The commemorative 9/11 section put together at The Street includes a telling capsule view of a different, perhaps complementary type of insecurity that has marked the last decade. In a few graphs, they chart ten years of economic volatility and soaring debts, not all attributable to the attacks and the wars that followed, but just as indelibly marking the current era of doubt and worry.
The anniversary is an occasion for reflection on the attackers, who Christopher Hitchens argues can - and must - be described as "evil," no filigrees of geopolitical context needed or wanted.
The proper task of the "public intellectual" might be conceived as the responsibility to introduce complexity into the argument: the reminder that things are very infrequently as simple as they can be made to seem. But what I learned in a highly indelible manner from the events and arguments of September 2001 was this: Never, ever ignore the obvious either. To the government and most of the people of the United States, it seemed that the country on 9/11 had been attacked in a particularly odious way (air piracy used to maximize civilian casualties) by a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death, a racist hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shia Muslims, and "unbelievers," and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire.
To me, this remains the main point about al-Qaida and its surrogates. I do not believe, by stipulating it as the main point, that I try to oversimplify matters. I feel no need to show off or to think of something novel to say.
In his introduction to The Atlantic's coverage of the anniversary, Jeffrey Goldberg declares that "murder is the meaning of 9/11." The essay, like Hitchens', is intended as a corrective against seeing those attacks, or those since by Al Qaeda and its associates, in a context of political debate. They are simply murderous, he says.
The debate is between those who argue that radical jihadists hate us for our freedoms and our modernity, and those who argue that they hate us for our policies. The answer, of course, is yes -- yes to both. But even this answer only scrapes at the truth, which is that it is hatred that precedes everything, the rationalizations and justifications and the elaborate scaffolding of ideology and theology al Qaeda erects around its sociopathic core.
From across the Atlantic, The Guardian glances askance at conspiracy theorists and their occasional success in sowing doubts about the true authors of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. "Not since President John F Kennedy was felled by bullets in Dallas nearly half a century ago have conspiracy theorists had so much to get their teeth into although, tellingly, a number of those who see a government plot on September 11 can also be found claiming that the Holocaust is a myth," Chris McGreal writes.