Mark Steyn

Un-American activities

Mark Steyn says that the plans for Ground Zero are a wimp-out and a betrayal of Western values

New Hampshire

In the summer of 2002 I wrote in this space that the President had failed to seize the moment: ‘George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after September 11. He could have attempted to reverse the most poisonous tide in the Western world: the gloopy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid, even as they’re trying to kill us. He could have argued that Western self-loathing is a psychosis we can no longer afford.’

Oh, well. Three years on, it seems even clearer that this was Bush’s biggest immediate lapse in an otherwise clear-sighted understanding of what was at stake. The post-9/11 world is not primarily a war between civilisations — the West vs Islam — but a war within one civilisation: ours. It’s a long existential struggle between those who believe that Western values — or, to be more precise, the values of the English-speaking world — are one of the great blessings of this world and those ‘counter-tribalists’ (in John O’Sullivan’s phrase) who believe those values are the source of most of the world’s ills. The latter are a relatively small group but their numbers are bolstered by legions so immersed in the sappy therapeutic culture of the age that they’ve been persuaded that the best way to ‘celebrate diversity’ is to abase oneself before moral relativism and non-judgmentalism. The Islamists are merely the lucky beneficiaries of this syndrome. It’s hard to fight a war in a culture that recoils from the very concept of an opposing side: there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven’t yet accommodated.

For a few brief weeks after 9/11, back when Americans were celebrating the heroism of the brave passengers who rose up against their hijackers on Flight 93, it seemed as if the last words of Tod Beamer — ‘Let’s roll!’ — might indeed roll back the enervated multiculti squishiness of the age.

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