George Orwell once said, "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." Having been dragged into the muck reading Jonathan Rosenbaum's fatuous review of September 11 [September 5], it seems only fitting to say what seems self-evident.
If an attack occurs on American soil, if thousands of Americans die as a result, if it is clear that the attacker's goal was the death of as many innocent American men, women, and children as possible, if the group generally recognized as being responsible for the attack has made no secret of their hatred of America, and indeed their desire to see America destroyed, then that attack may be reasonably seen as a "blow against America." It is not a question of there being many possible interpretations and a danger in our "willingness to privilege this vision over every other possible understanding" (whatever that means). There is no "ideological defeat" in saying what is true.
The men who hijacked the planes on the morning of September 11, 2001, didn't set out to commit a crime against humanity. They set out to kill Americans in the most spectacular, terrible way possible, and they succeeded. That may fall into the category of "crimes committed against humanity," but it was motivated by hatred of a particular country and a particular way of life. To pretend otherwise is foolishness.