Monthly Archives: October 2001

The American Left

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The dust, that rolling boiling falling cloud from September 11th, simply and stubbornly refuses to settle. It re-appears in war images from Afghanistan, and at home, in the invisible, postal dust of disease.

Dreams and ideas died by the thousands on that bright blue morning and here, in the “after” new dreams, new thoughts, come somehow dusted with doubt over what lies ahead. It’s a moment of opportunity, a chance to change society for the better, or it’s not, it’s just more of the same and, diminished.

On the American political left in particular the tragedy and the aftermath mean civic soul-searching, wrestling with the concept of patriotism and coming to grips with a new face of war.


Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation.

Faith and Healing

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Cigarette smoking is up. So is alcohol consumption, anti-depressant use, and church attendance. Since September 11, Americans have been in coping mode.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, in a city known for its bravado, a staggering rush of stunned, humbled New Yorkers gathered at All Souls Church on the Upper East Side, just one day after the towers fell. Outside, an overflow crowd that couldn’t hear the sermon found solace in shared grief. Inside, Minister Forrest Church reminded his aching congregation that in crisis, there’s danger, and opportunity. “In the wake of this tragedy,” Church said, “it is the decisions we make that will shape our character and, to a degree, drive the plot our lives will follow.” Faith and the future.


Forrest Church, Senior Minister of the All Souls Church in New York City and editor of the forthcoming “Restoring Faith: America’s Religious Leaders Answer Terror with Hope.”

Adam Gopnik

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It’s five weeks to the day. What happens next is well underway. At first, all we had were images, pictures so horrifying they pushed out all understanding, leaving only a rough ‘before and after’ calculus to hang emotions on.

But now our minds our busy. Newspapers are full of awful, busy details of the plot, the investigation, and new pictures of bombs falling, refugees running, and strange, unwelcome computer sketches of anthrax spores’ growing dance on the screen.

Here at the Connection we’ve decided that each Tuesday at this hour, we’re stepping back from the news with some the best writers, thinkers and doers, and asking, so now that nothing will ever be the same, what’s different?


Adam Gopnik, writer for The New Yorker magazine and author of “Paris to the Moon”.

Terror and the Transformation of America

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We are all grownups now. Gone the playground mentality, that “are we having fun yet?” sensibility of the time we now call “before.” Before. When Americans could hold all this to be true: Goodbye was only for now; laughter would always feel light; and America would always be land of the free, home of the brave, and safe.

Suddenly, violently, America landed in “after,” where the image of two collapsing towers is the new collective reference point. After. Where a breathless, traumatized nation relies on a single date, September 11th, to convey something that eludes language. There is no word that captures anger, sorrow, loss, confusion. But there is a word for the process that comes out of each: Transformation. With a cinematic flourish that no one wanted, change began. And continues still.


Michael Ignatieff, Director and Carr Professor of Human Rights Practice at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

Geneva Overholser, the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism, in its Washington bureau