In his 9/11 speech at the Pentagon, the President declares that our enemies
may seek to exploit our freedoms, but we will not sacrifice the liberties we cherish or hunker down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. They may wish to drive us apart, but we will not give in to their hatred and prejudice. For Scripture teaches us to "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."
(Note the context of the Ephesians 4:31 quotation. Paul goes on to urge slaves and masters not to be angry with one another and that wives should obey their husbands. Paul's goal here is not submissiveness of men to each other but above all to God.)
This meekness Obama declares on "a day of remembrance, a day of reflection, and -- with God's grace -- a day of unity and renewal." And what does this unity consist of?
Those who attacked us sought to demoralize us, divide us, to deprive us of the very unity, the very ideals, that make America America -- those qualities that have made us a beacon of freedom and hope to billions around the world. Today we declare once more we will never hand them that victory. As Americans, we will keep alive the virtues and values that make us who we are and who we must always be.
And what virtues and values make us one? Evidently the most unAmerican person is an angry one. It follows that the American should lack this most fundamental passion for politics. (This said at the Pentagon!) I suppose we should save our anger for BP executives, Republicans, fanatical pastors, etc.
Obama appropriately recalls the Declaration:
Like generations before us, let us come together today and all days to affirm certain inalienable rights, to affirm life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On this day and the days to come, we choose to stay true to our best selves -- as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
But contrary to Obama's suggestion, defending rights and being angry are inseparable. When justice is the goal, anger humanizes.
Moreover, maintaining there is a right to burn a Koran and a right to build a mosque near the 9/11 site reveals utter confusion about rights. As Lincoln argued in debating with Douglas, there is never a right to do wrong. In a regime of freedom, we permit willful, stupid, and even immoral actions to occur without punishing them. And defending such actions as rights diminishes their dignity and what makes virtues of real rights. Freedoms of speech, religion, and property become mere "values," which can be bargained away or accommodated like anything else. Hence 9/11 becomes a day for anaesthesia.