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The U.S. Capitol did not fall the way the Twin Towers did

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11 Jan 2021 13:29 #388274 by chairman
The U.S. Capitol did not fall the way the Twin Towers did, but the American idea it embodies was brutalized. We must remember 1/6 the way we remember 9/11.

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11 Jan 2021 13:31 #388275 by chairman
I flew past the buildings two days before the planes hit them.

In those days planes bound for LaGuardia often lapped Lower Manhattan before making the final turn, steering remarkably close to the skyscrapers massed just below. They did not seem at all vulnerable but rather impregnable and permanent, fixed points for pilots who had lost their way. As gigantic as they were, as out of human scale, they still managed to whisper to travelers that they had come home. It was September 9, 2001, about 6 p.m., with the sun sinking in the sky. When I looked out the airplane window and saw the Twin Towers, they struck me with the force of revelation. It wasn’t simply that they stood so improbably close that they seemed touchable; it was that they were ablaze. They were bathed in light, their steel ribs shellacked with the incandescence of the evening, and so they shimmered to the left of the plane, a validation barely out of reach.

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11 Jan 2021 13:31 #388276 by chairman
But what kind of validation? The buildings were not beloved then. They were not yet a wounding and unfathomable absence in the Manhattan skyline. If they were considered temples of any kind, they were temples simply to capitalism, if not to Moloch, monolithic to their spindly bones. And yet that’s not how I saw them in the light of that prelapsarian day, and I took out a notebook and began madly scribbling to account for how I did see them—for what they revealed to me.

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11 Jan 2021 13:35 #388277 by chairman
The revelation was that they were alive, not just with light and not just with money, but with an idea that was inseparable from the unease they caused—the idea of upward thrust. Out of American society’s schism and fracture had somehow come this, a pair of buildings rising nearly to flight, the way mountains rise out of the collision of tectonic plates. They were enduring artifacts of America’s ability to reinvent itself. And because they were animated by an idea, they would be there forever.

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11 Jan 2021 13:40 #388278 by chairman
Two days later, I watched them turn to sand, to ash, twin columns of smoke rising in unholy memorial to the thousands of lives extinguished inside. I was shocked, of course, because to my mind the attack came out of nowhere, materializing from the sky as instantaneously as the Twin Towers then disappeared from it. The same kind of plane that steered around the buildings while I was on board had been turned into a spear that had found the exposed spot in America’s side, and from this politically inclined murder there could be no resurrection. The World Trade Center had died. So had many of the people inside, and so had the idea, fleetingly glimpsed, that had connected them.

I had not thought that was possible. I had not thought it was possible for ideas to die when their physical embodiments did. But that’s what it felt like, on September 12, especially after I found out that the men who’d turned the wonder of flight into a weapon of mass murder had lived for a year in Florida before they seized the four cockpits. I hadn’t realized how much I believed in the American dream until I watched its effigy fall in downtown Manhattan. I hadn’t realized how naive and heedless my faith had been until I heard myself uselessly repeating its precepts to the Mohamed Atta in my mind: But you lived here! You tasted the American way of life! You were free—and this is what you did?

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11 Jan 2021 13:44 #388279 by chairman
The attack on the U.S. Capitol was not a shock, because the people who perpetrated it did not come from out of the sky. They had been talking about their plans for weeks, and in broader terms for years; he, the most audible man in the world, had been talking about it, tweeting about it, ever since he lost the election—indeed, even before. A reckoning is coming, he said; the day is coming. He didn’t have to say that his people were coming, because he had made the pact between them explicit enough for their plans to be implicit. They all knew January 6 was going to be “wild,” as he put it, and that was the key word, the tip-off that the bacchanal of his rallies, indeed the liberation of his rallies, would now be visited upon the city where the buildings were—along with the American idea.

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11 Jan 2021 13:46 #388280 by chairman
Buildings break your heart, especially when you invest them with your ideas and your identity—especially when you make them symbols not just of who you are but of who you are supposed to be. They break your heart because they are themselves destined to be broken. The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple of Jerusalem and the Romans the Second, both as the necessary precondition for casting the people who’d built them to the winds. I imagine that the Jews who witnessed those sieges and assaults thousands of years ago felt the way I felt on January 6, when I watched the Capitol come under invasion and, for a few preposterous moments, entertained the touching possibility that the idea the building symbolizes might repel the invaders from the building itself

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11 Jan 2021 13:47 #388281 by chairman
Five days later, the Capitol still stands—proof enough that the insurrectionists who besieged it had more respect for the building than they did for either the people they terrorized or the idea they claimed to revere. Americans cannot but be heartened that at least this physical aspect of American democracy survived, and was strong enough for Congress to pick a new and, with any luck, more American president. But we did not make it past the day I worried about. We did not make it past January 6, 2021, and now we have a better idea of what the days beyond that failure look like, because they are our days. The unsayable thing—the taboo thing—to say about 9/11 is that, while it might have provided an occasion for Americans to rediscover their patriotism, it was in the moment exactly what it felt like: a defeat. It is the same with January 6, 2021. This was the defeat of a police force, the defeat of a presumption, the defeat of naive faith in the native goodness of our fellow Americans—a defeat made all the more bitter for being an inside job.

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11 Jan 2021 13:47 #388282 by chairman
The American idea turned out to be vulnerable to profanation at the hands of mere opportunists, pillagers who breached the temple and whose leering faces must have resembled those of the Romans who made it to the heart of the Second Temple only to find that Yahweh wasn’t there. But vulnerability to profanation isn’t the same as perishability, and after all Yahweh wasn’t in the temple because he was in the scrolls that generation upon generation of Jewish scholars had protected in fact and in memory. I still have faith that Senator Jon Ossoff will remember the words of the American scrolls and call upon Americans to live up to them. I still believe with all the innocence left to me that Senator Raphael Warnock will protect the precepts of the American scrolls because, by God, he has lived them. I still believe that out of schism and fracture will emerge the unstoppably upward thrust, carrying us along until one day we are as good as the words on our founding documents. We must wait and see; we have no choice but to wait and see, because the idea ensconced within the walls of the Capitol might not have died, but the presumption that those walls were sufficient to preserve it certainly did. No, those walls did not fall. But they were ruthlessly defaced by those who seemed unconvinced that they meant anything. Which is why it is not enough to remember the first Wednesday of this new year as January 6, 2021.

It is 1/6. May it turn out, once and for all, to be the day that changed everything.

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11 Jan 2021 13:48 #388283 by chairman
Tom Junod is a senior writer at ESPN.

Why cant mapoui write like this for this forum

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