September 11, 2007
I felt a bit conflicted about writing this post. What you want to do is remember an awful crime. What you end up doing is invoking a Republican talking point. That is all that remains of the term "9/11." As Gary Kamiya correctly points out, 9/11 need hardly be remembered: The President won't stop bringing it up. "President Bush used the attacks to justify his 2003 invasion of Iraq," writes Kamiya. "And he has been using 9/11 ever since to scare Americans into supporting his 'war on terror.' He has incessantly linked the words 'al-Qaida' and 'Iraq,' a Pavlovian device to make us whimper with fear at the mere idea of withdrawing. In a recent speech about Iraq, he mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that jihadists in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S., or that their numbers and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated. It's no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus' 'anxiously awaited' evaluation of the war is to be given on the 10th and 11th of September."
9/11 has been robbed of its significance. It no longer lights up the neurons recalling an American tragedy, but instead activates those that understand political strategy. I hate them for that. So this isn't a 9/11 remembrance. We've never been allowed to forget 9/11. Not for an instant. What we have been allowed to forget is 2,974 individuals who perished in that attack, who didn't die because they wanted to invade Iraq or because they thought Republicans were insufficiently competitive in elections, but because they were murdered. Remember them.
September 11, 2007 | Permalink
In October 2001, I visited NYC. A new acquaintance there, talking about the Bush administration, said that it would be their Reichstag Fire.
I was really outraged that someone would say such a thing. I remember where I was sitting, the expression on his face, everything. Just total shock.
He was right, of course. And Giuliani, who I admired at the time, is running wholly on the "9/11 = Reichstag Fire" platform.
Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg | Sep 11, 2007 11:06:06 AM
In this post. Ezra, you reveal what a wonderful writer and thoughtful person you are. Thank you.
Posted by: Farinata X | Sep 11, 2007 11:39:37 AM
There was a moment when we might have united the world against the kind of religious and political fanaticism that resulted in the tragedy of . This site, which I hope the owner will keep up permanently, memorializes that moment. George Bush, Karl Rove, and the Republicans ignored the promise of that moment and hijacked it for their own political purposes. It is our shame that we let them.
Posted by: David in NY | Sep 11, 2007 11:46:40 AM
Posted by: aschupanitz | Sep 11, 2007 12:02:27 PM
On September 11th 2001 I was actually home for a change and not on a plane headed out of Bradley headed somewhere in the continental US. At the time I was working for IBM Security & Privacy and travelled primarily as a part of my daily business. I was shaving when a friend called me and told me to turn on the tv. Once I did, I saw the news that a plane had hit the trade tower, as it was a clear day, I thought perhaps it was an accident. However, as I watched, a second plane hit the second tower and immediately the name Al Qaeda flashed in my mind.
Among all the feelings of dread and anger I also had memories of just having been in the towers visiting fellow IBM’ers who had been on a long term contract there. I wondered if they were at work yet, if they were already dead, or perhaps attempting to get out of the building. For the rest of the day, I made and returned calls to and from all of my friends and colleagues checking in, to see that I was ok and not in NY as well as where they were and if they were ok while watching the news played in the background.
That day changed me in many ways. But a decision I made that day also changed my psyche and my physical health. I decided to go to NYC, and volunteer with the Red Cross. I called IBM, got the go ahead, and the next day I was headed to Manhattan. I worked at the site for 4 days and when I came home, had liquid in my lungs. The acrid smoke and chemical/ash mixture caught up with me as no one was passing out any kind of breathing apparatus at all with Red Cross, the police, or military. I have asthma already, and I am as yet hesitant to check into any further issues with my lungs as I am fine now, but just post my working at the site, I had a few days of not being able to get out of bed.
After 9/11 I went through a depression and today still (especially today 6 years and the same Tuesday) I still get choked up about it. I also now get angry. Angry not only at Al Qaeda and their ilk, but also at our present administration for bungling things so terribly with regard to the “War On Terror” and the sham of a war in Iraq. Anger then turns back to apathy, or perhaps depression because I see no clear way of solving these issues with the way our government has been run up to now and have little confidence in the crop of hopefuls for the next election.
In all, 9/11 opened my eyes and made me just want to close them again, shake my head, and walk away into the wild.
America is lost
Posted by: Scot | Sep 11, 2007 12:04:56 PM
America is not lost. America is the people who walked into the building and got others out. America is the outpouring of concern and volunteers who, at the risk of their health, helped others. America is not the man in the house but the people in the fields. America is the words on a document and the belief that they matter. America is not lost but it is being unpeopled but we can bring them back, one person at a time.
Posted by: Hawise | Sep 11, 2007 12:28:31 PM
I watched the towers fall from my street corner in Brooklyn. This post was both eloquent and necessary. Thank you, Ezra.
Posted by: Passing Shot | Sep 11, 2007 12:35:01 PM
your comments were very moving.
my heart goes out to you for all that you must have experienced during those four days, and on all of the days since that time.
i hope that your lungs and the heaviness in your heart continue to heal.
and ezra, your post is also very powerful and eloquent, along with that particular photograph.
Posted by: jacqueline | Sep 11, 2007 12:42:35 PM
I actually think a lot of this will change in 2009, so long as the occupant of the WH is not Rudy Giuliani. Much of the conflicted feeling about 9/11 is due to Bush specifically, and as Bushism fades, the fuzzier post-9/11 feelings of unity might return.
In the long run, though, 9/11 will probably be something like Pearl Harbor ... a day that is remembered is important for those who were alive at the time, but has much less significance for anyone else.
Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 11, 2007 12:45:57 PM
Nicely done. Thanks for so eloquently articulating some feelings I, and many others, share.
Posted by: sad patriot | Sep 11, 2007 12:48:36 PM
Lindsay Morehouse, RIP
Posted by: Brian Cook | Sep 11, 2007 1:07:13 PM
Thanks for the eloquent post. Six long years, and it's all been downhill: Beauty, unfathomable loss and the beginning of the Forever War.
Posted by: Madison Guy | Sep 11, 2007 1:26:24 PM
Excellent post, Ezra. I wrote along similar lines last year:
There are two entirely different 9/11s: the event itself, and the event as symbol--as casus belli, as slogan, as debate-stopper, as cynical political ploy. As the former recedes into the past, the latter advances; the accretion of self-serving rhetoric threatens to obliterate genuine memory....
To remember the event, we need to forget the Alamo.
Posted by: Tom Hilton | Sep 11, 2007 1:34:17 PM
Remember when the rest of the world was on our side after 9/11? Like this.
Posted by: Mark | Sep 11, 2007 1:42:29 PM
Bravo. And thank you.
Posted by: litbrit | Sep 11, 2007 2:00:09 PM
Happy Patriot Day, everyone.
Posted by: Senescent | Sep 11, 2007 2:00:11 PM
Great posts all around, everyone. Hawise, your comments are perfect.
David in NYC, thanks for that link. It was so touching to be reminded how much the world was with us in those days following the attacks, how much they were willing to help lift us back up.
I remember seeing a report about how fishermen in Iceland paused during their morning work on the docks for a few minutes to remember those lost in the attacks. It was such a striking image to me - fishermen standing by the sea all those miles away, remembering those lost in a place most of them had probably never been.
The world was with us after September 11, 2001. And we squandered and destroyed it. All in the name of jingoism, xenophobia, scoring tawdry political points, and settling old scores.
Posted by: DT | Sep 11, 2007 2:29:40 PM
I also remember in the days following the attack, Bush and Giuliani hammering home that we should live our lives normally, without fear, less the terrorists win. Yet Bush's stated arguments for war with Iraq were all based on fears, and Giuliani, and other repubs, are now running on some notion that we will be "safer" with them. Someone needs to tell these guys THEY have let the terrorists win.
Posted by: jinbaltimore | Sep 11, 2007 2:45:13 PM
last year I totally lost my shit. Nineeleven is a Republican Party holiday. It's theirs now. let them have it.
what kind of country celebrates bad things? unhappy countries like serbia, who have been mourning prince lazar for 600 years.
this year I don't care at all. seriously. we should forget. let's not be a country with a historical grudge. mourn those who died and forget the national implications.
Posted by: chris | Sep 11, 2007 3:40:16 PM
I strongly disagree with this post. This sounds like your whining about having let someone else do something to you. This is sad. The Republicans didn't take anything you didn't let them take.
9/11 means to me something very important -- both apolitical and political. It is a day of remembrance of lost souls. It is a day when all Americans were willing to stand strong together in the face of tragedy. It is a day of solidarity.
To the extent it is a political day, I disagree that they have taken anything. Yes, right wingers have exploited 9/11 in their inept efforts to mismanage America and have cowardly cloaked themselves in it to excuse all manner of ignominy. But I won't let them off the hook for it.
I look to 9/11 as a day when I realized we are one and our government has purpose, and a day that demands we the people to make government work better and smarter and stronger so we can keep America great.
I remember 9/11 that way. God bless America, brothers and sisters.
Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 11, 2007 4:10:09 PM
Like many others I knew instinctively that Bush et al would attempt to skim every possible advantage from the tragedy of September 11. But - again, like many others - I did not realize how full throated this advantage-taking would be, not to say successful, and how despicably divisive it would turn out to be.
Objectively, the country is now effectively controlled by a group whose thirst for continued power and influence is such that it will resort to any technique that works. The primary technique has been fear, unrelenting fear, to the point where one begins to wonder how fearful these fearmongers are. To take advantage of tragedy in this way, and to use it as a pretext for making war - war that is at once illegal and immoral - is beyond shameful.
In the process they have unearthed all the most undesirable characteristics of the American populace for all to see: petulance, self-pity, xenophobia and entitlement, not to mention shoot-the-moon militarism and near-fascism.
And it is all being sustained by the so-called free press and the Democratic congress. The lack of action on the part of the Congress, practically morbid, leads one to think that the Democrats' primary concern is to let things get as bad as possible for the Republicans so that they (the Democrats) can take power - but no indication that they will then use that power to any more constructive ends than at present.
The last time I called one of my two Democratic senators to express alarm at the increasing prospects for a U.S. attack on Iran the response I got was, "Thank you for calling," with about as much interest as the cliched "Have a nice day" from your local bored retail checkout counter.
Posted by: JB | Sep 11, 2007 4:15:28 PM
Oops, actually meant 'moribund', not 'morbid'.
But there is a morbid element to the Democratic inaction as well.
Posted by: JB | Sep 11, 2007 4:27:21 PM
You're a good guy, Ezra.
Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 11, 2007 5:37:08 PM
As a native NYer who spent several years working down in the financial district right next to the WTC, there is no way anyone can take 9/11 away from me; it's the day my guts were ripped out.
One of the 2,974 who perished was an old friend; I will never forget her.
Posted by: fiat lux | Sep 11, 2007 5:59:06 PM
So true, we've never remotely been able to forget 9/11, and until these murderers are brought to justice, we never will.
Bush, Cheney, Feith, Kagan, Addington, Gonzales, bin Laden, what's the difference, they're all complicit in the conspiracy to commit, or the profiteering from, the deaths of those 2,974 people, who you so rightly note, never intended to invade Iraq.
Evil, miserable, cowards all.
Posted by: Duckman GR | Sep 11, 2007 7:55:42 PM
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