My grief over the tenth anniversary of the attacks came a couple of days late. But there I was in my car (when Americans have the most time to think), finding myself in kind of a silent scream.
How much worse the emotions must be for the families of victims. And how hard it must be for folks who knew they “got it wrong” when reacting to the crisis – including one of the most powerful people in the world, Bill Keller, who was an opinion editor at the New York Times in September 2001 and later becames its executive editor. (Full disclosure, my spouse is a frequent freelance writer for the paper.)
For some reason, it took me days to get through Keller’s mea culpa in the Sunday magazine that is dated September 11, 2011 (the Times magazine and certain other Sunday sections come a day earlier to our house as subscribers), even though it’s not a terrible long work.
Does the piece, subtitled, “A Hard Look at Why I Wanted War,” make anyone feel better? Did it make Keller feel better? I don’t know, but I do find it a brave and necessary act.
No use summarizing his thoughts here. But I must say that he doesn’t pull punches, lumping himself in with the “useful idiots” who played a role in bringing us into the Iraq mess. How did the "Old Gray Lady," so often accused of being a house organ of “liberal journalism” get cast in such a role? Keller does a decent job of breaking it down.
In those months following the attacks, a lot of us on the left were ready to start bombing everywhere. I personally wasn’t on board with going to Iraq. But I certainly wasn’t demonstrating to stop it either.
So good on you, Mr. Keller. Although I’m sure it’s not the most satisfying literature on the planet, and I came away feeling oddly conflicted emotionally, I applaud the move and encourage people to read this. Again, though they may not shed any brilliant light, there should probably be more of these apology pieces than there have been.