Over at National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg scolds David Sirota of Salon “for having the dumbest reaction to bin Laden’s death so far.” Sirota views bin Laden as the victor:
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory – he has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history – the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.
Well, allow me to nominate Neil Macdonald, Washington senior correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) who echoes a remarkably similar sentiment arguing that bin Laden “in so many ways, Osama bin Laden died the victor.” McDonald elaborates:
But when bin Laden directed those airplanes at civilians ten years ago, he stole a lot more from this nation than the lives of 3,000 of her citizens.
He taught this country the consequences of operating an open, free society. Literally, he showed Americans the price of their liberty, how many of their principles they’d be willing to cast aside, and how quickly they would do it.
In other words, bin Laden showed American exceptionalists how unexceptionally they behave when faced with horrors most older nations have endured.
Beginning the day after the attacks, the United States became a meaner, more paranoid, more impoverished place.
Before I go further, I should note that Macdonald is the older brother of comedian and former Saturday Night Live alumunus Norm Macdonald – only far less funny.
Macdonald then proceeds to bash the United States for Islamophobia, the Patriot Act and George W. Bush:
But bin Laden didn’t just prod Americans into disregarding their own laws and principles when dealing with their real and supposed enemies; he goaded them into turning on each other.
Bush, on the night of the attacks, declared that there were only two choices: you were with America, meaning him, or with the terrorists. No middle ground.
Unfortunately, Macdonald doesn’t let the facts get in the way of his argument. First, Bush didn’t utter “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” on the night of September 11, 2001. He did so nine days later on September 20, 2001 before a joint session of Congress. Here is what President Bush actually said:
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
If Macdonald had bothered to exercise the most basic diligence he would know that Bush was directing his comments at nations which harbored terrorists, not Americans who didn’t agree with his policies.
Macdonald has spent eight years in Washington but obviously knows precious little about this country.