9/11, History, and Memory: A Short, Rambling Post on a Complicated Topic

But those of us who felt out of step with the militarized patriotism of those years too often blamed a handful of men in Washington for a sickness whose roots were much deeper and whose effects were much broader. . . .

Outside of government, less than a month after the attacks, Andrew Sullivan warned darkly of Al Qaeda fifth columnists among the ‘decadent left enclaves on the coasts.’ He didn’t need marching orders from George W. Bush or Dick Cheney to formulate that statement. Nor was Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue’ written at the behest of the Bush Administration. We were undoubtedly ill served by a truly terrible presidential administration. But it was not the sole source of ugliness in American life in those years.
— Ben Alpers