September 11: Also Very Far Away

An Addendum To My Previous 9/11 Blog

In my last 9/11 blog, I commented on how raw the event still feels to me. How close it feels. How fresh the wound still is.

But it is also so very far away.

Isn’t it amazing that the second-graders who were reading “The Pet Goat” to the president when the attacks happened are now teenagers?! Wow.

Schoolchildren recall 9/11 with Bush

It’s a common (though minor) misconception that Bush read to the children on 9/11. They read to him.
And yes, the president really is holding the book upside down. That’s not an altered photo. The book really is upside down.

Those children are now teenagers.

9/11 is distant in that people have moved on, the feeling of unity following the attacks was fleeting, quickly and crassly exploited, and is now only a memory.

That the media and many people are dwelling and memorializing mostly has to do with something deeply ingrained in the human animal insisting that 5 and other anniversaries with round, finger-count fufilling numbers (10, 15, 20, 25, etc.) are deeply significant. The fifth anniversary is getting wall-to-wall coverage whereas the fourth got nearly none.

My last 9/11 post,September 11: Still Too Raw For Me,” provoked some interesting responses from my MySpace readers. One mentioned that the elementary class she helps drew pictures of the WTC, and some of the kids had been taught to hate Muslims. Another comment said: “This isn’t a time to be sad. This is a time to be angry.”

And I totally can see that point. I have some anger too, that 9/11 has become more a political slogan than an event. The memory of 9/11, something sacred, has been so exploited it’s tragic. It’s now more a cynical political weapon than anything else. In that way, it’s now very distant and meaningless, just a soundbite. You want checks and balances on the president? “You’ve failed to learn the lessons of 9/11” Bush keeps repeating. He even held his political convention in NYC. And he has used 9/11 to justify torture, secret and indefinite imprisonment without trial, the new Orwellian Department of Homeland Security, warrantless wiretaps and his invasion of Iraq, even when it is now proven Saddam had no link to 9/11 at all. A Justice Dept. memo said it all:

“In both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution, Congress has recognized the President’s authority to use force in circumstances such as those created by the September 11 incidents. Neither statute, however, can place any limits on the President’s determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make.

Thus, the president has no boundaries, no checks on his power. For the War on Terror, anything goes. Warrants? Rule of law? Geneva Convention? “Rendered quaint,” Attorney General Gonzales wrote. And this is a sharp break from the American traditions of liberty we’re so accustomed to.
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security” Benjamin Franklin is oft-quoted as saying. Sadly, the nonsensical preserving of “freedom” by taking away freedoms, abandoning the American ideal is what 9/11 has come to mean to many of us.

Right after we invaded Iraq, I was talking about how we were blowing up civilians too much, and one of my Alabamian nurses said “have we killed as many as they killed on 9/11 yet?” Bush had made it sound like THEY (Iraqis) had attacked us, and THEY (they’re all the same) had to pay. Even the score. And the ignorant masses lapped it up.

Well ironically on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we’ve accrued 2,974 war dead in the unrelated Iraq war, just over the 2,973 lost to real terrorism on 9/11.

“And so here we are five years later. Fearmongering remains unceasing. So do tax cuts. So does the war against a country that did not attack us on 9/11. We have moved on, but no one can argue that we have moved ahead.”
Frank Rich, 9/10/2006

Keith Olbermann says it better than I ever could:

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
The President — and those around him — did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, “bi-partisanship” meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as “morally or intellectually confused”; as “appeasers;” as those who, in the Vice President’s words yesterday, “validate the strategy of the terrorists.”

This was Olbermann’s most powerful commentary yet. I don’t do it justice with this snippet. Be sure to see his whole speech here.

We were so united after 9/11. We could’ve done anything with that unity. And it breaks my heart and makes me sick at myself to now be writing about it as just another slimy political wedge like the president’s made it.

That’s what makes it distant. That’s what makes it business as usual. That’s what tells us the world is not any different than before. It’s probably even worse with vile corruption.

Fight the vile with the holy. Fight the power by bringing more goodness into the world. Fight the power.


Filed Under: Politics and Government