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10 years ago: My generation’s bloody wake-up call

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 10, 2011 10:07 PM

This is the column I filed 10 years ago on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Below it, I’ve included the 2004 Republican National Convention remarks of the late actor Ron Silver — a Hollywood liberal turned Hollywood hawk who died too soon. Before he passed in 2009, he delivered powerful speeches on his post-9/11 awakening that resonate today. Silver spoke for me:

“I think there are September 10 people and there are September 11 people. I’m one of the latter. Everything changed for me. Since then I see everything through the prism of what happened that day.”

***

My generation’s bloody wake-up call
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2011

September 11, 2001, 10:30 am EST. This day’s infamy is only just beginning to dawn as chaos fills the television screen, tears fill my eyes, and terror presses up into my throat. Both towers of the World Trade Center have collapsed completely. This is not a David Copperfield, made-for-TV magic trick. They’re gone forever — two steel-girded limbs brutally amputated from the New York City skyline by evil fanatics whom President Bush nervously referred to as “folks.”

“Folks” are my family and neighbors. Those who orchestrated this bloody attack are not “folks.” They are madmen. Monsters. Mass murderers. The president looked and sounded scared. And that scares me.

The phone pierces my solitary angst. From his office tower in Gaithersburg, Md., my husband says that he can see smoke clouds from the Pentagon where a plane has reportedly crashed. A friend who works for the Defense Department calls to say he’s okay.

He is mournful: “We let America down.” All the rest of us can do now is pray and wonder and wait.

And watch.

“It’s like a movie. It’s like it’s not really happening.” That’s the shell-shocked refrain I hear over and over again from young eyewitnesses on TV. As their panicked voices melt in the background, this tragedy brings one truth into sharp focus: Mine is a pampered generation that has spent its collective life with its feet on the coffee table, its ample rear end planted into the living room sofa, and its jaded fingers on a remote control.

From the “Real World” and “Survivor,” to “Boot Camp” and “The Fear Factor,” what we know of conflict and survival and fear comes from the mind of cynical producers. From “Platoon” to “Saving Private Ryan” to “Pearl Harbor,” what we know of pain and sacrifice and the terror of war comes from a Blockbuster rental store. We have a Wag the Dog cynicism about the military, and a shameful indifference toward the veterans who secured the peace and prosperity we have so selfishly enjoyed.

Before this day, we occupied our time manufacturing acts of self-victimization, squandering precious time, and feeling sorry for our poor young selves. In the headlines: news of young people committing hate crimes against themselves in a bid for attention and sympathy. On campus: new classes teaching porn while basic world history courses are dropped. And on the bestseller list:

“Quarterlife Crisis,” a book written by two spoiled twentysomethings bemoaning the “landmine period in our adult development” during the transition from college graduation into the “real world.”

“When young adults emerge at graduation from almost two decades of schooling, during which each step to take is clearly marked,” the book’s publisher explains, “they encounter an overwhelming number of choices regarding their careers, finances, homes, and social networks.” There are even seminars and support groups for these traumatized young people. “Confronted by an often shattering whirlwind of new responsibilities, new liberties, and new options, they feel helpless, panicked, indecisive, and apprehensive.”

A generation that feels “helpless, panicked, indecisive, and apprehensive” because it has too many liberties and options is a generation in need of a real crisis. Now we have one. Yesterday was our Pearl Harbor. Our generational wake-up call. Our bloody moment of shattered self-complacency.

It’s time to grow up, get real, and finally grasp, like generations before us, that freedom is not free.

***

Remarks by Ron Silver as Prepared for Delivery at the 2004 Republican National Convention on Monday, August 30, Evening Session 7:45 – 11:15 P.M. EDT

I want to thank the President and the Republican Party for holding this event in my hometown, my father’s hometown, my grandfather’s and great grandfather’s birthplace.

Just over 1,000 days ago, 2,605 of my neighbors were murdered at the World Trade Center — men, women and children — as they began their day on a brilliantly clear New York autumn morning, less than four miles from where I am now standing.

We will never forgive. Never forget. Never excuse!

At the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander of the South Pacific, said:

“It is my earnest hope – indeed the hope of all mankind – that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world found upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice.”

The hope he expressed then remains relevant today.

We are again engaged in a war that will define the future of humankind.

Responding to attacks on our soil, America has led a coalition of countries
against extremists who want to destroy our way of life and our values.

This is a war we did not seek.

This is a war waged against us.

This is a war to which we had to respond.

History shows that we are not imperialists . . .but we are fighters for freedom and democracy.

Even though I am a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today, I find it ironic that many human rights advocates and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they
catalogue repeatedly.

Under the unwavering leadership of President Bush, the cause of freedom and democracy is being advanced by the courageous men and women serving in our Armed Services.

The President is doing exactly the right thing.

That is why we need this President at this time!

I am grateful for the chance to speak tonight to express my support for our Commander-in-Chief, for our brave troops, and for the vital cause which they have undertaken.

General Dwight Eisenhower’s statement of 60 years ago is true today . . .

“United in this determination and with unshakable faith in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God’s help, go forward to our greatest victory.”

Thank you.

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