On Morning Joe, Wash Post Book Critic Laments American ‘Blood Lust’ After 9/11

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada chose to remember September 11th by scolding America for succumbing to “fervor and blood lust” while fighting the war on terror in the two decades since the attack. His way of marking that tragic day was to accuse the nation of racism and following its “lowest impulses.”   

“Our next guest says 9/11 was a test and the books of the last two decades show how America failed. Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada, joins us now,” co-host Joe Scarborough noted as he introduced the left-wing journalist who just authored an essay on topic in the Post. The anchor explained that Lozada recently “read and re-read 21 books about 9/11 and America’s response to the attacks” in order to make his harsh political judgments.

Moments later, Lozada proclaimed: “The test of 9/11 that I write about in the essay you mentioned is whether we could respond to this horrifying assault on America and still be America, still uphold the values that we profess….Yet in our prosecution of the war on terror, we didn’t always display those highest values.” He further ranted:

We sometimes revealed some of our lowest impulses, whether that was deception or brutality or overreach or even delusion….We engaged in the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, as chronicled in the Senate torture report. The irony is that after spending so many years attempting to spread democracy around the world, democracy at home feels weakened. And the same building that Al Qaeda attempted to strike on September 11, 2001 and failed to, the U.S. Capitol building, was assaulted by our own citizens 20 years later.

After Scarborough urged him to talk more about all of America’s post-9/11 “mistakes,” Lozada nastily declared the United States to be the real villain:

And, you know, on that evening of 9/11, President Bush said, look, we’re the brightest beacon for freedom in the world and no one, no enemy can keep that light from shining. And he’s right in the sense that Al Qaeda was not what dimmed America’s promise. We, in some ways, did that to ourselves. And I think trying to get a handle on that kind of, you know, fervor and blood lust that comes in the initial aftermath of an attack and trying to think through long term on the potential consequences of our response to the attack is – is vital.

Near the end of the discussion, the bitter book reviewer launched into yet another unhinged tirade in which American anti-terror efforts were to blame for all manner things he detested:

There is some continuity, I think, as well as disruption. And in many ways, the legacy of the war on terror is the country that we’ve become today. You know, it’s hard to imagine a political candidate coming to power on the strength of the birtherism lie, by denigrating the sitting president as foreign and illegitimate, you know, absent the war on terror. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine a travel ban against Muslim-majority countries. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine domestic protesters being denigrated as terrorists. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine DHS, which of course didn’t exist, you know, shifting from an anti-terrorism organization to an anti-immigrant organization. And so I think we’ve seen a lot of kind of gradual encroachment and continuity in the world that 9/11 wrought, into what we have become today.

Amazingly, over on CNN’s New Day, political analyst David Gregory went off on a nearly identical left-wing screed:

I think that sense of vulnerability, the sense that we are under attack, that there’s forces out there that are meant to hurt us, I think that came into sharp relief that day. And I think there’s a through line between that and Donald Trump. You know, where our politics kept evolving and degenerating to the point where a political force like Trump could say, “This person’s out to get you. This person will hurt our way of life. You know, watch out for the Mexicans and the immigrants and, of course, the Muslims, and then the Chinese.” All of that really began out of the ashes of 9/11.

He was also similarly outraged over America defending itself against future acts of terrorism: “Well, the question then was, who’s a patriot? You know, you’re with us or against us….Like you’re either on board in this kind of war-footing, this counterterrorism enterprise that went on for decades or you’re not. I think it was very divisive.”

It’s extraordinary how the liberal media so routinely rush to find America guilty, even in the wake of thousands being brutally murdered. In their warped minds, is the U.S. ever justified to fight back against its enemies?

The outrageous 9/11 20th anniversary coverage was brought to MSNBC viewers by Safelite and brought to CNN viewers by Fidelity. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a transcript of excerpts from the September 10 segment on Morning Joe:

6:50 AM ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Our next guest says 9/11 was a test and the books of the last two decades show how America failed. Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada, joins us now. Ahead of the 20th anniversary, he read and re-read 21 books about 9/11 and America’s response to the attacks. And Carlos, what you wrote, in summation, was extraordinary. A lot of failings.

(…)

SCARBOROUGH: Carlos, on this 20-year anniversary, it’s so important that our leaders, whether in politics or whether they’re thought leaders, reflect on the 20 years, what we’ve gotten right and what we’ve gotten wrong. It’s so important to look back and figure out, as you said, what parts of the test we failed. You re-read these 21 books, so many of them so important. What was your great takeaway, or your takeaways, from what we got wrong over the past 20 years?

CARLOS LOZADA: The test of 9/11 that I write about in the essay you mentioned is whether we could respond to this horrifying assault on America and still be America, still uphold the values that we profess. The very values that our leaders told us were the reason behind the attacks. Remember President Bush, on the night of 9/11, said the reason we were targeted was because of our values, because we stand for freedom and openness and opportunity and democracy and the rule of law.

Yet in our prosecution of the war on terror, we didn’t always display those highest values. We sometimes revealed some of our lowest impulses, whether that was deception or brutality or overreach or even delusion. You know, we entered an unnecessary war in Iraq, turned a war of liberation into a war of occupation there, we prolonged the war in Afghanistan by being less than forthcoming about how that war was progressing, as my colleague Craig Whitlock has chronicled in his book, The Afghanistan Papers. We engaged in the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, as chronicled in the Senate torture report. The irony is that after spending so many years attempting to spread democracy around the world, democracy at home feels weakened. And the same building that Al Qaeda attempted to strike on September 11, 2001 and failed to, the U.S. Capitol building, was assaulted by our own citizens 20 years later.

(…)

LOZADA: I mean, the overarching test that we passed, that we did not fail, is that there was not a second 9/11-scale terrorist attack in the United States. And that’s an enormous success. The one note of – the one caveat I would add to that, though, is that on 9/11 and that evening – you know, Andrew Card just mentioned the President’s speech that night. He didn’t just say that the job of the United States was now to protect American citizens, he said it was to protect the American way of life and those American values. And I think in that regard, perhaps, we were somewhat less successful.

(…)

SCARBOROUGH: You know, Carlos, you’re so right. It is extraordinary what has been accomplished over the past 20 years as far as stopping another 9/11-type attack, scale attack on this country. I want to go back to lessons we can learn. If somebody is watching today, and I know we have a lot of people in Washington that watch the show, who’s in power, if God forbid we have another attack like this. Let’s look back over the past 20 years, where we came up short on values, contextualize it to – like for instance, the Sedition Act of 1918 during World War I, where you actually had a law that said you could get arrested to saying anything disloyal to the government. The internment camps in World War II, 20 years of lies during Vietnam from leaders on all sides. What do we do if we’re faced with another attack, if we’re faced with another large-scale war, to hopefully not keep repeating these same mistakes?

LOZADA: I think one of the overriding lessons is that sometimes underestimating threats ahead of time leads to overreacting to them after the fact. And, you know, on that evening of 9/11, President Bush said, look, we’re the brightest beacon for freedom in the world and no one, no enemy can keep that light from shining. And he’s right in the sense that Al Qaeda was not what dimmed America’s promise. We, in some ways, did that to ourselves. And I think trying to get a handle on that kind of, you know, fervor and blood lust that comes in the initial aftermath of an attack and trying to think through long term on the potential consequences of our response to the attack is – is vital.

(…)

WILLIE GEIST: Hey, Carlos, it’s Willie Geist, I’m at Ground Zero this morning. I’m interested in your view on a question we were just discussing with Joe and Jeh Johnson, and that is the country we live in today, many of those books you’re reading and you write about so well, in some ways are to the story of a different country in terms of how divided we are. So if God forbid we ever encountered a moment like that, how different would the lessons be? How would we apply those lessons to a country where reflexively so many people would object to whatever the President says or does because of the party he’s in or whatever a member of Congress says or does because of the party he or she is in? How different are we today than we were 20 years ago?

LOZADA: I think that’s a great point. And I think if you look at 9/11 at one point and 2021 in another, it certainly looks like a different place. But I think that in many ways, these things happen incrementally. There is some continuity, I think, as well as disruption. And in many ways, the legacy of the war on terror is the country that we’ve become today. You know, it’s hard to imagine a political candidate coming to power on the strength of the birtherism lie, by denigrating the sitting president as foreign and illegitimate, you know, absent the war on terror. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine a travel ban against Muslim-majority countries. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine domestic protesters being denigrated as terrorists. Absent the war on terror, it’s hard to imagine DHS, which of course didn’t exist, you know, shifting from an anti-terrorism organization to an anti-immigrant organization. And so I think we’ve seen a lot of kind of gradual encroachment and continuity in the world that 9/11 wrought, into what we have become today.

SCARBOROUGH: Alright, Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada, thank you so much. We greatly appreciate you being here, appreciate your time.

Here is a transcript of the segment on New Day:

7:29 AM ET

(…)

JOHN BERMAN: David, in September 11th – on September 11th, you were traveling with President Bush in Florida. You know, you were there that day. I was reading some of your thoughts on September 11th and what’s happened in the 20 years since. And what I find so interesting and I think you hit on is we have such a knee-jerk tendency to say, “Oh, that was the moment when the whole country came together,” which is true for a second, right, but I think you point out that over time it was also the beginning of some divisions that really still stand.

DAVID GREGORY: Yeah, I mean, we were just talking about Trump. I think that sense of vulnerability, the sense that we are under attack, that there’s forces out there that are meant to hurt us, I think that came into sharp relief that day. And I think there’s a through line between that and Donald Trump. You know, where our politics kept evolving and degenerating to the point where a political force like Trump could say, “This person’s out to get you. This person will hurt our way of life. You know, watch out for the Mexicans and the immigrants and, of course, the Muslims, and then the Chinese.” All of that really began out of the ashes of 9/11.

And I think that there was just this hardening of our partisanship that emerged out of that time. I think it was building, really, back into the ’80s. But I think 9/11 hardened – I think about questions like, who’s a real patriot? Right, I mean, you see echos of this now, over the question of freedom and the vaccine. Well, the question then was, who’s a patriot? You know, you’re with us or against us. That was a charge by Bush, you know, to our allies around the world. But that was true internally as well. Like you’re either on board in this kind of war-footing, this counterterrorism enterprise that went on for decades or you’re not. I think it was very divisive.

BRIANNA KEILAR: What do you think the lesson is, with the benefit of hindsight now, looking back when America is hit the way it was, a victim, yes, of 9/11, and then the question of, okay, well what do you do in response? What do you do? Who is it going to hurt? Who is it going to help? We now have 20 years of war behind us to look at that question. We also have, like you said, unity except if you were say a Sheikh American or a Muslim American, you say, “I sure didn’t feel safer or more unified.” What’s the lesson?

GREGORY: You know, I think what countries and particularly governments do when they’re scared is often not very pretty with the benefit of hindsight. You know, during the Civil War, suspending habeas corpus for Confederate soldiers that Lincoln did. And the internment of the Japanese, I mean, these are ugly episodes in our history. And I think whether it was Abu Ghraib or whether it was torture – which in many cases did not work, still debated by some – of those suspected terrorists. I think those things have a real impact.

And you know, we have to weigh – look, we have not been hit again. And that was something that the President said – President Bush at the time – would be very important. He also said if we take the fight to them, we won’t have to fight here. That has largely been true. But at what cost? You know, to our politics, to the fact that people don’t believe in institutions anymore. By the way, the splintering of the media was a big by-product of all of this. That was happening beforehand. That had a real impact on the legacy of 9/11, I think, 20 years later.

But you know, all of those things, that lack of trust in – whether it’s media or government to be competent and to do things. You know, fighting two big wars to at best a draw leads to all kinds of thoughts about, well, what is America? What influence does it have around the globe? It has a lot by the way, but all of those things, I think, have hurt our politics and hurt our ability to deal with big things like a pandemic, like climate change. I think we struggle right now as a country to meet a big threat.

And I think the one thing that President Bush understood – and, John, you remember this – when he began his presidency, was he says the president has political capital, only so much political capital. He drew all of that down and he lost it in the course of Iraq as well. Government, as a general matter, only has so much capital. And I think we’ve seen the diminution of that capital over these couple decades.

KEILAR: Look, it’s a logical time, 20 years out from 9/11, to have some reflection, some lessons learned, right?

GREGORY: Yeah.

KEILAR: I think that’s sort of a period that we’re in right now. David, thank you so much.

GREGORY: Thanks.

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