The Price of Madness

by Butler Shaffer – On 9/11, one of my colleagues and I were watching videotape of the planes hitting the World Trade Center earlier that day. He asked my response to this surreal atrocity. My concern, I replied, was twofold: (1) Americans were now going to have to do some very deep soul-searching to discover why so many people in the world have such an intense hatred for America that they could do this, and (2) I despaired of what the long-term implications of this would be. The attack was of such horrific dimensions that when I turned on my television that morning – not knowing what had happened – my first reaction was that I was viewing a clip from a forthcoming catastrophe film, complete with amazing special effects. Since some one-third of television “news” consists of Hollywood gossip and movie promotions, there was a sound basis for my response. When I switched to another channel and saw the same ghastliness, I knew that reality was outdoing Irwin Allen. As we approach the fifth anniversary of this act of horror, my initial concerns have proven themselves valid. To this day, most Americans – be they for or against the invasion of Iraq; be they Democrat or Republican, “conservative” or “liberal” – show no disposition to confront the deeper implications of all this. Depth analysis takes a commitment of moral and intellectual energy, and most of us are more comfortable inquiring into such superficial matters as missing teenagers, spousal murders, or sexual predators … (Read this long article on

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