Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 lesson? Don't squander goodwill

I was working a block from the White House that clear Tuesday morning, with weather almost identical to today's (at least in the Boston-Washington corridor). What most amazed me was the unexpected sympathy from every corner of the globe.

Not since John F. Kennedy's assassination had the world been with us. For a moment we Americans stopped being to other peoples brash and uncouth, exploitative and money-grubbing, violent and warmongering or, to borrow a Maoism, "running dogs of capitalism."

They saw us as just human beings in the United States.

Canadians, particularly English Canadians who can't shuck off the fact that they're really just like us as much as they hate that, and Mexicans, of whom Carlos Fuentes said are too far from God and too close to the United States, had nice things to say about us.

People from every corner expressed sympathy for the tragedy, for the people  undeserving of such deaths.

We had a president I had not voted for who could have transformed this moment into a giant turnaround in the world. Instead, he called for a "crusade" (Dubya, you do know that the medieval crusaders lost, right?), and the rest is history.

History as usual. Dreary, jingoistic bluster. Bush went all-out to prove the American-haters overseas right.

Just when almost all the world was with us. Let's never do that again.
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