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Jewish World Review Sept. 6, 2002 / 29 Elul, 5762

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Rating the 9-11 mags | The Pennysaver hasn't come out with a commemorative issue yet. The October Teen People appears to be 9-11 free.

But everywhere else you look, this week and probably next, it's going to be 9-11. No newspaper, no news magazine, no serious think magazine can dare to let the first anniversary of the biggest, most heavily covered news event of our lives pass unnoticed.

Newsweek, Time and a special commemorative issue by U.S. News & World Report mark 9-11 by concentrating on the past year and focusing almost exclusively on where the most powerful stories and most horrific pictures were - the World Trade Center and New York City.

Maybe next week we'll look to the future and get more stuff about the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

But for now, Time and Newsweek offer scads of profiles of important or everyday people whose lives were affected by 9-11, plus amazing survivor stories, photos and dueling essays about how 9-11 did or did not change us as a people.

Newsweek, sad to say, contains nothing memorable. U.S. News' effort, "A Nation Changed," is OK. Time's package, by far, outshines both. Its editors obviously thought longer, harder and smarter, and they have Nancy Gibbs, the best rewrite person in the biz.

Meanwhile, this week's New Yorker is the style issue, so it must be saving its 9-11 extravaganza for next week. But Harper's offers "One Year Later," one of its trademark essays - impenetrable, metaphor-dense and multi-pointed - that seems to scold America for thinking it's so special.

Reason magazine, ever faithful to its pursuit of free minds and free markets, offers "What Price Safety?: Security and Freedom in an Age of Fear." Its four parts include editor Nick Gillespie's warning that in the War on Terror we're trading freedom for security, and getting less of both.

In the "Did 9-11 change us?" department, The Weekly Standard offers "Year One - We Didn't Change at All" by the frighteningly persuasive Charles Krauthhammer.

He says it didn't change us a drop. We're the same old goofy, vulgar, farcical, smart-ass, productive, resourceful, brave, smart and above-all resilient folks we've always been - as evidence, everything from the advent of the Osbournes to the new form of 21st-century warfare we took to so well in Afghanistan.

Over at the once-influential but now invisible New Republic, one piece whines that 9-11 hasn't transformed every other American into a fiendish foreign-policy expert on the Pakistani-Indian struggle over Kashmir, as if it would matter.

Far better is literary editor Leon Wieseltier's essay about the difference between the unreal reality of Sept. 11 and "September 11," the media-made remembrance of it.

Wieseltier's piece is riddled with savvy sarcasm and perceptive sentences such as, "It was a measure of the horror (of 9-11) that the media were too weak to interfere with our consciousness of it."

And, after a national week of 9-11 rehashing, we'll know what he meant when he predicted that "The bathos of Aaron Brown and Diane Sawyer and Peter Jennings and Barbara Walters, the moistening eyes and the bitten lips and the plangent sighs, the slumming with the ordinary folk, will be very hard to take."

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
08/02/02: It's not the humidity, it's the (media) heat wave; the death of American cities
07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald