The Resilient City – from Empire City: New York Through the Centuries

The Resilient City
by John Avlon
From “Empire City: New York Through the Centuries”

Three hundred and forty-one New York City firefighters. Twenty-three New York City police officers. Thirty-seven Port Authority police officers. Three court officers. Two EMS workers. Thousands of innocent civilians. Numbers alone, of course, cannot do them justice.

A whole portrait of America was taken from us in an instant: individuals of every race, religion, and ethnicity; fathers and mothers, children and newlyweds, brothers, sisters and best friends. Amid our grief we now see that New York had been distracted by flash and wit and cash for too long. The heroic actions of those we lost reawakened us to the essential importance of personal courage. Overnight, and somewhat to our surprise, New York has been embraced as the nation’s symbol of resilience, the indomitable heart of America. Read More…

Hell Week in Boston Shows How 9/11 Taught Resilience – The Telegraph

Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day propelled America back to a 9/11 mindset. Tuesday through Thursday were pre-occupied with grief, manhunts and memorial services. Poisonous envelopes mailed to the president and two US senators, along with a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, only added to the low hum of anxiety.

Then on Friday, the manhunt culminated with the killing of one suspect and the capture of another – two Chechen brothers whose immigrant experience was twisted by radical Islam and turned into a nightmare for the citizens of Boston. The city’s lockdown turned into a spontaneous celebration, with the waving of American flags, applause for the SWAT teams, chants of “U-S-A” interspersed with the Boston Red Sox unofficial anthem “Sweet Caroline.”

It was “a tough week,” as President Obama said in a post-arrest press conference at the White House. But we emerged stronger, if sadder, and more united as a result of all we had experienced.. Read More…

The Fines – NY Sun

We swore that we would never forget. And for those still counting, today marks four and a half years and three days since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Yesterday will be remembered as a minor milestone in our city’s process of grieving and healing for another reason. It was the day that construction formally began at ground zero – as a dozen workers contracted by the Bovis Construction firm quietly showed up to work in the pit at 6 a.m. to prepare the site for the foundation of the memorial and museum.

Outside the perimeter gates a dozen protesters had quietly stood vigil throughout the moonlit night beside the 10 & 10 Firehouse on Liberty Street. Led by the Reverend Bill Minson – former ICM talent agent turned Baptist minister – a collection of fallen firefighter family members milled by a makeshift memorial to their loved ones, passing coffee and comfort, urging passersby to sign their petition to stop the construction process next to a yellow sign which read, “No underground memorial. Don’t bury our memories.” Read More…

Weiner, Spitzer Out: Thank You New York – CNN.com

Twelve years ago, New York City taught the nation about resilience in the face of a massive attack.

On Tuesday, New York again taught the nation that character counts.

There is, of course, no comparison between the horror of 9/11 and a mayoral primary in America’s largest city. But while the shadow of the twin towers still hangs over the hearts of many in New York, the persistence of daily life remains a quiet sign of defiance.

This year, city politics seemed determined to hit a new low rather than aspire to new heights. A series of scandal-scarred candidates sucked up the oxygen amid an otherwise forgettable field. And for a while, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer seemed likely to win their respective races on the strength of name ID and notoriety. Read More…

CNN Podcast: Big Three – Terror in Boston

CNN Radio’s Big Three: John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah.

Listen to the Podcast here:

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Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan on Bin Laden’s Death, War on Terror – The Daily Beast

Terrorism is always one bad day away from being issue number one and on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, it can be easy to forget that the terrorist’s war on us hasn’t stopped.

The good news is that we have made measurable progress in this fight – not only with the elimination of bin Laden, but also with the more than 45 attempted jihadist plots foiled in the last ten years.

The Obama administration’s strategic decision to intensely focus on the destruction of al Qaeda has proven especially effective to date, providing a useful contrast to the more unilateral, boots-on-the-ground approach of the Bush administration. This should inform our domestic debates. Read More…

The Freedom Tower, Rising from Ashes – CNN.com

The World Trade Center is again the tallest building in New York one year after the killing of Osama bin Laden and more than 10 years after the attacks that brought them down.

It is still a work in progress: The hulking steel structure known as the Freedom Tower is still 500 feet shorter than it will be when complete. But it is already a tribute to American resilience, a reminder that whatever devastation we face, we can still come back bigger and better than before.

My wife and I live two blocks from ground zero. The transformation of our neighborhood over the past decade has been inspiring, if comparatively unheralded. The streets that were once covered in ash and smoke are now teeming with life. Read More…

Barack Obama, the Unlikely Hero of War on Terror – The Telegraph

It’s been one year since Osama bin Laden was killed. I don’t imagine I’ll ever be as happy again to hear that someone was shot in the face.

Revenge, justice, call it what you will, but it felt good, like a hinge of history finally closing, a bookend to a decade spent with images in our minds of the twin towers imploding.

I was three blocks away in New York on 9/11, working as a speech writer at City Hall and spent the next three months writing eulogies. So yeah, this was personal. But the horror was personal to everyone with a heart and a head. Read More…

How Occupy Wall Street Flashed New York Back to 9/11 – The Daily Beast

Ten years ago, the streets of lower Manhattan were blocked off by barricades. The fires at Ground Zero were still burning. Streets were closed, guarded by police, as the recovery of body parts and cleaning up of ash from the worst terrorist attack in our history continued. Read More…

Islam’s Civil War – The Daily Beast

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is over, but America is still wrestling with the role of Islam in our society. And Islam, no less significantly, is struggling with its own internal tensions as a faith battered between radicals, reactionaries, and reform.

Perhaps the most fearless advocate for reformation in Islam is Irshad Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at NYU and author of the important and timely book Allah, Liberty and Love:  The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom. Read More…

Ten Years After 9/11 – John Avlon Talks to Irshad Manji – C-SPAN

John Avlon talks to Irshad Manji about the impact of Islam in the United States over the next ten years. They examined how a new generation, both Muslim and non-Muslim, can re-shape post-September 11, 2001, America. Ms. Manji promoted reconciling faith and freedom by developing the “moral courage” to speak up despite fears of backlash. She also responded to questions from members of the audience.

“Islam in America: The Next 10 Years” was a program of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Forty-Five Foiled Terror Plots Since 9/11 – The Daily Beast

As news of a new “credible” threat swept across the nation on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Americans were abruptly reminded that terrorism is always one bad day away from being issue No. 1.

In the latest case, one report said at least three people—one believed to be a U.S. citizen—entered the U.S. in August to plan a car-bomb attack against Washington, D.C., or New York. The suspected terrorists are thought to have come from Afghanistan or Pakistan, and at least two rental trucks are being sought nationwide. White House officials confirmed that President Obama had been briefed on the “specific” terrorism threat. Read More…

The Recovery – The Daily Beast

Lower Manhattan is a living symbol of civic resilience; it is evidence of how free people can triumph over fear. The neighborhood surrounding Ground Zero has become the fastest-growing in New York City.

Daniel Libeskind is part of the influx. The Bronx-raised designer of the Freedom Tower was living in Berlin on 9/11: “I was determined to live in lower Manhattan. And I’m so happy because it’s really coming back to life … It’s a kind of renaissance.” Read More…

Savor this moment, in the name of the 3,000 – CNN.com

I have never been so happy to hear that someone is dead.

It’s not bloodlust — it’s justice.

Ten years ago at this time, Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan planning the terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 of our fellow Americans in cold blood.

Now he is dead and the families of his victims can have a measure of comfort. The healing can deepen. And if there’s a celebration in the streets outside the White House and ground zero — just as there was celebration after the death of Adolf Hitler was announced on May 1, 1945 — it is deserved. It is 10 years overdue.

Read More…

Division and amnesia on 9/11 anniversary – CNN.com

The ninth anniversary of 9/11 finds our country divided.

“The warm courage of national unity”– that was the FDR quote invoked by President George W. Bush at a prayer service in the fall of 2001. It captured the spirit infusing America at the time.

Now, nine years later, our country is fractured into factions on the right and left, even on the solemn subject of the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. Read More…

9/11 Amnesia – The Daily Beast

As we approach tomorrow’s eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks—the first since President George W. Bush left office—there’s been a creeping complacency to the remembrance, a feeling of obligation bordering on inconvenience. It’s as if America wants to turn the page, but can’t quite bring itself to ignore the hole that’s still at ground zero or the war that’s still going on against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Read More…

A Conspiracy of Crackpots – City Journal

The world watched as the horror of September 11 unfolded. The attacks were filmed in real time; mass murder played out on our televisions and computer screens in what must be the most digitally documented loss of human life in history. Yet an Internet-driven conspiracy theory soon emerged, maintaining that the American government, and not al-Qaida, was behind the attacks. To quote from one online screed: “The actual forces behind the conception, planning, and execution of this seminal event came not from bearded Islamic extremists living in a cave in Afghanistan, but from within high-level rogue elements of our own government.” Read More…

From Katrina To Sept.11 – The New York Sun

The devastation of the city of New Orleans hangs inescapably over the fourth anniversary of September 11.

The suddenness of the destruction, the shattering of old assumptions, the assimilation of previously unimaginable loss, all evoke unwelcome old emotions at a time when summer turns to fall. But the damage visited upon the two cities is fundamentally different. Read More…

Our City, Indivisible – The New York Sun

Look around our city this September 11 and realize that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Now, three years after the worst day in our history, we are perhaps ready to reflect on what would have seemed almost sacrilegious just a year ago: how the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, not only changed our city forever but, by making us stronger and more united, changed us for the better. Read More…

Two Years On We’ve Kept The Faith – The New York Sun

We swore that we would never forget: the thunder and shudder of the towers coming down; funeral after funeral, our hearts shattered; searing image after searing image, our souls scarred.

Now, two years later, we have kept the faith. We have not forgotten. Truth be told, we could not if we wanted to.

The attacks on America, the destruction of our World Trade Center, all the brave and innocent lives lost, these are the central facts of our time. They do not grow easier to understand with the passing of days. Read More…