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Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Anniversary Post

Well we just passed the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks and it looks like nothing else got blown up, so that's good. I spent the day avoiding any coverage of the remembrances. I remember that day all too well, thank you very much, and what I mostly remember is that it was a goddamned tragedy. There is a fine line between commemorating an event and celebrating it, and I didn't watch the TeeVee because I didn't want to see anything that crossed that line.

But I think they pull your license if you are an American blogger and you don't mention 9/11 on its 10-year anniversary, so I thought I'd write about something tangentially related that bugs the hell out of me: am I the only person who thinks that our pre-9/11 history is being rewritten to make that goddamned day even more important than it already is?

Via Steve Benen over at The Washington Post I see that GOP pollster and professional propagandist Frank Luntz was chatting with Fox's Neil Cavuto:
[I]n the end, it is about who we are as a country and who we are as a people. I have to tell you, this essence of America being safe and secure is so important to our culture. It is important to American exceptional [sic]. It plays into our psyche.

* * *

But in this end, it reminds us that we are vulnerable and that hurts our confidence. (emphasis added)
Really? Being safe and secure is the "essence of America"? Huh. See, I was raised on the myth that we were all a bunch of rugged individualists, that we were frontiersmen, cowboys, astronauts. I thought we were a bunch of kickass bad dudes who took risks and scorned safety. Shit! We're the country that turned Jackass - a show about a bunch of idiot dudes doing stupid, dangerous things - into a hit series and two wildly profitable films.

But now I'm being told the American essence is "safety"? I'm sorry, I must be getting my mythologies mixed up.

I ran those Luntz quotes by a buddy of mine and he gave me another example of this phenomenon. It seems he had been watching Behind the Lines on ESPN earlier today and they were interviewing one of New York's pro football coaches (he told me who it was, but I forget the name now). He told me the coach was asked what his first reaction was 10 years ago when the attacks occurred and that the coach said something like: "My first thought was that we were no longer safe in America. Up until then we had all taken our safety for granted, but now that was taken away from us."

What. The. Fuck.

I remember what America was like before the 9/11 attacks -- it was a lot like it is now. We were constantly being told that we were supposed to be afraid of something, that we could die in our sleep or the moment we stepped outside our house. Hell! Remember "the Summer of the Shark"? That was the summer of 2001! We were told to be afraid to go to the beach!

And before that we were told to be afraid of serial killers, child molesters, date rapists, regular rapists, carjackers, home invaders, radon, gang members, crackheads, rap music, the internet, ecstacy, marijuana, cult members, restless leg syndrome, and killer bees. The American media was a non-stop fearscape!

But now we're supposed to believe that we were all comfortably living in a safe, white-bread suburban world until 9/11 came along and scared us straight?

No. I was there and that's not how it played out. We had already been taught to be afraid, 9/11 just gave us something to be stupidly afraid of.

* * *

Which wouldn't really bug me, except for the fact this new rewriting of history only serves to magnify what a group of religious zealots managed to pull off ten years ago today, and makes what they accomplished that day seem more important than it already is.

To my way of thinking, the United States should have been a big enough, strong enough, resilient enough country to take the 9/11 tragedy, internalize it, and then shake it off like a bad case of fleas and move on to building a bigger and better future for itself. Telling ourselves over and over again that 9/11 "changed everything" and "fundamentally altered the way we see ourselves" just makes us look weak and makes those idiots seem powerful. It lets those murdering dipshits define who we are now.

And that would be bad enough, were any of it true. But it's not -- it's a lie. And I resent being spoon-fed lies intended to make more important a day that already has claimed too much of my nation's waking life.

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