I finally took the time to view my recording of PBS Frontline’s poignant documentary about the spiritual questions raised in the shadow of the September 11 attacks. In typical fashion, the companion website is excellent. Its producer, director, and co-writer Helen Whitney, a self-described agnostic, acknowledges the complexity of issues she faced in approaching the issue:
The contentiousness of the debate among intellectuals and policy-makers made me apprehensive as well. Every day there seemed to be a new theory put forward by a swelling number of “experts.” Some of these voices were learned and informative. But others were part of what one of our consultants, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, describes as the “Yes, but” Brigade. Yes, it is terrible, but … this is due to American foreign policy; this is due to the Middle East tensions between Palestinians and Jews; this is due to the globalization drama; this is due to the envy of poor nations; these are the famous cultural wars; this is due to American imperialism, et cetera. Or if you are part of the Noam Chomsky or the Jerry Falwell brigades (which are remarkably similar in their analyses), it is because America itself is evil. And on and on.
For Monsignor Albacete, the search for political, economic, and diplomatic “explanations” was understandable but limited, and in some ways an escape that violated the complex reality of Sept. 11. “The terrorists’ attack was all these things, but it was also something new: a hatred for humanity, an attack on humanity itself. The question is not only, Why do they hate us so much? But, more important, Why do they hate so much?”