Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Give up the 9/11 Mythology

Typically, nobody makes a big deal about an eleventh anniversary. Last year, I put up a post on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. My great and good friend Ned, whose "9/11 connection" was so much more intimate than mine (I was at work, about twenty miles north of Manhattan, on that morning, but the plume of smoke and debris was visible from my Yonkers home, just north of the city) always puts up a post discussing the attacks from an engineering standpoint and links to a heartrending piece written by a friend of his.

This year, I'm not going to be nice. The American right-wing has been pimping the 9/11 tragedy since day one- after the attacks, Congress (shamefully, in a display of bipartisanship) passed laws injurious to civil liberties, the administration ginned up a war against a nation which hadn't attacked us, and political hacks accused liberals of being soft on terrorism. The American Taliban and conservative hacks blamed the attacks on the liberal mores generally regarded as characteristic of New York. A large portion of the country lost its mind after 9/11... notably, most New Yorkers did not- the typical response in the immediate aftermath of the attacks was to head to the blood bank to donate (sadly, unneeded) blood. While most New Yorkers wanted Bin Laden's head on a pike, there was widespread sentiment against the invasion of Iraq, and the general sentiment regarding the war was "not in our name."

The outgoing mayor of New York, whose visibility on 9/11 was due to his foolishness in locating his Office of Emergency Management in a vicinity previously targeted by terrorists, made his subsequent career running off of his undeserved reputation as a security expert (famously skewered by Joe Biden), and his now-imprisoned right-hand man almost got the nod as the director of the Department of Homeland Security (as an aside, I don't think I'm the only one creeped out by the use of the term "homeland" in a non-ironic sense, I'd never heard it applied to the U.S. before the Bush maladministration).

The post-9/11 milieu was characterized by "security theater"- I call it "securitism". I first clued in to the B.S. nature of it all when I took the 1 train from 238th St in the Bronx, where there was absolutely no security procedure in place, to Times Square Station, which was crawling with heavily-armed police and national guard, where most of the entrances (and, as those familiar with the subway system know, exits) were locked. Yeah, anybody could have gotten into Times Square Station with a bomb, but getting out of the station post-disaster would have been extremely difficult. Much of this security theater is unnecessary, but a passel of well-connected hacks have been making big bucks off the "new normal". As the decade progressed, and the responses became stupider and more brutal, I felt myself more of a New Yorker, but less of an American. My love of the city grew simultaneously with my distrust of the direction the country was headed in.

Even now, eleven years later, the right-wing lunacy about 9/11 persists- some say that the annual 9/11 commemoration is not religious enough (even though the 9/11 attackers were largely motivated by religion) and a not-insignificant minority of Republicans credit Mitt Romney for the death of Bin Laden. Give it up, right wingers, 9/11 happened on your watch, and you failed to get the main plotter behind the attacks. You blew it, the entire failure of our national security apparatus is your fault. To compound your failure, you blocked the act which would have provided health care for the first responders you love to be photographed with. Don't try to use 9/11 as a political cudgel against liberals, you lost any credibility long ago.

Postscript: Oh, and people in the Heartland, enough of the 9/11 kitsch. Sure, we know you mean well, but knock it off. The real tragedy if 9/11 is ongoing- it manifests itself in empty seats at tables, cancer-stricken cops, firefighters, construction workers, EMT's, orphaned children, widowed spouses, familiar voices silenced. Please, come and visit, but be sober and reflective.

18 comments:

Another Kiwi said...

Respect for BBBB, well said old chap.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...
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zombie rotten mcdonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nedbeaumontjr said...

I just left a note on your rump(roast).

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

What about people in the Heartland™ who were on 22nd and B'way on 9-11?

Ah never mind.

P.S. Certainly the right-wing has used and abused this tragedy, but let's remember that the Bush-Cheney USA PATRIOT Act is now the Bush-Cheney-Obama USA PATRIOT Act.
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mikey said...

Here's the thing - I'll try to keep this under 800 words - but it really comes down to this: Americans do not have any institutional, generational or visceral understanding of war. So we piss off a bunch of religious fundies and they mount a surprisingly complex and effective attack that we utterly fail to prevent due to hubris and lack of focus. Some pretty significant buildings get wrecked and three thousand people get killed. That's bad.

But c'mon. A little perspective here. People in Aleppo, Grozny, Mogadishu, Faluja, Seoul, London, Paris, Prague, Leningrad, Tokyo - the list going back just three generations is endless - have suffered the kind of slaughter, destruction, sickness, starvation and brutality that we cannot imagine. I mean that literally - we cannot actually understand in our imaginations what this kind of modern, mechanized, three dimensional, endless war in our cities and towns and neighborhoods and HOMES means to people, families and communities. Oh, we like our movies and we like our guns and we like our sense that might makes right, but our butthurt over 9/11 now more than a decade after the fact is ludicrous. That's a bad week in Syria, a few hours of unimaginable horror in Rwanda, a millisecond in Hiroshima. People all over the world know the fear and intimidation of soldiers killing each other in their front yard, raping their daughters and sisters, stealing their stuff and offering, at best, the chance to live to see the sun come up tomorrow.

We bring this technological horror show to bear without any understanding of what it means to the people who bear the brunt. And we continue to suffer and shake and fear and hate over one attack that generated three thousand KIA eleven years ago. Times are changing, and I can promise you that war and fire and death is coming to our blessedly isolated continent, but the lessons to be learned in the hard crucible of heartless brutality might ultimately make us a better people.

Because right now? We're the thugs, the gang doing all the crime...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...
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zombie rotten mcdonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nedbeaumontjr said...

We know you're Americans out there. The point is that we are continually told that we're not. Not "real" Americans, not Americans at all. Until 9-11 happens and suddenly every shitkicker is acting like he cares about us as opposed to caring that he had an excuse to go blow up some Cary brown people.

Laura said...

Well, since I'm not an American (hmmm.. I AM a North American though), and don't follow a lot of this stuff, I don't really feel qualified to comment.

I can remember being pregnant with Gabby and thinking to myself that I was crazy to bring another life into this world with all of the crap going down. That only lasted for the day though. Then I was happy to be pregnant again after that. :)

((Hugs))
Laura

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


UPDATE 2. It's redundant at this point to say comments are great, but here's a taste: Big Bad Bald Bastard tells our subjects, "To paraphrase Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction, 'You've lost your 9/11 privileges";


WooHoo! (At Roy's.)
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ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

both sides are equivalent,

Are you saying that the USA PATRIOT Act is not equivalent now, zrm?

Has that horrible piece of shit suddenly become acceptable because Obama demanded that it be renewed with all its crappiest provisions intact?

Didn't we all vote to END THIS SHIT, and not go, "Oh, it's o.k. when our guy does it!"
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zombie rotten mcdonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I am not even gonna bother anymore.

Way to misconstrue what I said.

vacuumslayer said...

Thank you for this, and Amen.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Respect for BBBB, well said old chap.

Thanks, old chum!

I just left a note on your rump(roast).

That'll leave a mark! Thanks.

What about people in the Heartland™ who were on 22nd and B'way on 9-11?

Weren't you born in D.C.? You lived in NYC for a long time... you're one of us East Coast types, old chum!

But c'mon. A little perspective here. People in Aleppo, Grozny, Mogadishu, Faluja, Seoul, London, Paris, Prague, Leningrad, Tokyo - the list going back just three generations is endless - have suffered the kind of slaughter, destruction, sickness, starvation and brutality that we cannot imagine

Yeah, that's certainly true... we really have been lucky as hell.

We know you're Americans out there. The point is that we are continually told that we're not. Not "real" Americans, not Americans at all. Until 9-11 happens and suddenly every shitkicker is acting like he cares about us as opposed to caring that he had an excuse to go blow up some Cary brown people.

Yeah, and then they claim that the wars they support are in our name, even though a good portion of us don't support them, and we overwhelmingly vote against the assholes who are claiming to work on our behalf.

Well, since I'm not an American (hmmm.. I AM a North American though), and don't follow a lot of this stuff, I don't really feel qualified to comment.

Your comments are always welcome, but you know that.

Didn't we all vote to END THIS SHIT, and not go, "Oh, it's o.k. when our guy does it!"

Obama's been a disappointment, but Romney would be a disaster. I'll stick with the Kenyan Devil Baby I know, rather than the Sociopatich Helmet-Haired Smirking Devil I don't (nobody does).

I am not even gonna bother anymore.

You didn't have to delete your comments. Oh, and as for getting out of the "enclave", I've traveled cross-country twice, and have seen much of the contiguous 48. I've even been to your homeland four times (I rate for the Baraboo cheese pavillion). It's been a while since I've left the northeast, but I've been through the Heartland. The point I tried to get across is that my love for my wounded city grew, but the not-so-slow-dawning realization that the administration was going insane led me to be increasingly alienated from much of the country.

Thank you for this, and Amen.

I didn't know you were the praying type!

Substance McGravitas said...

As the decade progressed, and the responses became stupider and more brutal, I felt myself more of a New Yorker, but less of an American. My love of the city grew simultaneously with my distrust of the direction the country was headed in.

After my first few times in NY I started wondering why there wasn't some kind of separatist movement. And of course it's way worse now.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Obama's been a disappointment, but Romney would be a disaster. I'll stick with the Kenyan Devil Baby I know, rather than the Sociopatich Helmet-Haired Smirking Devil I don't (nobody does).

Haven't you noticed the good cop/bad cop routine, B^4?

The "centrist" Democratic candidate adopts the program of last cycle's Republican (for instance, the USA PATRIOT Act, and cutting Medicare and Social Security to pay for wars for rich people, tax cuts for rich people, and bailouts for rich people.)

Then the Republican adopts even more extreme right-wing policies, for product differentiation purposes (or to make the rich richer, basically).

Next cycle, rinse and repeat. How does it ever stop, if we don't demand minimal interest in our interests? Note: rhetoric alone doesn't mean squat. The Bush-Cheney tax cuts, for instance, are now the Bush-Cheney-Obama tax cuts.
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