creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Joe Conason
Joe Conason
20 Aug 2014
Missouri Burning: Why Ferguson's Inferno Is No Surprise

The past week's unfolding tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, with its militarized and overwhelmingly white police … Read More.

14 Aug 2014
Ranting About Robin Williams, Limbaugh Exposes a Hole in His Own Soul

Having infuriated millions of Robin Williams fans with insensitive remarks on the late actor's suicide, Rush … Read More.

11 Aug 2014
Ebola's Message: Foreign Aid and Science Funding in a Time of Global Peril

Most Americans have long believed, in embarrassing ignorance, that the share of the U.S. federal budget spent … Read More.

How To Honor the True Spirit of 9/11: First, Ignore Limbaugh

Comment

If volunteerism is suddenly unpatriotic and even "socialist," that will come as a nasty surprise to many of the Republicans and conservatives who always have supported such efforts, notably including both presidents named Bush. And if stepping up to help our neighbors and community on 9/11 would somehow dishonor the Americans killed in those infamous attacks — as feverish critics of President Barack Obama now scream — then what do they think actually happened on that day 10 years ago?

The latest outbreak of phony outrage began when the president, following a tradition established by George W. Bush, announced that he and the first lady will mark the upcoming anniversary as a "National Day of Service and Remembrance" and urged Americans to "come together, in their communities and neighborhoods, to honor the victims of 9/11 and to reaffirm the strength of our nation with acts of service and charity."

To Rush Limbaugh and assorted lesser cogs in the right-wing noise machine, that was a deeply controversial statement and an attempt to "politicize" the event — as if the White House had ordered everybody to put on blue caps, join a local Obama for America chapter and then build a solar house for the poor.

Yes, according to the furious wingers, Obama's attempt to inspire volunteerism was in fact a barely disguised appeal to "serve the state," as well as an un-American distraction from what should be, in their minds, a more militaristic commemoration. But leaving aside their usual bizarre theories about the president and his motives, this pseudo-controversy shows how little these so-called conservatives understand what really happened on 9/11, in New York and then across the country. On that day and the days that followed, we saw a demonstration of the highest American values, which are apparently no longer comprehensible to the denizens of the right-wing swamp.

Our traditions of volunteerism and community have distinguished this republic ever since its earliest years — as Alexis de Tocqueville explained back in the 1830s, when he wrote the two volumes known as "Democracy in America." In that classic work, he described the uniquely American style of voluntary association and how it made a free society possible.

He was no radical, by the way, and would have ridiculed the stupid notion that a presidential call to voluntary service equals socialism.

But it isn't really necessary to consult Tocqueville, who admittedly was a Frenchman, on the American virtue of volunteerism.

Just ask Tim Zagat, publisher of the famous Zagat restaurant guides and New York civic activist, who is preparing to issue a remarkable book, titled "9/11: Stories of Courage, Heroism and Generosity," next week. In the participants' own words, it chronicles the outpouring of citizen action of every sort that sprang up in response to the attacks. These are the amazing true stories of the construction workers who left their work sites and marched down to ground zero, unbidden and en masse, to join the search and rescue effort; of the restaurateurs who emptied their refrigerators, brought tons of food down to the site and fed everyone working there; of the sanitation workers, teachers, phone technicians and thousands of others who stepped forward to help the city revive itself; and of Americans from across the country who joined them. There was the guy in a wheelchair who rolled himself miles from his home in Harlem to bring down a bag of sandwiches. There was the urban search and rescue team that came up from San Juan, Puerto Rico, with their dogs to spend hour upon hour hunting through the piles of debris. And there were those who had lost loved ones in earlier disasters coming to help the bereaved of 9/11 cope with tragedy.

So many thousands showed up from everywhere to help that the authorities had to turn the city's main convention venue, the Javits Center, into a special site dedicated to organizing the volunteers according to skills and capabilities. Recalling that enormous outpouring of support from "people of all persuasions, backgrounds and beliefs," former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says, "I saw it; I lived it; and am humbled by the heartwarming, remarkable response that demonstrated the resilience of America."

That resilient spirit is perhaps what the president hopes to summon, at a time of trouble that should evoke the cooperation, sacrifice and wisdom we saw in New York after that awful autumn morning in 2001. What a disgrace that his political opponents would reject that call, seeking instead to poison the occasion with ideological ranting and partisan rancor. This is how they dishonor the memory of the dead — and they have the gall to call it patriotism.

Joe Conason is the editor in chief of NationalMemo.com. To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
A non-story on both sides of the political spectrum. Unbunch 'em, Conason, Limbaugh has made one statement on this and then let it go, he knows this is a non-story and so should Joe.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Thu Sep 1, 2011 7:01 PM
Oh, by the way, if you really want to play "he said -she said" and talk about " ideological ranting and partisan rancor" tell us how you feel about Maxine Waters telling tea partiers to go to hell, or some clown from Indiana saying that tea partiests want to see "blacks haning from trees' Believe me, no one is uglier at the mouth than post modern liberals. Ideological ranting and partisan rancor is Conason's specialty.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom
Thu Sep 1, 2011 8:19 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Joe Conason
Aug. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Thomas Sowell
Thomas SowellUpdated 2 Sep 2014
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 2 Sep 2014

15 Nov 2012 Mitt Romney's Sneering Farewell to the '47 Percent'

8 Nov 2013 Are Politicians who Cut Food Stamps and Deny Health Access Truly ‘Pro-Life'?

18 Oct 2012 Bad Arithmetic: Top Romney Economist Admits 'Jobs Plan' Numbers Don't Compute