Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best 9/11 Quote Ever: Leon Wieseltier at the Kennedy Center

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, is being widely quoted from his amazing speech at 9/11: An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection at the Kennedy Center. The part that everyone likes the best is this:
The obscenities of September 11, 2001 exposed the difference between builders and destroyers. We are builders. Let us agree, on this anniversary, that it is an honor to be an American and it is an honor to be free.
Truly great words. That distinction, between those who create and those who destroy, between those who want to move forward and those who want to drag us down, is the very heart of why 9/11 happened. The Taliban and all terrorists are nothing but vandals who would tear down the great works of others. Their own actions condemn their religion.

But the mainstream media seem to be deliberately ignoring the very best quote from Leon Wieseltier's speech:
We affirm ... that none of our worldviews, with God or without God, should ever become the worldview of the state, and that no sanctity ever attaches to violence.
That is the real heart of 9/11. When sanctity attaches to violence, anything can be justified. And when a state, which has the might of armies, ships, airplanes and missiles at its disposal, integrates religion into its worldview, it can sanctify the destruction of entire nations.

On 9/11, every American – indeed, every citizen of the world – should pause to thank the brave police, firefighters, soldiers, sailors and airmen who volunteer their own lives to keep us safe. We should be proud that we are the builders and creators, not the destroyers.

But we should also thank our Founding Fathers for creating a secular nation. We as a people do tend to sanctify the violence and war that we have to carry out to protect ourselves from the forces of destruction. Sometimes we go too far.

We are still a nation of Christians, atheists, Jews, Muslims and many more, with a secular government that is based on a secular Constitution. And if we remember Leon Wieseltier's words, maybe we can keep it that way.

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