9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — 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 don’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 [presidential] 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 America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — Tom Friedman has what I would call a uniquely American affliction: pathological optimism. One can argue that life is sustained by irrational hope — there is after all no happy ending. But excessive hope makes it much harder to anticipate failure and thereby avoid mistakes.
Friedman’s little pep talk on bringing back the good ol’ new times will appeal to lots of Americans. To say that “9/11 made us stupid” is to imply that the last six years have been nothing more than an aberration; that they did not reveal anything about America’s character, its political culture or its relationship with the world. All we have to do is vote for the right candidate in November 2008. If only it was going to be that easy!