So it’s 9/11 again…
Actually, it isn’t. When we talk about “9/11” we mean September 11, 2001. Today, however, is September 11, 2010. This 9/11 isn’t really The 9/11. The only relationship between today and the 9/11 that happened 3277 days ago is due to our calendar, which is related to the Earth’s position in its orbit around the Sun, which we only really care about because the Earth’s inclination causes seasons that affect our lives. In other words, it’s all in our heads.
I gather Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have some sort of rally going on today. Beck claims the date is a coincidence, just like his rally at the Lincoln memorial on the annivarsary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech was a coincidence. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one, since 8/28 isn’t as well-known a date as 9/11, but now that he’s used the same excuse twice, I have to assume he was lying both times.
As you’d expect, the usual opposition are accusing Beck and Palin of “sucking the blood from the World Trade Center dead, or otherwise trying to cash-in on the date. I’m pretty sure that’s more or less what they have in mind, but I don’t care. 9/11 was nine years ago. Today is a whole new day.
I felt the same about the claim that Beck was trying to “take over” the Martin Luther King dream speech. The “dream” speech was 47 years ago. Beck and his rally can’t lay a hand on it. Besides, Glenn Beck is an insignificant insect compared to Doctor King. He has no chance of taking anything over.
I’m not exacly sure what point I’m trying to make here. I guess the main one is that, for me, 9/11 is now just history. The anniversary doesn’t feel significant anymore. I no longer experience that mental shock when I see the twin towers in an old movie. I can think about the events of that day without reliving the searing emotions. I’m really only writing about it because everybody else is.
I’m over it.
I realize that not everybody is so lucky. I wasn’t there. I didn’t lose anybody. Some people took it a lot harder than I did. Some people lost loved ones, or worked in the destroyed buildings, and have had their lives changed forever. Other people were just, for one reason or another, closer to it than I was, and it’s still a living reality for them. Some people, for no particular reason, just aren’t past it yet.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I hope they find the peace they need.
But I resent the accusation — usually implied but sometimes explicit, and often offered by pundits and demagogues — that there’s something wrong with people who feel like I do. I haven’t forgotten 9/11, but there’s a difference between remembering 9/11 and wallowing in the glorious pain.
When the towers were burning, it got so bad for the people trapped above the fire floors that some of them were forced to jump to their deaths. The media had pictures of this, and they showed a bunch of them for a while. But within a day or two, perhaps deciding it was a little too exploitive, they stopped showing the jumpers.
This outraged some people in the blogosphere. Apparently, they weren’t satisfied with all the news stations showing us over and over again how the planes hit the towers and exploded into angry fireballs of burning jet fuel. And they weren’t satisfied with all the footage of the towers collapsing into giant dust clouds.
No, they wanted to see as much death as possible. And they accused the news media of trying to whitewash 9/11, of trying to hide from the American people the full horror of What They Did To Us.
I don’t know why us humans experience fear and anger — I suspect we evolved them because they help us to focus our attention and rally our personal resources — but here’s one thing I do know: People who try to make you feel fear or anger are trying to manipulate you.
Almost every provision of the Patriot Act had been proposed months or years before by some government agency and shot down by Congress as unwise. But after 9/11, politicians were afraid to say no to anything that might be justified as making us safer. It was a huge power grab by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Shortly thereafter, the passenger screening function at airports was taken over from private companies by the Transportation Security Agency. They immediately hired all the same people to do the job, but now they are government employees, more intrusive, and less accountable. Now instead of looking for threats to air travel, they’re conducting warrantless searches for drugs and stolen checks, and they’re retaliating with heavier searches against people who complain.
Even today, we’ve got Beck and Palin trying to rally people around 9/11, and there are demagogues trying to stir up fear and outrage over land use issues in lower Manhattan.
I’m sure there are plenty of people of good will who have stronger feelings about 9/11 than I do, and I’m sure some of them are genuinely mystified that I’m not as angry as they are. All I can say to them is that I have moved on. But if they will refrain from accusing me of forgetting 9/11, I’ll refrain from accusing them of being manipulative fearmongers.
As for the actual demagogues who want us all to be angrier so we’ll support their agenda, here’s my anger: Go fuck yourselves.