Home > Uncategorized > No Death Porn Celebrations For Me, Thank You

No Death Porn Celebrations For Me, Thank You

So, today’s the anniversary of 9/11, the day we will Never Forget™, and here is how I’m going to commemorate it:  by not thinking about it at all, as soon as I finish this piece.

Seriously, it was a bad and traumatic thing at the time, but what grew out of it was even worse.  I can still recall my first three thoughts on that morning 10 years ago, which were:  1)  Oh my god, those poor people, 2)  Sweet christ, you mean we’re going to have to deal with this with that buffoon in office (said buffoon was at that moment fleeing willy-nilly cross-country, in a display of strong & resolute leadership), and 3)  Fuck, now I’m gonna have to hear that Lee Greenwood piece of shit played in heavy rotation 24/7 for at least the next 6 months.

Those were my actual thoughts; I’ve never pretended to be a better person than I am.

My discomfort grew in the days, weeks, and months following.  I vividly recall being told to “go shopping” for the good of the nation; the false assurances of the then-head of the EPA, who told all the Ground Zero cleanup workers who are now either dead or struggling with chronic illnesses that there was nothing to worry about; and the shameless manipulation of illogical people’s fears, ala duct tape and plastic sheeting.  I feared for my sanity, but only because it seemed it might be impossible to remain sane in a country where insanity was the order of the day.

I recall wondering why it was that we were so eager to make sure that surviving families of those killed at the WTC were “compensated” with millions of dollars each, when our normal reaction (public-policy-wise, as a nation) is to tell those who lose a family member to an ordinary cause like an auto accident or illness to “tough it out” and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Don’t get me wrong:  I know the citizens of New York, and families who lost loved ones in the attacks, were deeply traumatized.  My point is that we could say the same of anyone who loses a loved one to any cause.  For them, our response is to cut Social Security survivor benefits and Medicaid.

And as the months unfolded, I watched in horror, though not much surprise, as the natural inclinations of the American public revealed themselves in a lust for blood, whether it was that of the guilty parties or not.  (We saw another manifestation of this at the Republican debate last week, when Rick Perry was loudly cheered by the crowd for being the killingest governor of them all.  Never mind that the evidence is strong that at least one of those he killed was innocent…which makes him a murderer.  We love those types in this country.)

Now, 10 years later, those who overreacted with misdirected aggression continue to insist that if they were wrong, it was “for the right reasons,” and those of us who pointed out at the time that they were wrong and about to drag us into a huge and costly mistake are still not to be taken seriously, because who can trust a bunch of pacifist hippies, hurr-hurr-hurr, amirite?  And the nation’s downwards spiral continues.

No, there’s nothing – aside from the memory of those lost – of value to remember here.  Just as we don’t typically commemorate the onset of an illness that leads to death, so we should also turn away from maudlin remembrances of an event that put the nation on the road to oblivion. 

Because, in some very important ways it did, and we’ve made the choice over and over and over again since then not to deviate from that path.

So, ignore the horseshit you’ll hear from media outlets hoping to score a ratings boost with talk about how the events of that day 10 years ago “united” us.  It didn’t unite us in any way that would do anyone any good.  If you want to see the event that tells the story of what America has really become, you have to look at early September 2005, when as thousands of our poorest and most helpless citizens were clinging to life in a flooded ruin of a city, our media spent the first few days – while grandmothers were still drowning in their attics – fretting about how some people were losing stuff to looters.  And that was before the “blame the victims” rightwing media swung into full gear and we were treated to endless blather about how pointing out the obvious, that federal relief was a fucking joke, was “playing the blame game.”

If you want to see what this country REALLY is, look there.  In the absence of some foreign other to blame, we lost no time turning the victims into the villains.  That’s who we really are.  And that’s nothing to celebrate.

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  1. harlana
    September 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Love this post! I share your sense of righteous indignation, I was one of this America-hating traitors who raged against the war. Everybody around me thought I was nuts

  2. pete
    September 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Yup. I was sort of fortunate in that I watched it happen from France, in French (which I don’t speak that well), while in the emotional turmoil of a terminally failing marriage, having already bought my solo ticket back to the US. I was so numb it never broke through my various emotionally protective mechanisms. Fortunately I was also smart enough not to say a damn thing to anyone back here about it, because what I had to say would not be heard and would only cause more pain. In October I was on the street silently protesting the bombing of Afghanistan; that, I am glad I did. Oh well. Pretty please with sugar on it, ‘Merca, can we get over it now?

  3. September 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Still raging here.

    Kudos for your finely wroughtessay.

    May I blogroll you?

    Suzan

  4. Big Bad Bald Bastard
    September 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I share your thoughts about the event’s aftermath. I lost friends in the attack and its aftermath, and the bombing of innocent people afterward did nothing to honor their memory.

    • jennofark
      September 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      To be clear, I mean no disrespect for those whose lives were lost in the attacks or as a result of them, whether that was because they were gulled into ill-advised military service or worked at cleaning up the WTC site, though I still find it puzzling that everyone in the country was throwing money at the survivors of this tragedy when we usually take the “you’re on your own” position. I wrote this before reading Krugman, and I must have been channeling him – he crystallizes my thoughts on this: the memory is poisoned by the shameless manipulation of public emotion for political ends that followed.

      My personal feeling is that as human beings we have a responsibility to seek, find, and use whatever good we can identify in horrible events. In this case, those events were made worse by the response to them we were encouraged to have. (I didn’t personally have those responses, but look at where we are…it matters not a whit to anything other than my conscience that I didn’t.) So…I have nothing but bad feelings about anything 9/11 related, and would like to see it belong only to those who actually lost someone.

  5. September 12, 2011 at 2:54 am

    It was refreshing to see that in the national conspiracy, or effort, to fill the Sunday comics with 9/11 tributes, there was one tribute that didn’t play by the rules.
    http://candorville.com/2011/09/11/goodnight-september-11/

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