Tomorrow is 9/11 again, and I am hoping that it will be a big one because it’s a round number. I am hoping it will be the first where a new tack is taken on the tragedy, one that is more realistic about the event, and respectful of the people who suffered true losses. This now would include those who were victims of the foolhardiness that came in the immediate years after the 2001 attack.
Going back to 2003, when I started blogging, I have always had something to say to commemorate those who suffered as a result of that day. Balanced with this, though, is a bit of an education about what the event really was.
I had some knucklehead on Facebook not like the fact that I point out that 9/11 was not a “tragedy for all of us!!!” but a tragedy that hit a small number of families (out of almost 300 million people) very hard. The overwhelming rest of us watched it on TV. Many of us in the New York metro area knew people who died in 9/11, and people who were hurt in 9/11. We now have the first responder crisis, concerning the men and women (but mostly men) who breathed in the toxic dust in the early days and weeks after the disaster. This is finally making big news, although I will tell you that an acquaintance in Somerville knew about this back in 2002. The government under George W. Bush was telling everyone that the air was fine. In fact, it was filled with particles that could burn your lungs out. Typical Southerner. They did the same thing with tobacco smoke.
This individual I dialogued with objected to the idea that 9/11 was mostly a tragedy for the 9/11 families, and that the rest of us were not part of their tragedy, even though it showed up on our TVs. He confused tragedy with being affected by a sad or terrible story. For him, being told a sad story is the same as experiencing tragedy. Then, I got told I was “no American” for not seeing it his way. Shit like that.
Oh, and there is this ritual where the people who think 9/11 needs to be reflected on differently are really just saying that we “need not remember 9/11 !!!!!” These are some of the biggest idiots. The damn thing was one big event of the 2000’s, along with Hurricane Katrina and the Christmas Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Well, who exactly would be forgetting something like that?
Talk about things forgotten: the 9/11 attacks were masterminded by a group of older men who recruited impressionable young Muslims through a warped interpretation of Islam. (Please consider this pattern, where older men in the shadows instigate strife using younger men as tools. Most wars happen this way.) They knew enough about America and our lax postwar security, that they hatched an awful scheme. They would appropriate large commercial aircraft and ram them into important buildings in suicide missions. Among the small band of 20, only four were told it was a suicide mission.
Terrorists had used aircraft as weapons before, as in Lockerbie (December 1988). They had bombed the World Trade Center before, in February 1993. This time, both things would be put together.
The horrible plan succeeded beyond their highest expectations. Not only did thousands die that day, the events let loose a torrent of hyper-emotional responses. A mysterious government official decided to take some weaponized anthrax and distribute it through the U.S. mail system to government officials. Several people died afterward. The government decided that civil liberties had to be curtailed, and that Muslim people in America were somewhat more suspect, even if they were just everyday Americans. We inserted our military into one lawless country in search of bin Laden, the mastermind.
The immediate responses might have been within the range of reasonable ones in late 2001. We know more now than we did. The problem was, once the with-us-or-with-them genie was let out, it was easy for manipulators to define the “us” and the “them” in ways that did not protect us, and sent us down clearly stupid avenues for which there were huge costs, and for which the ringleaders never paid the price for their stupid leadership.
[Update 9/11: I am watching the reading of names via the MSNBC website, here.]
[Update #2 9/11: I thought it was very well done. The organizers had a pair of survivors read the names of those who were killed that day. There is finally a nice memorial that also can serve as a grave site. The 9/11 families didn’t have that for such a long time. They put the names of those who died around the edge of square fountains. The fountains are where the old buildings had been. The names are done in Vietnam Memorial (Maya Lin) style, which is very popular. The groupings are based on which people were connected to the others. So it might be a father-and-son firefighter team, or people who worked on the same trading floor, or just friends.
Some of the readers added personal sentiments. A couple of survivors started in with the “fighting for our freedoms” fluff, but most people who spoke extemporaneously talked about the personal loss they experienced as a result of the horrible day. So the most talking, besides reading the names, was about how the survivors were affected and the emptiness and loss that they felt. It was done with a lot of class, which is great to see if you view the incident as one where these people were taken advantage of, for others’ agendas.
With a memorial complete, may the victims rest in peace, and may the survivors find some solace.]
[Update #3 9/11: I saw a lot of varied reporting today, and most of it respectful to the victims. Thankfully, there are now many others like myself who entertain the notion that we need to talk about America’s reaction in what a Japan Times’ editorial calls America’s “Lost Decade”, of which I count many features–the stupid war in Iraq, the post 9/11 emotionalism and overreactions, the inanity of things like “the best way to fight the terrorists is to go shopping!” or “the best way to fight this war on terror is tax cuts!!” The fact that it took 10 years to get bin Laden, and he was being harbored by mid-level officials of a supposed friend and ally. That people are even bringing these kind of topics in the context of 9/11 is progress. For many years, the stupid official line was unchallenged, and the victims were used for certain people’s political agendas.]