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The numbers 9/11 were already a clich? by noon Sept. 11.
Everyone on the bright side of Rosie O’Donnell knew right away the attacks that awful day had changed life in America forever. A month later, America is already a different place.
Overseas, bombs are falling. On the home front, we are standing in lines for hours like sheep at airports, imagining truck bombs in every car tunnel and looking out for love letters laced with anthrax.
We no longer want to watch “Die Hard” movies or fly to Cancun – or anywhere else – this winter. It’s pretty clear that, for now, the world’s only superpower pretty much just wants to stay home this winter and watch “I Love Lucy” reruns.
But how will 9/11 change our perceptions about peace and war in the long run? No one can possibly know for sure yet, least of all the 24 historians, economists, psychologists, sociologists and public opinion gurus that American Demographics rounded up for its black-draped October issue.
Interviews with the likes of pollsters George Gallup, Jr., and TV shrink Dr. Joyce Brothers were conducted immediately after Sept. 11. Most of the 24 people interviewed are not widely known, however, and much of what they have to say is predictably obvious.
Pollster John Zogby says Sept. 11 will affect everyone culturally and politically for the rest of their lives – especially young people, the way Pearl Harbor and JFK’s assassination did. Pollster Daniel Yankelovich sees civil liberties being infringed.
Gallup is upbeat. He thinks 9/11 will “spur voluntarism, build up the blood banks, cause people to think more globally, and it will cause people, ironically, to be more tolerant of others.”
More out-of-the-box is Chris Ertel, a demographer and a futurist. He says “We will need to accept that we all have some responsibility for our own protection.” We can’t look for Big Protector to save us, we have to do it ourselves through what he calls “positive vigilantism.”
And the always quotable demigod of business management, Tom Peters, says Sept. 11 was “a wake-up call” for a “shockingly complacent and arrogant” superpower with “a hopelessly unprepared” military who’s being threatened by a “small people and small state.”
That ties in with the not-so-wild thoughts of Forbes’ publisher Rich Karlgaard, who writes in Forbes’ “Life During Wartime” issue that 9/11 has sped up an important 44-year-old world trend – the replacement of top-down, centralized management with decentralization.
Osama and his global network, he points out, are following the Silicon Valley model of decentralization and disruption. It’s the same, bottoms-up, American-made model that killed computer monoliths like Digital, gave us Apple and Microsoft and made the Soviet Union an ex-super-power.
Osama, Karlgaard says, is like a venture capitalist whose lean/mean/efficient machine of mass murder and terror attracts insanely dedicated followers/workers. He’s attacking America the monolith from below and using decentralized techniques any good entrepreneur would envy.
Karlgaard thinks America will prevail over Osama in the long run, because “more people in the world want our lifestyle.” But because “crazy and scattered entrepreneurs have beaten the crap out of monoliths for 44 years in almost every field” he can think of, he admits he’s a little nervous.