I suppose a whole generation will always remember where they were when they heard about 9/11, just as an earlier one never forgot where they were when they heard JFK had been shot. I was exactly where I am now, looking at a computer screen behind which, through the window, the Connecticut Berkshires roll away to the horizon, when I glanced at the TV and saw the World Trade Center in flames - just as I now see Mayor Bloomberg presiding over a remembrance ceremony.
I went upstairs and told Maggy, ill in bed with the cancer that was to claim her life just 17 months later. Together, we watched the utter destruction of an area weâ€™d both known so well when I worked for Alan Abelsonâ€™s Barronâ€™s Magazine some 20 years earlier.
The same eerie feeling of complete change and no change comes over me when I contemplate the political consequences of 9/11. Osama bin Laden, whose head could surely have been obtained through a traditional commercial transaction with one or other local warlord, remains irritatingly at large. The government of Afghanistan, taken from the majority tribe and given to minority tribes, is obviously reverting, amid the usual chaos. Iraq continues to be the object of Washingtonâ€™s intense attention, as it has been since the first Gulf War, for reasons that deserve analysis but manifestly had nothing to do with 9/11. Domestic terrorism in the U.S., which could have been as serious as the Irish Republican Armyâ€™s recent bombing campaign in Britain (why no War On Terror against them, by the way?) mysteriously did not materialize - even though episodic outbreaks of Immigrant Mass Murder sydrome have shown how easily individuals with rifles could paralyze the country. Above all, the Bush Adminstration continued with its fanatical drive to accomodate the Mexodus, heedless of border security.