Thursday, September 11, 2008

SEVEN YEARS AFTER 9-11, TIME TO GET OVER IT


The annual national hysteria over the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon is in full cry. Dedication of a remembrance garden at the Pentagon, moments of silence, disclosure of any personal tale of woe that can be dragged out of survivors is fair game.



No matter that survivors of that tragic event have been awarded (on average) some $2 million, no matter that the nation has plunged itself into an unwinnable war on their behalf, no matter that we are near bankruptcy, awash in contractor greed and fraud. Most importantly, no matter that over 4,000 American kids have died in Iraq, nearly 1,000 additional in Afghanistan and tens of thousands bear emotional and otherwise hidden wounds that will change and have changed their lives forever.

All but forgotten, is the brutal fact that we fail almost without exception to care for those who return, relegating them to the same stumbling, mumbling, suicidal lives of Vietnam vets.


Forgive me if I fail to join those who feel we have not done enough, soon enough, in sufficient quantity or quality (or whatever) for those who survived in New York and Washington. Or don’t forgive me. I don’t really give a damn, as I watch a large portion of the world implode by way of American nationalism, patriotism, ignorance and just plain revenge.

Revenge that is, as long as someone else’s kid pays the cost. Revenge as long as it doesn’t impede the trip to the mall, stock dividends or a cozy retirement.

This is the revenge war whose costs are hidden from view, whose caskets come home unmet in the dark, whose troops are 99 and 44/100th percent of the class that didn’t graduate from Princeton. I’m sick to death of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and that Coulter witch, who rev the engines of hatred over the bodies of decent young American men and women. There isn’t a one of them who ever risked their fat asses on anything more dangerous than a cocaine high, or who wouldn’t risk a kid for a rating or another book deal.

They are trash.

The headlines today are maudlin, self pitying and organized in such a way as to perpetuate the myth of victimhood:

  • From Families' Grief, a Symbol of Loss, Hope

The completion of the memorial is not the result of a large-scale government endeavor, but one led by a determined group of victims' family members who have channeled their sorrow into a ceaseless fundraising campaign.

  • Lives Shaped by Loss

Children who lost a parent on 9/11 still grapple with what it means to have had a childhood so steeped in national tragedy, so riven with anguish and pain.

  • Where They Were on 9/11

  • A Sister's Undying Love

  • Share Your Story

How about sharing the story of two million Iraqi families who have been run out of their country and threatened with death if they return? What do we say of the undying love that died—the 25 festive, hopeful Afghans at a wedding, blown to (literal) bits, including the bride? Who mourns 60 Afghan children and thirty adults, killed by mistake?

Their stories are not unique among thousands. Their stories are ordinary, among hundreds of thousands.

In case you wondered, on 9-11 they were ending a normal Baghdad day, waiting to cross busy avenues unmarked by bomb craters and barricades. They were thinking of heading home to neighbors they knew and talked with, whose kids played together and headed to the park for soccer and maybe an ice cream. They watched Saddam’s TV offerings and life wasn’t all that great under the pressures of economic boycott—but it was life.

George Bush named al Qaeda responsible and then stumbled over the targeting, missed everyone but the innocents and the not-so-innocent who came out of the woodwork for their own revenge. Muslims understand revenge, as Westerners can’t even comprehend it.

The mistakes along the way to ‘bring ‘em on’ are too many and too pathetic to recount here, but sending Darth Vader outfitted American kids (who speak no Arabic and are scared half to death) to kick family doors off the hinges and terrorize Iraqi women and kids might have been a not-entirely-thought-through message.

Bring ‘em on,” brought ‘em on in numbers and with intent that put the lie to American shock and awe. But that’s another argument, one about which Ann Coulter no doubt has much to say. Rush never apologized to a single American family for beating the drum with his phallic cigar that brought their kid home in the middle of the night to a silent and press-not-allowed air base. Bill O’Reilly, the mouth-that-roared, skitters off home to whatever gated community can stand the smell.

And all of this in the name of patriotism. It’s Rudy Giuliani’s day, George Bush’s war, Rumsfeld’s mistaken hubris--and the world is not a better place for it.

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