An Inclusive Litany


Norman Mailer addresses the Cross Border Festival in Amsterdam, October 29, 2001:
The WTC was not just an architectural monstrosity, but also terrible for people who didn't work there, for it said to all those people: "If you can't work up here, boy, you're out of it." That's why I'm sure that if those towers had been destroyed without loss of life, a lot of people would have cheered. Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed.

And then came the next shock. We had to realize that the people that did this were brilliant. It showed that the ego we could hold up until September 10 was inadequate.

Americans can't admit that you need courage to do such a thing. For that might be misunderstood. The key thing is that we in America are convinced that it was blind, mad fanatics who didn't know what they were doing. But what if those perpetrators were right and we were not? We have long ago lost the capability to take a calm look at the enormity of our enemy's position.

[Ed.: In a letter to the Boston Globe the following March, Mailer criticized columnist George Will for comparing President Bush's speech patterns to Ernest Hemingway's often terse writing style. "You can't stop people who are never embarassed by themselves," wrote Mailer, who of course has never written or uttered anything that might cause him embarrassment.]

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