Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.



I write this with deep respect, but most of the people who died on 9/11 were not heroes. They were victims, and we should never forget that – or them – because there but for fortune went you or I. Many people behaved heroically that day and after: those who rushed the cockpit of Flight 93 over Shanksville; the first responders; the volunteers who came to the site in New York and put themselves at risk; and those who performed anonymous acts of bravery and kindness as they were trapped in their burning tombs. I think a lot about those people and the terrible horror of their last hours. By calling heroes those whose lives end tragically, often at the hands of bad people, we risk turning human beings who were murdered into icons . . . and turning 9/11itself into a day of national idolatry, rather than one of painful remembrance. We may not all be heroes, but we are all humans.

Writing this was made more difficult by yesterday’s events in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stephens, and three aides, were killed by a mob enraged over an anti-Islamic film made by a California real estate developer and promoted by Terry Jones, the Gainesville preacher who set off riots of his own when he threatened to publicly burn the Koran two years ago. Ambassador Stephens had knowingly put himself in harm’s way and was deeply respected in Libya for his knowledge and courage, both during the revolution and as ambassador. He was a hero.

Note: The rainfall map failed to load on yesterday’s emails. I apologize. . . but it does give me a chance to plug my website, www.jamesgblaine.com, where you will find it.

Beyond Benghazi

Oil, Food and Water