Magazine article Mother Jones

Editor's Note

Magazine article Mother Jones

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

When we look back on the post-September 11 period, how will we remember it? As a watershed moment when Americans took stock of ourselves and the nation and rededicated ourselves to the commonweal? Or as a missed opportunity? For many of us, it has been a time to reflect on our common bonds and to focus on what is really important in life. But what has come out of all this national self-reflection? Fifty-eight percent of American adults donated to disaster relief in the wake of the September attacks, only to discover that the American Red Cross, which collected the bulk of the money, intended to hold on to nearly half of it. And, as Ian Frazier points out in this issue ("All-Consuming Patriotism," page 70), what did our president tell us we could do to help the nation in its time of crisis? To never stop shopping. There's something less than Churchillian in that. We heard determined talk of defeating the Taliban, an objective efficiently carried out by U.S. forces and their Afghan allies, but little about pushing for democracy in the Middle East, for, as Jack Hitt notes ("Liberty and Justice for Us," page 30), such talk would surely have alienated the despots who control the oil spigots.

On the home front, the attorney general seized on the security concerns and patriotism of the moment to run roughshod over the very constitutional rights that distinguish us from the terrorists. And his authoritarian vision and rhetoric-as David Corn shows in his revealing profile ("The Fundamental John Ashcroft," page 38)-- set off alarms on both the right and the left. …

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