Thursday, September 05, 2002
Sept. 11 remembered: Columnist Mark Steyn has a great article in The Spectator today. There's only one minor mistake -- Anna Nicole Smith's show is on E! not MTV.
The best part:
When an opinion-former’s caught unawares, he retreats to his tropes, however lame, as Lahr did, and Pilger, Chomsky et al. But the clearest way to understand the meaning of the day is to look at those who were called upon to act rather than theorise. We now know that the fourth plane, United Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, was heading for the White House. Had they made it, it would have been the strike of the day. It might have killed the Vice-President and who knows who else, but, even if it hadn’t, think of the symbolism: the shattered façade, smoke billowing from a pile of rubble on Pennsylvania Avenue, just like the money shot in Independence Day. Those delirious Palestinians and Danes and Montrealers would have danced all night.
That they were denied their jubilation is because the dopey hijackers assigned by al-Qa’eda to Flight 93 were halfway across the continent before they made their move and started meandering back east. By the time the passengers began calling home on their cellphones, their families knew what had happened in New York. Unlike those on the earlier flights, the hostages on 93 understood they were aboard a flying bomb intended to kill thousands of their fellow citizens. They knew there would be no happy ending. So they gave us the next best thing, a hopeful ending. Todd Beamer couldn’t get through to anyone except a telephone company operator, Lisa Jefferson. She told him about the planes that had smashed into the World Trade Center. Mr Beamer said they had a plan to jump the guys and asked her if she would pray with him, so they recited the 23rd Psalm: ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me....’
Then he and the others rushed the hijackers. At 9.58 a.m., the plane crashed, not into the White House, but in some pasture outside Pittsburgh. As UPI’s James Robbins wrote, ‘The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.’
Exactly. The most significant development of 11 September is that it marks the day America began to fight back: 9/11 is not just Pearl Harbor but also the Doolittle Raid, all wrapped up in 90 minutes. No one will ever again hijack an American airliner with boxcutters, or, I’ll bet, with anything else — not because of predictably idiotic new Federal regulations, but because of the example of Todd Beamer’s ad hoc platoon. Faced with a novel and unprecedented form of terror, American technology (cellphones) combined with the oldest American virtue (self-reliance) to stop it cold in little more than an hour. The passengers of Flight 93 were the only victims who knew what the hijackers had in store for them, and so they rose up, and began the transformation of Osama into a has-bin Laden.
The rest of it's good too. Give it a look.