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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


pining for 9-11?

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, August 14, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
today at RedState I saw this fairly odious piece of conservative conventional wisdom again rear its head: that Democrats actively desire failure in Iraq. I don't believe for a second that anyone in the political class, or the pundit class, genuinely believes or wants us as a nation to fail. It's a little thing called Benefit of the Doubt; in a civilized society with free speech and democratic process, its our responsibility to extend this basic courtesy to our opponents. The problem in modern discourse is that this basic civility has been sacrificed on the altar of immediate, short term political gain.

That benefit of the doubt is why I refuse to castigate Stu Bykofsky for his provocative column titled "To save America, we need another 9/11". His thesis is that

ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America.

What kind of a sick bastard would write such a thing?

A bastard so sick of how splintered we are politically - thanks mainly to our ineptitude in Iraq - that we have forgotten who the enemy is.

This is a provocative piece. Something for everyone, it seems, though curiously it's been embraced by conservatives and denounced by liberals (I'd have predicted the opposite, based on his analysis of the Iraq war as an unmitigated failure).

But I take substantive issue with his analysis on the merits. We are splintered politically, true - but that was long before Iraq and even before 9-11, and the reason, the sole reason, is because of that abandoned principle of benefit of the doubt. You can't just disagree anymore; you have to paint your opponent as the scum of the earth. That's the true way in which we have forgotten who our enemy is; but it long predates the true enemies we have today.

Would another 9-11 really help? Bykofsky argues,

It will take another attack on the homeland to quell the chattering of chipmunks and to restore America's righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail.

The unity brought by such an attack sadly won't last forever.

The first 9/11 proved that.

true, which is why another 9-11 will again serve as only a temporary distraction from the much more important pursuit of each other. If the result of 9-11, past or future, is a transient unity, then it comes at too high a price.

Still, Bykofsky dared to write something genuinely provocative about 9-11, that makes us really think. Or at least, pause for a moment.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.