This column was first published in the Herald after Sept. 11, 2001. I’m reprinting it (with some minor revisions), on the eve of the fifth anniversary of that blackest day in our nation’s history, as a reminder of the fundamental nature of
One day as I drove down
From an incline along that avenue, a vantage point from which I’d never before seen
I was reminded of a passage from Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead”: “I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of
On Sept. 11, 2001, after I’d watched Islamic terrorists destroy the twin towers and the innocent people in them, I was reminded of what Rand also wrote about evil: “They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed; they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence … You who’ve never grasped the nature of evil, you who describe them as ‘misguided idealists,’ they are the essence of evil.”
This passage from “Atlas Shrugged” serves to answer people bewildered over how human beings can act so savagely. At root, the Islamic terrorists are motivated by nihilism, the desire to destroy all values and existence. And they understood that the skyscraper is uniquely American.
Because of our nation’s unprecedented liberties, Americans were free to form independent judgments and act on them. This environment spawned the Industrial Revolution, which saw great technological advances and labor-saving devices, such as the steel girders and elevators that made skyscrapers possible. More specifically, the twin towers embodied capitalism, whose foundation — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — spawned
Those gleaming, soaring, stately towers were a proud boast of all these sublime human values and achievements. And this is why the religious nihilists twice targeted them. More specifically, they targeted the towers’ source: the liberated human mind. Militant Islamicists don’t want
This upcoming war is between
At root, we want life and they want death. (As a Taliban spokesman put it, “Americans want to live; but we Muslims are willing to die for our beliefs.”) Our leaders should give the death-worshiping terrorists what they want, in part, as an act of justice for we Americans who want to live.