As America headed into the weekend before the sixth anniversary of the horrific Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the latest purported video from Osama bin Laden reminded the country that the war on terrorism is still a real and persistent battle. But some people despise the whole war-on-terror concept. They believe that commemorating 9-11 is getting tired and dated and even psychologically harmful to the country.
As hard (or as easy) as it may be to believe, The New York Times, situated just miles from Ground Zero in Manhattan, published a typically portentous Sunday article asking: "As 9-11 Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How Much Tribute Is Enough?"
Times reporter N.R. Kleinfeld suggested the whole rigmarole was tedious and perhaps distasteful: "Again there will be the public tributes, the tightly scripted memorial events, the reflex news coverage, the souvenir peddlers. Is all of it necessary, at the same decibel level -- still?"
Amassing the usual anonymous mass of radicals who are allergic to expressions of national unity or love of country, Kleinfeld insisted, "Many people feel that the collective commemorations, publicly staged, are excessive and vacant, even annoying."
"Excessive and vacant, even annoying." Come to think of it, that's a pretty good motto for the masthead of The New York Times.
To be sure, Kleinfeld's article includes both points of view. Nancy Nee, who lost a brother, said: ''Six years feels like the blink of an eye. That number means nothing to me.'' But to the hometown paper, that opinion has no more moral authority than the jerk who stated, "I have the sense that some people are living on their victimhood, which I find a little tiring.''
The Times account also featured the typical leftist asserting that 9-11 commemorations are politicized, ''crassly corporatized and co-opted by false patriots.''
This is the same newspaper that found no one could question or contradict the grieving liberal 9-11 widows who campaigned for John Kerry in 2004.
Kleinfeld looked in his crystal ball and suggested 9-11 will soon be forgotten. He asked if anyone still remembers Feb. 15 as the day of the sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898. The article concluded with a professor asking if anyone in New York still commemorates firing on Fort Sumter to begin the Civil War.
There's a huge difference between remembering 2001 and remembering 1861. This is wishful thinking, nothing more.
The "news judgment" that's on display here is obvious. Can anyone imagine the Times suggesting to readers that they stop commemorating Pearl Harbor in 1947? Or to stop remembering John F. Kennedy in 1969, or Martin Luther King in 1974? Would anyone at the Times be willing to condemn these anniversaries when they are "crassly corporatized"?
It's very odd that Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. offered apologies to America's youth in a 2006 graduation speech that this country is so backward that it's still debating over the obvious delights of legalized abortions or "gay marriage" or untrammeled immigration, but Sulzberger's staff thinks the country desperately needs a debate over when to stop remembering Sept. 11.
Where the Times really betrays its pro-forgetfulness bias is when the academic experts arrive to say that too much remembrance suggests ... mental illness. "Mental health practitioners see a certain value in the growing fatigue," we're told. Charles Figley, director of Florida State University's Traumatology Institute, claimed: ''It's a good sign when people don't need an anniversary commemoration or demarcation. ... And it's not disrespectful to those who died.''
National Public Radio picked up the New York Times ball and ran with it. On the afternoon chat show "Talk of the Nation," guest host John Donvan interviewed Dr. Figley, and compared 9-11 events under the Bush administration to his time covering the Soviet Union for ABC. He said the Soviets were aggressive about commemorating World War II, but "I had a distinct sense that there was a political purpose to that in the former Soviet Union. It was to galvanize and legitimize the Soviet government's role because they beat back the Nazis. And again, I think this keeps coming back to your point that people will make use of anniversaries for political purposes as well as personal, psychological purposes."
America can certainly have a debate over how ( to commemorate 9-11, as we can see from some of the questionable monuments that bureaucrats have tried to create in remembrance of the lost. But just as liberals would insist it's political to pin your campaign on a "war on terror," it's also obviously political -- and much more callous -- to insist that the war on terror is a yellowed page, and it's time for Americans, citizens and mourners alike, to call off the 9-11 events and pursue more constructive activities, like sticking our heads in the sand.