Left Behind by History

Hundreds of protestors block traffic on K Street as they rally in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in downtown Washington, DC October 13, 2023. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In China and in France (and the news will continue coming in from elsewhere) there have been “frenzied knife attacks” on innocent people after Hamas called for a “day of rage” to complement the days of rage it already has inflicted on well more than 1,000 innocent people—including babies and toddlers and defenseless elderly people—in Israel. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin reports that there have been more than 100 antisemitic episodes in France since the attacks on Israel on Saturday. In the United States, Jewish schools are closed or operating under heavy security, the students enjoying “indoor activities,” which is a way of saying they are sheltering in place without saying they are sheltering in place. 

At the height of post-9/11 paranoia—and it is possible to be paranoid in a world that is nonetheless genuinely dangerous—we were warned that “the front line is everywhere.” That was always the worst, totalizing line of thought about the so-called global war on terrorism, an invitation to tyranny and lawlessness as the executive claimed extraordinary, extralegal powers such as that of holding “enemy combatants” indefinitely without trial or legal process on basically nothing more than its own say-so. There were certainly abuses, though not of the scale or scope that libertarian-minded skeptics (guilty!) fretted about. The worst aspect of the post-9/11 era turned out not to be an out-of-control security state but our poisoned domestic politics.

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