It’s difficult to disagree with Mark Steyn’s take:
9/11 was bad news if you were enjoying the good life in a jihadist training camp in the Hindu Kush. But, over the long run, it was a useful lesson in the limits of western will.
It is often said that “our way of life” was attacked on 9/11. But there is a disagreement about what constituted the way of life that was attacked. If we conceive it, as most Americans probably do, as working, shopping, and hanging out without fear of being blown up by terrorists, then our way of life has, to date, been fully restored and preserved. And that’s no small thing.
But on the left and the right both, there is a sense that something significant has been lost. The left thinks it’s our civil liberties. They cite government detention and harsh interrogation of terrorists and terrorist suspects (although “our” civil liberties are not directly affected by those events), as well as surveillance of certain communications involving terrorists and terrorst suspects.
Many conservatives sense, as Steyn does, that we have lost our will to defend “core civilizational values” from the forces of jihad and Islamization. They point to the Danish cartoon matter, including its latest scandalous manifestation at Yale, and to the fate of some Muslim girls in America, Canada, Britain, Sweden, Germany who chose not to wear a hijab. They could also cite the backlash by our elites against some of the detention, interrogation, and surveillance methods mentioned above.
This loss doesn’t really stem from 9/11; the attacks of that day simply exposed, over time, the rot. In any event, Steyn does not exaggerate by much when he says “in our broader culture, self-loathing, trutherism and other fin du civilisation poses run rampant, even unto the heart of the government.”