Bret Stephens: 9/11 and the Struggle for MeaningRoundup: Talking About History
Bret Stephens is the foreign-affairs columnist of the Wall Street Journal.
December 7, 1951, came and went with scant ceremony. Harry Truman spent the day vacationing in Key West. Alben Barkley gave a speech in Honolulu in which he defended the war in Korea. Time magazine skipped the Pearl Harbor anniversary altogether: Its cover story that week was a lengthy profile of DeWitt and Lila Wallace. The Daily Double goes to the reader who can identify Barkley or the Wallaces without first turning to Google.
Compare that to the wall-to-wall attention being given to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Leon Panetta will speak at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday. President Obama will speak there Sunday, after visits to the three memorial sites in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. The World Trade Center memorial plaza will open to the families of the victims. Smaller commemorations and remembrances will take place everywhere from Boston to Bagram.
And in the press, we will reprise the now-ritual debates over where-we-are-now, whither-are-we-going and what-it-all-means. Most everybody will have some sort of answer, and only the lowest common denominator of those answers will satisfy everybody.
All this is unavoidable and largely appropriate. But there is some irony in the fact that our frenzy to memorialize is inversely proportionate to our collective capacity to extract meaning from memory.
Consider the Trade Center's new memorial...
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Newly released interactive map shows images of destroyed monuments of Mosul
- How the Rise of the Post Office Explains American Innovation
- These Americans are reliving history and don’t mind repeating it
- Britain largest home is saved for the nation
- Shelter and the slums: capturing bleak Britain 50 years ago
- WSJ features an article by a conservative calling for the abolition of Black History Month
- Mary Beard, herself a bestselling author, wonders why more women historians aren't
- Princeton U. historian Imani Perry claims mistreatment in parking ticket arrest
- Retired historian George Dennison remains on the payroll at the U. of Montana while faculty are cut
- The Atlantic profiles exciting ways to teach history