9/11 exposes West's moral decay
by Salim Mansur
Ten years after 9/11, we can see for ourselves how much is wrong in our world.
By our world, I mean the West.
The West is where men and women pioneered entirely new ways of working, thinking and generating wealth that brought unprecedented comfort in how people live in the West — and others elsewhere greatly desire.
On 9/11 the U.S., the leading member of the West, was taken by surprise.
It happened once before in living memory.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, a Sunday, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbour and took America by surprise.
There are many differences between these two events set apart by 60 years.
Yet what is interesting to note — and deserving of study at length — is the varying responses of the American government and people to the deliberately planned acts of war against the U.S.
In any relationship or equation, there is at a minimum two entities.
Over the past several years, I have written in my columns about the broken culture of the Arab-Muslim world which is responsible for the sort of politics that eventually led to 9/11.
It might be said terrorism in the name of Islam is the symptom of a civilization wrestling with its own demise.
In the 60 years between the two acts of aggression, the U.S. and the West changed immensely and not necessarily for the better.
The manner in which Imperial Japan was defeated contrasts with the manner in which for the past decade the U.S. and the West, united or in disagreement, have confronted terrorism and violence emanating from the Arab-Muslim world.
The overriding reason, I believe, is the extent to which the West has lost confidence in its own cultural values and historical achievements. This is a vast and complicated story.
In the future, some historian of much talent and imagination might sit down to write this story, as Edward Gibbon did to tell the story of the fall and decline of the Roman Empire.
But there were periodically intimations of this story, which went unheeded.
The drift of the West is unmistakable, and its denial is a sign of the problem.
Poets have the uncanny, even prophetic, ability to sense ahead of others things or situations gone awry.
Leonard Cohen, in some of his poetry and songs, has demonstrated this ability that great poets possess.
In the song "The Future," released in 1992, Cohen described the malady of the West. He wrote, "Things are going to slide, slide in all directions," recalling for me W. B. Yeats' opening lines from "The Second Coming," "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world …"
Cohen's most compelling words in this song tell of what went so terribly wrong in the years between 1941 and 2001. This can hardly be discussed these days because the emotions generated drown any sober thought on the matter.
But Cohen prophetically apprehended the source of moral disorder gripping the West.
He wrote, "Give me Christ/or give me Hiroshima/Destroy another fetus now/We don't like children anyhow/I've seen the future, baby: It is murder."
Can civilizations that "don't like children" survive? After 9/11, there is no denying Cohen's chilling insight.