Two Planes, Two Worlds

It's funny but even during the mayhem of Inauguration week, the image of that A320 being landed safely on the Hudson kept coming back to me. And when I read that its remains had ended up floating not far from Ground Zero, I couldn't help but marvel at the historical and civilizational symmetry of it all.

Over seven years ago, a group of religious extremists seized control of an aircraft in that same airspace, men who had very little flying experience and a philosophy of maximizing the deaths of innocent civilians on the ground. They did all they could to murder as many as they could in order to secure the maximum reward for themselves in heaven and in worldly renown.

Seven years later, two pilots who have since remained remarkably distant from media attention, were in a similar cockpit in the same crowded area and their over-riding concern was to prevent any civilian casualties at all. That's why they even avoided small airports which might have led to a crash into inhabited neighborhoods. With enormous expertise, gained by rigorous training in a civilized society, they managed to land safely on the river and save everyone both on board and on the ground.

It seems to me that dignity and training and expertise and humaneness are the values of our society at its best. All of them are self-evidently superior to the values of vainglory, amateurism, impulsiveness and cruelty that bedevil our enemies. If these are the grounds on which we fight this war - and they are ours to choose - then we will win. And we will deserve to.