Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 11

I was watching MSNBC the morning that two planes flew into the World Trade Center's two buildings. On live teevee, I saw the second plane crash into the building. This became the third live teevee tragedy I witnessed. The first was in 1963 with Jack Ruby murdering Lee Harvey Oswald. I was sick that Oswald would not face justice. I was a freshman in high school when that happened. I won't go into the whole JFK beacon of true light generation, that soon faded with Viet Nam, but many of us felt great possibility with America back then, things have clearly changed. The second tragedy involved boxing. I watched as Boom Boom Mancini murdered Duk Koo Kim on a November day. I use the word murder purposely & it reflects on Mancini as it was his fists that caused the death of another person. We have so many words that deflect true meaning - execution, harvest, etc., that ought to offend everyone, but we are generally gentle creatures who like our tea weak, & in the process avoid the truth. OK, back to 9/11. I hate the term - 9/11 - since the ReThugs keep using as a whip to scare people. That's all these people have in their bag - fear. Scare the devil out of America & we'll get reelected, who cares about the proper way to govern a country? So, while reading James Wolcott this a.m., I came across this analysis of the on going 9/11 grief fest, blame fest. Simon Jenkins writes for the GuardianUlimited Network. This makes a person think & nod their head in agreement, sorrow, horror, & a fierce determination to change things.
Even if The Path to 9/11 were politically pure, its raison d'etre would be suspect. How many times and how many ways must the adrenaline be pumped, the tragedy replayed, and the suffering exploited? The fall of the towers has become a ritual fetish, an annual haunting, that doesn't exorcise fear, but replenishes it.

"What has changed, grotesquely, is the aftershock," Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian, delivering a splash of cold reality. "Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible. This response has become 24-hour, seven-day-a-week amplification by the new politico-media complex, especially shrill where the dead are white people. It is this that puts global terror into the bang. While we take ever more extravagant steps to ward off the bangs, we do the opposite with the terrorist aftershock. We turn up its volume. We seem to wallow in fear.

"Were I to take my life in my hands this weekend and visit Osama bin Laden's hideout in Wherever-istan, the interview would go something like this. I would ask how things have been for him since 9/11. His reply would be that he had worried at first that America would capitalise on the global revulsion, even among Muslims, and isolate him as a lone fanatic...

"In the event Bin Laden need not have worried. He would agree, as did the CIA's al-Qaida analyst in Peter Taylor's recent documentary, that the Americans have done his job for him. They panicked. They drove the Taliban back into the mountains, restoring the latter's credibility in the Arab street and turning al-Qaida into heroes. They persecuted Muslims across America. They occupied Iraq and declared Iran a sworn enemy. They backed an Israeli war against Lebanon's Shias. Soon every tinpot Muslim malcontent was citing al-Qaida as his inspiration. Bin Laden's tiny organisation, which might have been starved of funds and friends in 2001, had become a worldwide jihadist phenomenon.

"I would ask Bin Laden whether he had something special up his sleeve for the fifth anniversary. Why waste money, he would reply. The western media were obligingly re-enacting the destruction and the screaming, turning the base metal of violence into the gold of terror. They would replay the tapes and rerun the footage ad nauseam, and thus remind the world of his awesome power. Americans are more afraid of jihadists this year than last. In a Transatlantic Trends survey, the number of them describing international terrorism as an 'extremely important threat' went up from 72% to 79%...

"Bin Laden might boast that he had achieved terrorism's equivalent of an atomic chain reaction: a self-regenerating cycle of outrage and foreign-policy overkill, aided by anniversary journalism and fuelled by the grim scenarios of security lobbyists. He now had only to drop an occasional CD into the offices of al-Jazeera, and Washington and London quaked with fear. The authorities could be reduced to million-dollar hysterics by a phial of nail varnish, a copy of the Qur'an, or a dark-skinned person displaying a watch and a mobile phone."

I'll be in Cape May this 9/11, as I was on the 9/11 of 2001, and the ones before and since. I don't intend to watch any of the memorial coverage, listen to the radio, or pore over the newspaper supplements. It'll be a day for going to the beach and listening to the underlying bass of the sloshing tide, for birding in the meadow or at the hawk watch, a day for tuning out the too-talkative world. The vapor trails of jets flying overhead will be all the reminder one needs of that September morning.

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