Unclear future: 9/11: Ten years later

Read more reflections on the 9/11 anniversary.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Americans were unified. We had all been attacked, and we knew what we were defending. References to Pearl Harbor sprang readily to mind. This was our moment to stand up and stand together.

Or so it seemed at the time. Ten years later, the war on terror drags on, and we find ourselves in an era of partisanship and polarization. The historical analogies come not from our times of unity but from the decades when we were most divided against ourselves—the sectional rivalries before the Civil War or the conflicts of race, class and ethnicity that marked the end of the Gilded Age. Compromise starts to seem impossible, because we are not sure that there are any shared goals that we might approach by different methods. Every policy decision takes on the dimensions of an ultimate choice between good and evil.