It was a beautiful, blue, Tuesday morning 19 years ago when Americans' view of ourselves and our nation changed irrevocably. We had considered ourselves primarily safe from foreign violence, our shores sovereign. That vision of security was interrupted fatally when planes hijacked by our enemies took down the World Trade Towers in New York City, ending thousands of lives.
Like so many tragedies in our past, this one will be relegated to the dust heaps of time, to memorials and remembrances, to symbols imbued with meaning. The deeply personal loss that still remains for those who lost family and friends that day remains, yet the national grief is of a different kind.
For those who share the ethos of the contemporary left, the attacks of 9/11 were a "wake-up call," a sound-off that showed how deeply America was hated around the world, and they used it as a cry for America to change her ways.
American values, customs, perspectives, history, art, governance, and attitudes were all called into question as those on the left declared us unworthy of considering ourselves the greatest nation on earth.
In the 20th century, many of us were raised to believe that our nation was the best one, that we were the most welcoming, the most free, the most at one with liberty, justice, all of it. But once the towers came down, we were faced with the brutal reality that lots of other people in the world didn't think of us this way.
And the left started to really take this to heart, they came to internalize the hatred so many in the world had for the US. What kind of hate, they thought, could be so brutal as to make people fly planes into skyscrapers, killing themselves, those on board, and those who were in the buildings on that fateful morning?
Though there was a great deal of patriotism in the days and weeks that followed, and we saw our first responders respected and lauded as was their due, the feelings of joy in the American ethos faded, and were replaced with a cynical self-hate.
This self-hate has consumed our culture so fully that, even today, looking back at that day, there are journalists on the left who proclaim that those haters of Americans and our nation were not the greatest threat to our sovereignty and security, but that it is the home-grown, radical right terrorists that seek to destroy us.
New York Times writer Paul Krugman is using the 19th anniversary of this terrible disaster to state his claim that the horrible acts that were perpetrated on us revealed the downsides of the US—as opposed to the downside of foreign terrorists.
Why are so many Americans sure that the hatred terrorists have for us was ever justified? Are they not capable of realizing that America is a worthwhile undertaking, a glorious and still unfolding experiment? Why is there so much certainty that the people who hate us, and hated us then, are right, and everything we stand for is wrong?
Sept. 11, 2001, woke Americans up to the reality that in many global sectors we are not well-liked. But instead of internalizing those criticisms, instead of wanting to please those who would harm us in hopes that they might not hit us again, we should realize that what we have to offer the world, and ourselves, is not to be winner of popularity contest.
America is not here to concede our values to the world, we are here to hold them up as an invitation to anyone who cherishes the right to exist according to their own dictates and on their own merits
As we move into the twentieth year since this attack on America, we would be well served to stop apologizing for who we are and what we stand for. We live in America—the freest and fairest nation in the history of human civilization. Now more than ever, we must stand up for her and the values she represents.