"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Need for Moral Courage (ABC's Path to 9/11, Part 2)

Part 2 of the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, which aired last night, was, if anything, more critical of the Bush administration's obliviousness to the threat of al Quaeda than it was of the Clinton admin. Yet I hear no complaints about it, nor any threats of censorship.

The film's critique of the Bush administration is basically that it didn't get up to speed quickly enough (which is rather to be expected when the enormous White House bureaucracy switches parties) and was too devoted to political correctness prior to 9/11.

Regarding the former, then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice comes off as manipulative and unprepared to run a big office. That may be true or it may not be, but it certainly does not suggest that she is responsible for 9/11. Hence: no harm, no foul.

Regarding the Bush administration's continuation of the previous team's concern for political correctness, throughout the narrative leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, a concern over "racial profiling" prevents the nation's defense and policing agencies from picking up and holding obvious terrorists. This was a huge error, of course, and was something many people had warned was posing a serious danger. Now we know.

In a very revealing scene in episode 2, a terrorist who has been taken in for questioning insists that the agency release him, stating, "I have rights!" The agents accept this and ultimately release him. This was a disastrous policy.

Fortunately, the notion that aliens have the same constitutional rights as citizens has been set aside, as it should, in the years since 9/11. I recommended this less than a week after that day, in fact.

The lesson to learn from this aspect of the 9/11 story is clear:

People without moral courage hate to make distinctions.

The making of distinctions is central to human reason and is a good thing that should never be suppressed. In real life, relativism is not an option. And, based as it is on relativism, hard multiculturalism is not an option.

An alien is a person of different status from a citizen, and that is a distinction that society must accept. Certainly vistors to our country should not be mistreated, but holding an obvious terrorist in custody for more than 24 hours is not an atrocity; it is simple common sense.

The other impression one gets from last night's episode is that the sub-agencies of the Bush administration had more than enough information to suspect that the 9/11 attacks were coming and could have prevented it by grounding all air traffic on that day. That appears to be more than a bit of a stretch, but it makes for compelling TV drama and fulfills the central purpose of a docudrama. That is, as I mentioned yesterday, "to tell a whacking good story through the use of historical events" and thereby afford us insights into human nature and the world around us, in addition to helping us understand the issues surrounding the matter at hand.

The big lesson to learn from The Path to 9/11 and the real life events that inspired it is the need for moral courage. A people without it is a people doomed to destruction.

From Karnick on Culture.

3 comments:

ELC said...

"The making of distinctions is central to human reason and is a good thing that should never be suppressed."

Belloc's Dictum: Intelligence may be measured by the capacity of separating categories.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Very nice, STK. Please forgive me if I comment on your entire string of posts on this:

First, I'll hold to the proposition that we should wait until somebody's dead to slander them, or in the case of Mr. and Ms. Berger and Albright, attribute heinous actions to them of which they are innocent in service of docudrama storytelling shorthand.

I believe this might reconcile with both your and Akaky's citation of the poetic license Shakespeare takes in his historically-based works.


That said, and I tuned into The Path to 9/11 only for its last two hours, it was far more artistic and poetic than I expected: your endorsement of it was quite proper, and its importance would be missed by anyone who had not seen it and regarded it only in the abstract, based on the media hubbub and subsequent bloggishness.

I almost missed it completely.

I think I tuned into it at all because you yourself had written about it, and you were right. If you want to feel what 9/11 was all about, not just from our viewpoint, but our murderers' as well, The Path to 9/11 will show you the way. The details are secondary.

It was a worthy effort.

S. T. Karnick said...

Thanks, Tom. Whenever a subject gets politicized, all other considerations are ignored, and reason quickly flies out the window. And nowadays everything seems to get politicized almost immediately.