How To Honor The True Spirit Of 9/11 (First, Ignore Limbaugh)September 1st, 2011 4:00 am Joe Conason
To Rush Limbaugh and assorted lesser cogs in the right-wing noise machine, that was a deeply controversial statement and an attempt to “politicize” the event — as if the White House had ordered everybody to put on blue caps, join a local Obama for America chapter, and then build a solar house for the poor.
Yes, according to the furious wingers, Obama’s attempt to inspire volunteerism was in fact a barely disguised appeal to “serve the state,” as well as an un-American distraction from what should be, in their minds, a more militaristic commemoration. But leaving aside their usual bizarre theories about the president and his motives, this pseudo-controversy shows how little these so-called conservatives understand what really happened on 9/11, in New York City and then across the country. On that day and the days that followed we saw a demonstration of the highest American values, which are apparently no longer comprehensible to the denizens of the right-wing swamp.
Our traditions of volunteerism and community have distinguished this republic ever since its earliest years — as Alexis de Tocqueville explained back in the 1830s, when he wrote the two volumes known as Democracy in America. In that classic work, he described the uniquely American style of voluntary association and how it made a free society possible. He was no radical, by the way, and would have ridiculed the stupid notion that a presidential call to voluntary service equals socialism.