Friday, December 11, 2009


OK, this article is from December 1, but still. The piece is a New York Times op-ed discussing the similarities between John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry and 9/11. It seems a little stretched:
  • Brown was a bearded fundamentalist who believed himself chosen by God to destroy the institution of slavery.
  • [Brown] hoped to launch his holy war by seizing the United States armory at Harpers Ferry, Va., and arming blacks for a campaign of liberation.
  • Brown also chose his target for shock value and symbolic impact.
  • Brown’s strike force was similar in size and make-up to that of the 9/11 hijackers. He led 21 men, all but two in their 20s, and many of them radicalized by guerrilla fighting in Bleeding Kansas, the abolitionists’ Afghanistan.
  • Brown also relied on covert backers — not oil-rich Saudis, but prominent Yankees known as the Secret Six. Brown used aliases and coded language and gathered his men at a mountain hideout.
  • [L]ike the 9/11 bombers, Brown’s men were indiscreet, disclosing their plan to family and sweethearts. A letter warning of the plot even reached the secretary of war. It arrived in August, the scheme seemed outlandish, and the warning was ignored.
  • Brown and his men were prepared to die, and most did, in what quickly became a suicide mission.
The "similarities" are pretty vague. Bin Laden has a beard, John Brown had a beard! Other people with beards include Paul Bunyan, Bruce Sutter, and the bearded lady. Hmmm. Both bin Laden and John Brown chose symbolically significant targets! What were they thinking?!? Who EVER would have considered this? I mean, sure in 1814 the Brits burned Washington based on the value of the symbolism. But who else would do this? And so on. And so on.