Thursday, September 11, 2008


It was seven years ago today, nearly to the moment that I am writing this. I was living in Washington, DC, every bit as much a terrorist target as the Twin Towers were that day, and probably more likely to experience future attacks than any city or region in the United States. I spent most of the day at an ex-girlfriend's house, as her sister was in downtown Manhattan not far from the towers and naturally between that and the myriad rumors of what might be yet to come she was a bit overwhelmed.

Every so often you'll hear someone indignantly proclaim that we have all forgotten about 9/11 and what it meant. When someone blurts that empty declaration I simply wait for the other shoe to drop: What is about to follow is an ideological assertion about what must or must not be done, and those who refuse to follow the prescription thus become implicitly attached to coddlers and appeasers.

In the weeks after 9/11 a false harmony prevailed as the result of the attacks and gaudy flag stickers and t-shirt slogans took the place of both dialogue and debate. And before long some politicians were using 9/11 as a cudgel, dishonoring the memories of those who perished on that day, of those who lost loved ones, and questioning the patriotism of all who ventured to question policies stemming from what had become an earnest but poorly conceived "War on Terror." The inane color-coded terrorism warning spectrum miraculously ratcheted up a notch in 2004 whenever it was electorally convenient, Fargo suddenly in as dire danger as Washington, Texarkana as likely to face imminent destruction as New York. Soon they took our water bottles on the way into sweltering stadia, though they'd happily sell us terror-proof Ozarka for just $4 once we got inside.

I'm sure we'll hear a fresh round of hand-wringing "why have we forgotten 9/11?" assertions as we commemorate what went down on that horrible day seven years ago. But we have not forgotten. Our lives have gone on, just as lives go on after any catastrophe. 9/11 may be frozen in amber in the mind's eye, but it is not frozen in the way that the commemoration fetishists would like for us to believe so that we follow their agendas. Moving on is part of the process of healing, and, paradoxically, of remembering. We are allowed to do that and we must be able to do so without fear of recrimination from the self-righteous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously, 11/9 was a very bad day, but because of those American dead, many more woud die in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just Americans, but because of that war, British, Polish, men from nearly all Nato countries lost men. This is not taking into account the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who have died in Iraq. Has Bush got is revenge yet? 2974 dead Americans, is over 300000 dead Iraqis revenge enough? it shouldnt be, as Iraq were not even behind the attacks, the Taliban and Al'Qaeda were to blame, and yes, the Nato nations, primaraly britain and usa entered the war in afghanistan, and it was a just war. however, iraq was not. however, though i can not say toppling a dictator is a bad thing, but those many civilian deaths were not needed. if the majority of iraq actualy supports saddam, than how can hanging him, be giving iraq freedom?
i am fuly aware of the hype over 11/9, in ameirca, and for a time, it was in britain, with us having minutes of sience for it. however, it has aLl died down now, and the only time we pay respects to it is before a football game, where all the players are silent around the half way circle. The point i am making is that britain's attitude towards america has dropped. we only have soldiers in Basra airport, in iraq, and we are taking in the EU as our home, and not looking across the ocean. The unpopularity of america, because of the Iraq war also sped up the decline of great US - UK relations. Many US citizens died on 11/9, but so did Britons. Their deaths, i believe, resembled the death of our great relations, and the toppling of the towers, the toppling of the US nation as the dominant, unchalengably dominant, nation.