Roxanne has noticed that the people most terrorized by 9/11 were Right Wing bloggers, and one of the most terrified is James Lileks.
Today we examine the strange case of Mr. Lileks, a seemingly normal guy until 9/11. That's when, by all accounts, he lost the plot --along with Christopher Hitchens, Dennis Miller, and that 2nd rate spy novel writer guy who wears the weird hat, but who's name I can never remember.
Roger L. Simon, Rox. And he writes detective novels. Which are actually pretty good, and it's too bad he's doesn't stick to it and leave the fear-mongering, hating, and paranoid raving to the professionals at LGF and FreeRepublic.
It's come to Roxanne's attention that Lileks is starting a second blog, one devoted to fear-mongering, hating, and paranoid raving.
Mr. Lileks has seen fit to start a new virtual space in addition to his boorish Bleat, where he regularly waxes neurotic about being his child's primary caregiver, gays (in a very revealing me-thinks-he-doth-protest-too-much manner, if you ask me), and moving to the safety of the strip mall capital of the world --Arizona.
His new site is called ScreedBlog. There, it seems, he waxes neurotic about terrorizamenting, all while making an all-too-abundant use of Roget's Thesaurus and hat-tipping LGF.
I understand Lileks' decision. He's been doing the virtual equivalent of running into the kitchen to chat merrily on the phone with his mother while he stirs the soup on the stove and then in a sudden panic attack dropping everything and leaving the soup to burn while he flies to the bedroom, dives under the bed, and cowers there, jibbering, raving, cursing the fates, and praying to God to save his sorry, flat butt.
Readers find it distracting.
His more sensible fans, who enjoy, inexplicably, his maunderings on the joys of mall living get annoyed by the hiding under the bed stuff. His Right Wing fellow under the bed hiders can't fathom why he'd ever crawl out from under there with them.
With two blogs he can divide a personality that's already split three ways from Sunday, keep everybody happy, and not have to eat so much burned soup, and, yes, folks, I know how foolish I look making fun of Lileks for doing the back and forth between the dear diary stuff and the political rant and raves.
What I don't understand is why Lileks, Simon, and all the Right Wing hiders under the bed seem content to be so very afraid.
Yesterday I chaperoned the 9 year old's third grade class field trip to the American Museum of Natural History. A fun day, but more about that later. The driver of our bus turned out to have a second job as a paramedic. He's either attached to FDNY or works regularly with the firefighters. I was eavesdropping on his conversation with another dad and didn't quite catch it. At any rate, his training and certification were done through FDNY and on 9/11 he was at the World Trade Center in Tower No. 2, escaping in the nick of time.
He spent the next four days on the site, digging through the rubble He went without sleep and lost track of time and says that on the Friday after he asked another medic what time it was and was shocked to learn it was so late in the day. The thing was, he thought it was late in the day Wednesday.
Here he is, four years later, driving a bus full of kids to to the museum he loves best in the City, having a grand time, pointing out the sights, and joking with this other dad who happens to be a firefighter himself.
Now for all I know this guy wakes up screaming in the night. Possibly he's a liar. Human nature being what it is, there are probably more people who say they were downtown that day than actually live in Manhattan. And I can't forget all the Vietnam Vets who aren't really.
But I believed our driver.
Also, it's a good bet that the guy voted for Bush, that he is a hawk on the war in Iraq, (or was. There are, thankfully, fewer and fewer of those every day), and when he's alone with his buddies he's as angry and vengeful as you might expect anybody who'd gone through what he went through to be.
But it's also a good bet that he's not.
Kerry won New York handily.
But even more impressive to me than the driver's cheerfulness was New York City's. The bus entered Manhattan over the GW and drove down Broadway to the museum and all the way there was nothing to tell you that the city had suffered through 9/11 or that it's probably still a major target for terrorists. I don't know what things look like down at Ground Zero these days but Central Park was wide open and full of people just out enjoying the glorious summer day and security at the museum itself was probably just what it was on September 10, 2001, the guards making cheerful and cursory checks of the bags and backpacks visitors were bringing in, doing not much more than discouraging people from carrying in that soda they'd just bought at the hot dog stand outside.
Now maybe everybody's lapsed into complacency, and maybe if Bush had come through with his promise of money to help pay for increased security New York would increase its security. But I think it's more a case that New Yorkers---and most Americans---have collectively decided that we can't have our fear and our lives at the same time.
The weekend after 9/11 the Mannions went apple picking at an orchard near where we lived in Syracuse. At the orchard we saw two of the bravest people in America that week. A husband and wife, both obviously Middle Eastern, devout Muslims---she was in her chador---carrying a bushel basket of apples between them.
I'm sure that a lot of people looked twice and even three times at them, but I'm also sure that just about everybody who did did what I did, smiled and said to themselves, Good for them.
Around that time, a conservative columnist and editor I'm not going to name, because I admire him and I think he's ashamed of himself now, wrote about how he'd gotten off a plane because he noticed several dark-skinned men, who may have been of Middle Eastern descent, among the other passengers. The columnist admitted that the men were not together, that as far as he knew all of them were as American as Conway Twitty, and that there was nothing else about them besides their skin color to warrant his suspicions or his fear, yet he still pushed his way off the plane, and on top of that he was angry at the airline for allowing those other men to just board the plane with him in the first place.
He seemed to be arguing that airlines should have adopted a policy of allowing no more than one possible Muslim per flight.
A friend of ours, a retired cop, but who was still on the job in 2001, told us about a call he'd gone out on that fall.
Seems a local insurance agent had dreamed up an advertising campaign for himself that had a slogan like, "Don't let shopping for insurance become a headache." He did a mass mailing to his customers and to potential customers that included a brochure with his new slogan, plus, a gimmick I'm sure he thought was pretty funny, a single aspirin tablet taped to the page.
You know what happens to an aspirin when the envelope it's riding in gets speed sorted down at the Post Office?
You can imagine how people in those days of anthrax scares felt when they opened up their mail and a cloud of white powder drifted out.
The brochures hit people's mailboxes on a Friday. That Saturday morning the insurance agent got up, poured himself a cup of coffee, went to his front window, and saw his house surrounded by police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances while a SWAT team marched up his front walk escorting a bunch of guys in HAZMAT suits.
The Syracuse Police Chief and the mayor talked it over and came to a decision. The cops could not waste their time chasing down every small business owner who got too cute and clever for their own good.
In the early days after 9/11, when the Bush Leaguers were busy trying to keep us all so scared that we would support the invasion of Iraq, give their domestic agenda a buy, and vote a straight Republican ticket in every election, they were also pushing another message.
That was, we should all go about our lives, doing what we normally do, living as if 9/11 had never happend. Anything else, they liked to say, and the terrorists win, an attitude that was so easily parodied that even junior high school kids were in on the joke.
Of course, the Bush Leaguers really meant by it that we should not even think about conserving oil or raising taxes or cutting any programs that benefited Bush's base or that he needed to pass himself off as a "compassionate" conservative in 2004.
But as cynical and facile at it was, I think most Americans thought it was really very good advice, and we took it.
We decided, we can have our fear or we can have our lives.
James Lileks intends to try to have both. He wants to hide under the bed on one blog, and drive merrily to Home Depot in his SUV listening to his iPod and thinking what a cool, hip dude am I on the other. Too bad for him.
Too bad for the other terrorized Right Wingers.
You know what they like to say about the terrorists? "They hate us for our freedom."
Well, that's why the Right hates the Left these days. We aren't as afraid as they are.
They hate us for our freedom from fear.