The Echo Chamber
Saturday, September 07, 2002
  12:35 AM

Pulitzer Prize winning author Norman Mailer has apparently gotten too old to effectively hide his hatred for America. Drudge reported today that Mailer is publishing an incredibly anti-American rant that will appear in this weekend's London SUNDAY TIMES [9/8/02].

Mailer actually warmed-up for this Sunday's article a few months back in an interview he gave for BBC’s Newsnight program.

Below I’ve quoted Mailer from his BBC interview. These Mailer quotes have been placed in italics. I have President Bush “respond” with quotes from his January 29, 2002 State of the Union Address. Mr. Bush’s quotes are in bold.

You see, [America’s] become a money culture, "I live for my life," they say, everyone says. And in effect, they are very practical, so far as life goes, and have absolutely no concept that's at all enriching about death. On the other hand, you have Islam, which says this world is a total bloody mess, most of us are poor. Those who are rich at the top are awful and corrupt. We have this abominable life, but we have heaven if we live, and die, especially, for Allah.

I've been humbled and privileged to see the true character of this country in a time of testing. Our enemies believed America was weak and materialistic, that we would splinter in fear and selfishness. They were as wrong as they are evil….

All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want their children to be educated, and live free from poverty and violence. No people on Earth yearn to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude, or eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police.

If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic "street" greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning, and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere.

What are we unifying against? That's what makes me nervous. In the Second World War, all right the country unified against Hitler. That was not only a man and a set of ideas. It was also a country, a set of countries. It was a huge, definable war. This one is, on the one hand, we have our enormous military forces, very skilful indeed, who wipe out the Taliban, to everyone's huge surprise, it didn't take long, and who are we fighting? On the other hand, there's the sense that this could go on, and take on huge proportions, because Islam is virtually half of the world by now, in terms of religious forces.

The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated…

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.

[Bush] can't make a speech without using the word "evil" 13 or 15 or 22 times…

[America will probably not receive a wake-up call about how others in the world view America] so long as they keep saying, "Evil, evil, evil". That is opposed to a wake-up call, that's an anodyne. It's to soothe feelings here… [I]f you are half evil, nothing soothes you more than to think that the person you are opposed to is totally evil. If the person you are opposed to is half evil also, as indeed I am sure they are, then what you have is the old human mix, which is full of complication.

Those of us who have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them. We've come to know truths that we will never question: evil is real, and it must be opposed. Beyond all differences of race or creed, we are one country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American character, there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism. And many have discovered again that even in tragedy -- especially in tragedy -- God is near…

In a single instant, we realized that this will be a decisive decade in the history of liberty, that we've been called to a unique role in human events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential.

Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.
Pop quiz: Who is smarter, Mailer or Bush? Mailer thinks he knows:
"Clinton made a point of surrounding himself with people who might be 90% as intelligent as himself, but never his equal. Bush is smart enough to know that he couldn't possibly do the same, or the country would be run by morons."
Of course he also made this "brilliant" commentary:
3000 deaths in the Twin Towers came approximately to one mortality for every 90,000 Americans. Your chances of dying if you drive a car are one in 7,000 each year. We seem perfectly ready to put up with automobile statistics. I fear I am ready to say there is a tolerable level to terror...
I wonder if Mailer is the person for whom the term "pseudointellectual" was coined.

Friday, September 06, 2002
  7:05 PM

President George W. Bush called European leaders from the Oval Office, Friday morning, September 6, 2002.
Should I say this, or just think it?
"Iraq? Stay put — we don't necessarily need or desire your help. The Middle East? Shame on you, not us, for financing the terrorists on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and Israel? You helped to fund a terrorist clique; we, a democracy — go figure. Racism? Arabs are safer in America than Jews are in Europe. That 200,000 were butchered in Bosnia and Kosovo a few hours from Rome and Berlin is a stain on you, the inactive, not us, the interventionist. Capital punishment? Our government has executed terrorists; yours have freed them. Do the moral calculus."
-Victor Davis Hanson via Andrew Sullivan.


Thursday, September 05, 2002
  11:13 AM

This is a link to a USA Today article about those who were forced to jump from the towers on September 11.

It will make you mad. It made me physically sick to read it. Nevertheless, it must be read. This must not be forgotten.

Cheers to USA Today for having the courage to print this article. I found the link at Little Green Footballs. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
  5:19 PM

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times said that September 11 was not a failure of intelligence, but a failure of imagination. The intelligence community had apparently never given much thought about an airliner as a WMD.

The September 11 terrorists took our technology, and used it to their own lethal ends. These guys are willing to think nontraditionally. To defend against them we should do the same.

So what other readily accessible technology do we have that could be used to kill us?

Before September 11, Robert Write speculated that terrorists could use model airplanes as a poor-man’s cruise missile.

Already, hobbyists have used a GPS device to guide a commercially available, model-type airplane—weighing 29 pounds, with a 9-foot wingspan—across the Atlantic Ocean.

We are talking about a cheap off-the-shelf intercontinental missile that could realistically be loaded with explosives or even biological, chemical, or radiological (i.e. "dirty bomb") material.

Of course, terrorists wouldn’t have to launch such a missile from Europe or Africa. If such a weapon was going to be used, it would probably be launched within a few miles of the target. The GPS might be helpful, but why stop there? You know those spycams that are apparently being marketed to dirty old men via popup ads? One of those plus a transmitter could be used to obtain Gulf War level accuracy.

Before you scoff, take a look at this video I found here. That's not your father's RC Airplane.

Such a weapon would be hard to track, hard to defend against, relatively inexpensive, and it wouldn’t require suicide. The most obvious way to protect against such an attack would, unfortunately, be to monitor and restrict the model aircraft hobby.


Tuesday, September 03, 2002
  5:46 PM

The media is entering an anniversary frenzy as we approach September 11th. My local National Public Radio station is promoting their day of “healing and remembrance” by asking for listeners to give their ideas of how best to mark this day.

I almost feel sorry for the executives that are responsible for this anniversary programming. Anything that is done will be subject to intense scrutiny. But hey, that’s why they are paid the big bucks, right? From what I’ve seen so far, this day is going to degenerate into a “let's feel our pain” sap-fest.

“Healing” and “closure” are entirely inappropriate concepts for this day. I don’t need to “heal.” I didn’t lose a member of my family. I don’t even have a friend of a friend that was killed. I was not personally traumatized. This does not mean I’m not sympathetic. I hate what happened. I’m angered by what happened. But I don’t need to “move past” this.

It would belittle and mock the actual pain of those who lost loved ones for me to act as if I was personally wounded by the events of September 11th. But I fear we are going to get stricken-faced commentary all day September 11th as Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings compete for the best trite summations of this “national tragedy.”

A tragedy is a terrible occurrence that must be endured, mourned over, and then gotten over. So this is not a "national tragedy." This is a personal tragedy for about 30,000 loved-ones of those who died. For the nation, it was the beginning of a war.

I went to New York this year for the first time in my life. I saw ground zero, I saw the damaged lobby sculpture that is now in Battery Park. I even briefly saw a ferry-load of some of the families of those killed taking a specially chartered ride out to the Statute of Liberty. But I didn’t go to New York to stand over ground zero with a quivering lip mourning any loss of my own. I didn’t go to see that sculpture or the make-shift memorials, and I certainly didn’t go to gawk at those families.

I went in part to defy the bastards who did this. My wife and I got on an airplane and flew to New York and just enjoyed the city. I might have spent 45 minutes around ground-zero. The rest of the time I was absorbing the incomparable experience that is New York City – Time Square, Central Park, The Museum of Natural History, The Empire State Building, The Upper West Side, Museum Mile, Little India, Little China. My wife and I walked until our initial blisters were gone and replaced by new blisters. And we had the time of our lives.

So how should we mark this anniversary? We should go about our lives and enjoy our freedom. We should express support for our military and our leaders as they prosecute the war. We should be sympathetic to those who lost someone. We should lampoon commentators who wallow in false grief for the sake of ratings. And we should simply remember. If we forget the image of the airplane hitting the tower, or people choosing to jump rather than burn, or the towers falling, then we might forget why our country must persevere in what will be a long and costly war.

It would be so nice to forget wouldn’t it? How seductive is the thought of putting this behind us. We would achieve “closure.” But the terrorists aren't seeking closure. If we stop our pursuit of terrorists, they will regroup and rearm. They will be emboldened in their fight against a short-sighted enemy. Forgetting would ensure another September 11. 

  1:50 PM

Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web Today" feature is back today. 

Monday, September 02, 2002
  10:37 AM

Well we learn today that Chatty, the man who attempted to hijack the jet in Sweden, was mentored by a Bin Laden hit man while in jail in Stockholm.

I wonder where those Muslims suspected of traveling with Chatty have gotten off to? 

  7:24 AM

If you haven’t already done so, rent the movie “Amelie.” This one is definitely a “chick-flick,” so guys, you’ll want to watch it with your girl (you'll get points for suggesting it). I normally avoid sub-titled movies on the theory that most foreign films are too nihilistic or just too weird to be worth the effort. If I want to read I’ll grab a book, not a DVD.

But Amelie is an exception. Amelie is funny, charming, and life-affirming. And its French! Who knew?

Sunday, September 01, 2002
  9:57 AM

To win this war we are going to have to spy on our own "allies."

Yesterday I mentioned the report that the U.K. is withholding information. Today I was reminded that Germany is withholding evidence of Zacarias Moussaoui’s involvement with a terrorist cell in Hamburg, Germany. Why? Because the information could be used to secure a death sentence. Isn't this just a tad self-righteous from the country that brought us two world wars and the holocaust?

And, on Thursday, a Muslim named Kerim Chatty was arrested by Swedish authorities for trying to carry a gun on a flight. An unconfirmed report states that Chatty, who has had flight training in the U.S., intended to hijack the plane and crash into a U.S. Embassy. Other Muslims that Swedish authorities thought might be traveling with Chatty were questioned and then released. Are these guys aware there's a war on? When asked Saturday by Fox News about the incident, an FBI spokesman claimed ignorance of the event. 

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