2010 ( downloaded September 7, 2011

[4] Associated Press, “Gov. Rick Perry:  Texas Could Secede, Leave Union;”  The Huffington Post April 15, 2009 (

The Need for a Defense of Charity Act (pt. 1)

September 9, 2011

The Defense of Charity Act

            The Bible tells me all I need to know about what’s right and what’s wrong.  Some things are good, and God promises to bless the nation that does them.  And some things are wrong, and the Bible says that the nation that does them will be punished.  If we allow sin and abomination to rule our land, we will be smote like the wicked city of Sodom (Ez 16:49).  And what was the sin of Sodom?  “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

How are we to defend our nation, our Christian faith and our very souls from the corrupting influence of these Sodomites and their abominations?  There is only one answer:  we must have a Defense of Charity Act, or DOCA.  As a first step, it can be implemented as a federal law; but if states should try to introduce greed, selfishness, and oppression into our nation by passing state laws that limit aid to the poor, we should force Congress to implement a Constitutional amendment to defend charity.  Now, I know that there are many people in this secular, post-modern society who will fight this tooth and nail.  They will say everyone should just be free to do whatever he or she wants, regardless of the corrupting effects on society.  Many of them follow secular, atheist, foreign philosophers, like the Russian Ayn Rand, who say that selfishness is good and charity is evil and individuals should do whatever they want with their bodies or their money or anything else.  “What business is it of yours how I live my life?  If you want to live in a primitive Christian way and give generously to the poor, that’s your right; go ahead and do it.  But why impose your Christian values on us? We’re not hurting you!”

In fact, though, these Ayn Rand sodomites are trying to impose their secular agenda on the nation, and all of us are suffering as a result.  There are at least three distinct ways in which they are harming the moral majority of Americans:  by changing the meaning of charity, generosity and other essential Christian words, by imposing their perverted values on the rest of us, and by undermining the Christian nature of this nation and bringing God’s wrath down on us.

The Need for a Defense of Charity Act (pt. 2)

September 9, 2011

Changing the meaning of the word “charity:”  I need not look any further than Ayn Rand’s own words:

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.[1]

These words from a (probably the) most important political theorist for the so-called conservative movement show us immediately not only how opposed this philosophy is to our Christian heritage, but more importantly how this secular philosophy seeks to change the meaning of my relationship with my neighbor.  The Bible tells us clearly that charity is absolutely the most important thing.  Consider Matt 5:43-48, where Jesus tells us to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect;”  love your enemies, do good to everyone, and don’t ask who is “worthy of the help.”  It’s no wonder Rand despised religion!  Her conservative values and the political movement they inspire today are the very opposite of our Christian heritage.  Jesus describes the kingdom of Heaven as a great wedding banquet where everyone is invited (Luke 14:12-24); but today some people want to make it some sort of tea party where only the right sort of people are allowed, the ones who can help you socially and invite you to parties of their own.  The generosity that the Bible says is the most important thing in the world, today’s modern Sodomites want to say is “a marginal issue”!  (Compare James 1:27)

When the Randian sodomites change the meaning of the word “charity,” they change the meaning of my charity.  Charity is supposed to be a marriage of opposites:  rich and poor.  It is not a purely arbitrary arrangement between two people who are basically the same for their own pleasure and convenience; it is based on the differences between them.  The rich are to provide the capital that is the seed of industry; the poor provide the labor, and together they give birth to wealth (perhaps that’s why they call it “labor”).  Without the poor to do the work, there is no wealth and hence no wealthy persons; without the wealthy to hire and pay and invest and develop, there is no work to do, or only the barest of subsistence hunting and gathering.  The economic sodomites claim that the poor are waging class warfare and that they will destroy the rich; but historically we can see that generally it goes the other way around.  This is also what Scripture teaches:

In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.  For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord. (Ps. 10:2-3)

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.  May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.  May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.  May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor…..  For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.  (Ps. 72:  1-4, 12-14)

The field of the poor may yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice. (Prov. 13:23)

But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?  (James 2:6-7)

The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. (Isa 3:14-15)

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?  (Isa 58:6-7)

Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—  they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned;  they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.  (Amos 2:6-8)

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts  (James 5:4)

So it is clear from the Word of God that the poor need far more protection from the injustice of the rich, than do the rich from the poor.  There are many passages that speak of the oppression of the poor by the rich, or the wise by fools, or the poor wise man by the rich fool; there is almost nothing of what we hear so much of today, about how the rich are being robbed and oppressed and enslaved by the poor.  In fact, given what the clear Word of God tells us in loud cries and thunderings, we should probably be asking if God hates the rich!  But a closer examination reveals that this too is mistaken.  After all, God blessed Solomon with wealth as well as wisdom.  Wealth is said to come from God, and sometimes poverty is said to come from sloth or dishonesty.  It is clear that the Bible assumes that there will always be economic disparities.  What God demands is that we treat these disparities as opportunities to serve one another, not as excuses to condemn.  Christ said that whatever we do to the least of our neighbors, we do to Him; so the one who serves the poor serves Christ (see Matt. 25:31-46).  At the same time, when the rich one shares with the poor, that rich one does the work of Christ on Earth.  So in the giving and the receiving, each finds Christ in the other.  And in giving with humble generosity and thanking with humble gratitude, each finds God personally.[2]

The Rand-postmodern individualist agenda turns the marriage between rich and poor, ordained by God to be an equalizing relationship bringing the different sides together, into a matter of personal comfort and convenience only.  The relationship that should have been the foundation of society becomes just an idle fancy, and matter of personal individual rights rather than social responsibility—as Rand said herself, and as the conservative Sodomites who follow her in worshipping the calf of gold continue to say.  The entire meaning of “charity,” and “generosity” and “almsgiving” and every other related concept is completely turned upside down.  These people should not be allowed to take the sacred bond of charity from us and turn it into an excuse for individual self-indulgence.  This is one reason why it is so important to have a Defense of Charity Act.

[1] Ayn Rand, interview with Alvin Toffler, Playboy 1964 ( accessed September 3, 2011.

[2] Søren Kierkegaard, “Every Good Gift and Every Perfect Gift is From Above,” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, with introduction and notes (Princeton NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1990) pp. 152-153

The Need for the Defense of Charity Act (pt. 3)

September 9, 2011

Imposing their values on the rest of us:  As we have seen, the Bible teaches that wealth comes from God.  God makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, all and everyone. As the apostle James writes:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.  Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.  (James 4:13-17)

Therefore, God has every right to demand that we share that wealth, and both rich and poor benefit when God’s will is done.   It comes from God, it belongs to God while we have use of it, and all we have and are will return to God.  But that is not what Ayn Rand and her followers teach.  In June of 2011, they came into a Christian school under the name of “The 9/12 Project,” and set up a summer camp for children—-and in a Christian school!—-where they taught children that “”I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to.”[1]  We know from Scripture that God calls this the sin of Sodom (see Isa. 1:10-17), but here they are, teaching the sin of Sodom to the children of Christian parents in a Christian school.  And now they have continued, opening up schools for blasphemy in two churches in Tampa alone.[2]  If they want to practice their sodomy among themselves, that’s one thing; but their agenda is to recruit our children, and they don’t even try to hide it!  And to do this, they are imposing their perverse values even in our churches.  They claim they are fighting government attempts to force them to be charitable; but really, it is they who are trying to force selfishness, greed, injustice and all the sins the prophets warned against on the rest of the nation, by perverting our laws and our churches alike.

This will bring God’s wrath down on America:  Do we want to be destroyed as was Sodom (Isa 1:9)?  The prophets of the LORD call to us with loud voices, or rather with one voice, the voice of God:  The nation that does injustice, that oppresses the poor, that piles up wealth while the weak go hungry, that nation will be destroyed (Isa. 1:23-24).  Ayn Rand’s disciples teach that “Government cannot force me to be charitable;” but it is in fact God that demands it.[3]  This is a Christian nation; why does a minority that follows the teachings of a godless Russian philosopher get to impose its will on us, and bring down all the disasters of God’s wrath?  Shouldn’t our laws reflect our Christian heritage?  Of course they should!   We Christians have fought and continue to fight to make sure that Christian teachings rule here, whether it be that marriage is between one man and one woman, or that life begins at conception, or that murderers should be executed by the state; how can we not also insist that God’s will be done in something that matters so much less, in money?  And yet, while money may mean so little, charity to the poor matters so much.  The Law demands that those who have give some of what they have to those who have not (Lev. 19:10, 23:22; see also Ex. 23:11, Deut. 24:19-22).  It does not say “make the rich poor too;” rather, it demands only that those who have leave what is basically their spare change, the leftovers from their fields, which they can do without but which the poor desperately need.  The Law of Moses also states that the rich shall not charge interest on loans to the poor (Ex. 22:25; see also Deut. 24:12).  And in Lev. 14:21, God lays down the rule that while the rich must pay tithes, the poor are to pay less.  Since at this time the priests ruled the land, those tithes were taxes on the people; and the taxes were higher or lower based on what an individual could afford.  So obviously, it is God’s will that the laws protect the weak, feed the hungry, cloth the naked (again, read the passage about returning a debtor’s cloak), and taxes and tithes are due according to what one can pay.  The government not only has a right to demand charity; it has a duty to do so, a duty to God, and if it fails in that duty it will be swept away like the rebellious rich of Samaria and Jerusalem.

So, to protect the nation from God’s just punishment, to prevent Randites from imposing their values and agenda on the rest of us, and to keep them from changing the meaning of Christian charity into something it is not, I call on our government to pass the Defense of Charity Act.  DOCA is the only thing that can stem the tide of ungodliness that has swept through our politics and our churches.  It is the only thing that can restrain the libertine individualism that threatens to destroy the social fabric of our nation.  And it is the only thing that can heal the breach between the super rich and the vast majority of the country, restoring us to the sort of patriotic community that our Founding Fathers hoped for and God requires.

[1] Marlene Sokol, “Tea Party Group Offers Summer Camp;” June 14, 2011, St. Petersburg Times (; accessed Sept. 5, 2011

[2] Marlene Sokol, “Tea Party Organization Will Offer More Classes for Children;” August 31, 2011, St. Petersburg Times ( accessed Sept. 5, 2011

[3] “Tea Party Group Offers Summer Camp”

Obituary: The Death of the Spirit of 9/12

August 29, 2011

Obituary:  The Death of the Spirit of 9/12

            The Spirit of 9/12 passed away on August 2, 2011, just shy of her tenth birthday.  Witnesses report she collapsed and died on Capitol Hill after choking on a toxic cloud of partisanship, to which she was known to have had a severe allergy. Known most recently as the face for a vast marketing campaign selling 9/12 Project merchandise, gold, survival bunkers and lapel pins, her early career was actually very different.

The Spirit of 9/12 was born, in fact, on September 11, 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the infamous terrorist attacks.  People of all walks of life spontaneously looked for ways to help one another:  at first by actually driving to the site of the attacks to help in the rescue efforts or to support the first responders, later by donating money, blood, volunteering for military service, or by coming together in prayer and mourning to comfort one another.  One of her most significant early acts is perhaps the best illustration of her true character and mission.  On September 14, 2001, Rev. Jerry Falwell appeared on that day’s broadcast of Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Club” and directly blamed feminists, atheists, gays, and all liberals for being complicit in the terrorist attacks that had killed thousands of Americans.  In this, he was not really saying anything new; he and millions of his followers had long claimed that anyone who disagreed with them on matters religious, moral or even merely political was an enemy both of God and of the United States.  This rhetoric was common in the political campaign that had led to the victory of George W. Bush, and in countless political campaigns before.  What was new was that this time, millions of people were shocked and outraged.  Within hours, Falwell apologized.  (This incident is so little remembered or regarded today, but is fully documented in news accounts of the time, such as:

The Spirit of 9/12 was the spirit of e pluribus unum: “From Many, One.”  While the deeds of September 14 may have been the Spirit of 9/12’s most powerful, her words of September 20 were doubtless her most stirring.  As a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, she helped prepare his address to a joint session of Congress that witnessed to the unity not only of our nation, but of the civilized world.  As Bush said, “We’ve seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers — in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of strangers their own. My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union — and it is strong.”  That speech went on further to recall the tears and the words of support coming to America from all around the world—-London, Berlin, Seoul, Cairo, from every continent.  The speech recalled how the blood of foreigners mingled with ours on 9/11, making us truly and painfully one.  It even reached out to the Afghan nation, reminding them that the U.S. was the single largest contributor of humanitarian aid before the attacks and assuring the nation that even now, if it joined the rest of the world in seeking to bring the murderers to justice, it would be welcomed in the world family.   The speech was a celebration and an exhortation, both of patriotic unity and international community.  (For a full transcript, see here:

However, shortly after what may have been the high point of her career, the Spirit of 9/12 became embroiled in a long trademark dispute with Culture War, Inc. which resented the use of “Patriotism” by any entity but its own subsidiaries:  Narcissism, Partisanship and Self-Righteousness.  While the Spirit inspired people to dedicate themselves self-sacrificially to their nation, Culture War Inc. told them that the best way to help their country was to buy things and take a tax cut.  While the Spirit inspired people to look for ways to understand others, promoting interfaith study groups and so on, Self-Righteousness sought to prove that “those people” were the cause of all the terrorism in the world. Timothy McVeigh, the Olympic Park Bomber, the KKK, and others were all forgotten in the rush to proclaim Islam the sole religion capable of producing monsters.  And while the Spirit of 9/12 inspired a patriotism that transcended party loyalties, Culture War Inc. relied on a monopoly of patriotism by only one political party.  It soon became clear that while the Spirit of 9/12 had a clearer original claim to patriotism (which is, by definition, love of one’s country, not love of party or even faith—those are separate things), Culture War Inc. had a much superior business model.  Eventually, the Spirit of 9/12 lost the struggle for access to the word  “patriotism” and with that she was ideologically bankrupted.  In the end, she was forced to work for the very group that had so consistently and vigorously opposed her, licensing her name to a merchandising campaign known as the “9/12 Project.”

Today, a spirit that was known for promoting self-sacrifice, unity, mutual understanding and the old idea of “E Pluribus Unum” is now known primarily for its association with the culture warriors.  In all, therefore, we have to admit that her legacy is mixed.  Partisanship, self-righteousness and national division are stronger now than they were before she began her campaign against them, and often the Spirit of 9/12 is cited in support of these very forces.  Her estate will continue to be administered by Culture War Inc. until an heir by familial connection is found.  No public memorial services are planned at this time.  In lieu of flowers or condolences, the Spirit of 9/12’s last wish was that well-wishers should devote themselves to their nation and to their neighbors.