A very good commentary about moving from being 9/11 people to 9/12 people.
By Op-Ed Columnist THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Click here: 9/11 Is Over
New York Times, September 30, 2007
September 30, 2007
9/11 Is Over
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a fake news story that began like this:
â€œAt a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. â€˜My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,â€™ said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. â€˜As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.â€™ If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the worldâ€™s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.â€
Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true â€” how much, since 9/11, weâ€™ve become â€œThe United States of Fighting Terrorism.â€ Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but thereâ€™s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We donâ€™t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 â€” mine included â€” has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I donâ€™t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
Before 9/11, the world thought Americaâ€™s slogan was: â€œWhere anything is possible for anybody.â€ But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: â€œGive me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.â€
You may think GuantÃ¡namo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks itâ€™s a place we send visitors who donâ€™t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling GuantÃ¡namo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. GuantÃ¡namo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.
Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 â€” even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. â€œOnly the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in todayâ€™s world,â€ Mr. Dow said.
Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industryâ€™s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that â€œthe U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting Americaâ€™s image abroad.â€ Those who donâ€™t visit us, donâ€™t know us.
Iâ€™d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible â€” and we just canâ€™t keep chasing that rainbow this way.
Look at our infrastructure. Itâ€™s not just the bridge that fell in my hometown, Minneapolis. Fly from Zurichâ€™s ultramodern airport to La Guardiaâ€™s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. I still canâ€™t get uninterrupted cellphone service between my home in Bethesda and my office in D.C. But I recently bought a pocket cellphone at the Beijing airport and immediately called my wife in Bethesda â€” crystal clear.
I just attended the China clean car conference, where Chinese automakers were boasting that their 2008 cars will meet â€œEuro 4â€ â€” European Union â€” emissions standards. We used to be the gold standard. We arenâ€™t anymore. Last July, Microsoft, fed up with American restrictions on importing brain talent, opened its newest software development center in Vancouver. Thatâ€™s in Canada, folks. If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why canâ€™t America?
We canâ€™t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July â€” which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.