Monday, September 09, 2002

September Bloody Eleventh

I find it truly amazing how people have a need to romanticize and beschmaltz the tragedy of a year ago this Wednesday. Perhaps I don't have the wiring to "get" the need for "closure," the need to sing, soulful and teary-eyed, as I sway and mourn with two hundred thirty million of my closest friends.

On the other hand, I didn't personally lose anyone in the attacks. I had two relatives in New York City on that day; both survived without injury, though one has left the city for good, as the pain from witnessing everything from less than a block away was too much for her. No problem. People for whom this was a nextdoor thing, or who lost someone dear to them, are not the target of this rant.

Thirty-two hundred (ish) dead. A staggering figure, and one for which we should be (and are) kicking posteriors all over the globe. I refuse to understand, however, how Myrna in Mifflinsburg, PA or Jessup in Podunk, Idaho are feeling more vulnerable, or as though they've lost some essential American innocence that they're still mourning a year after the fact. People claiming Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder who wouldn't even know about the attack if not for the evening news. These people are the ones I'm talking about.

Maybe it comes from being a white male of European descent, and thus (according to many) the perpetrator of all the ills suffered by the modern world. I'm used to other people, other cultures, other demographics hating and envying me and what those like me stand for and have accomplished. September eleventh for me was a confirmation of what I already knew: people out there hate Americans and want us dead. Not only that, but it stood to reason for me that if a sufficient population of nuts tried for long enough, they'd eventually kill a significant number of us. I'm even a Clancy reader, so it's not like the transformation of an airplane into a weapon was a new concept for me either.

Yes, to a largely metaphorical extent, we were all attacked on September Eleventh, 2001. Evidently there was a significant portion of rank-and-file America that was honestly surprised --depths-of-the-being-surprised-and-shocked-- by the attacks. Good on ya; sensitivity counts for a lot, and says a lot about the character of a person. America is a nation of big-hearted people. However, we're also a nation of people with a long, distinguished tradition of giving a big collective middle-finger to those who don't hold truck with us and the way we do things. The way to lift that finger is not to sob and sniffle and hold pageants and wail "poor us" a year after the fact if we're not mourning a personal loss. If you don't live in forever-scarred New York City, and didn't lose a friend or family member or co-worker, then guess what? Your duty --the best way to honor the murdered and their survivors-- is to lift that finger. Point your knuckles at Kabul and Baghdad and tell 'em they're number one. :-)

(I wish I had somewhere worth flying to this Wednesday, because I'd be on a plane - I understand fares are a steal. I've made three round-trip flights up and down the east coast in the past year. I'll be flying to Chicago this winter. I refuse to let deranged Arabs half a world away determine my morning shower routine, let alone whether I exercise my freedom of movement.)


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