September 11, 2011


So, what is it that we a remembering now?
  • That we are not immune to the horrors of the world?
  • That we are capable, in extreme moments, of extreme sacrifice & extreme selflessness?
  • That, when allowed time to "think" about things, it is actually our fears & emotions that take over?
  • That the quest for justice can be perverted with disastrous, evil results?
  • That the world is awfully damned quiet when all the planes are grounded?
  • That our capacity for exploitation knows no bounds?
  • That people with the will to do harm can do enormous harm against very long odds?
  • That the enemy of our enemy is not always our friend?
  • That chickens come home to roost?
  • That people will come up with the most outrageous explanations to avoid that which they do not want to face?
  • That assassination and murder are the same thing?
  • That war by another name is terrorism?
  • That the ends justify the means?
  • That the ends don't justify the means?
  • That one horrible act can became an excuse for a lot more horrible acts?
  • That nothing is ever clear?
  • That almost nobody is right when it comes to this?
  • That myriad & endless eventual minutiae can be roped into the same narrative, robbing such event of meaning and substance, no matter how monumental said event was/is?
  • That those ah-rabs hate our freedom?
  • That there is a whole 'nother reality that we have only begun to be introduced to?
  • That bin Laden is/was Satan?
  • That bin Laden was a revolutionary?
  • That we helped create the very terrorist organization that is responsible for 9/11?
  • That our jingoism knows no bounds?
  • That, if Japan had nuked us instead of vice versa, this event wouldn't seem as monolithic?
  • That we really don't like it when the war is brought to us for a change?
  • That people running for office know no shame?
  • That there are people, ordinary people, who pay the ultimate price for things that happen far beyond their muster?
  • That this horrible act harmed not only innocent citizens of New York and Washington, but innocent citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention collateral damage in Britain, Spain, Pakistan, India, Palestine, Israel, Syria, etc.?
  • That violence begets violence?
That the sun always rises in the morning?

In the mouths of far too many, "REMEMBER 9/11" is empty sloganeering.  It is nothing more than lip service to a demographic, a bumper sticker that signifies your club.  It is all about the speaker, not those about whom we speak.

In the mouths of far too many, "REMEMBER 9/11" is a call to war against that which they refuse to understand, an empty blanket of words to protect them from the OTHER.

Some will not be able to forget, as much as they want to.  For the rest of us, given the "lessons" that we have "learned" from 9/11, amnesia would be better . . . an entirely appropriate moment of tribute for the innocent victims and the heroes (yes, I will use that word) who tried to rescue them has been swallowed by flag waving USA! chants.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: REMEMBER 9/11 is the victory of the people who brought down the towers.  Their place in our fears is ultimately exactly what they hoped for.

The past returns to us like a ghost, haunts us . . . handcuffs us to a history that we can't escape, or believe we can't escape.  To move forward, we must overcome the past, actively build our past into our own future . . .

. . . which indeed, is exactly REMEMBER 9/11 crowd are doing, but with disastrous results.  It's one thing to write your past, but you must be responsible for it.  The REMEMBER 9/11 crowd are handcuffing themselves to the ghost of burning buildings, to a future of vengeance and retribution.  It is, indeed, an old specter, a film that has been running in a destructive loop almost since the beginning of remembrance, since the beginning of history.  It is the haunting, the history we can't escape: it is the document of our extinction.

So let's turn our backs on all this jingoism.  If we want to remember 9/11 at all, let's make it a Memorial Day for slaughtered innocents worldwide - not just here, not just then.  Let's make it a day for those who are destroyed by forces of violence and repression everywhere.  Not a victim's day, mind you, but a day to re-dedicate ourselves to the dreams of the lost, the dreams that perhaps they didn't even dare to dream.  Let us make 9/11 a quiet memorial to the brotherhood of the common man.

In other words, let's forget 9/11.


Matt said...

Easily the meaningful stuff I've heard/read about this anniversary. We've reacted exactly how our enemies wanted us to. And that hurts to admit that. "They hate our freedom" - no worries there. My options at the airport are to get my junk scanned or a very nice pat down. While I recognize that the balance between personal security and privacy/unreasonable search and seizure is a tough one, I can't help but feel like our fear and ignorance is a far worse enemy then Al Quesadilla.

comfortstarr said...

I mostly agree. That said, living now here in the NYC Metro area (that's the only way I can think of myself living in New Jersey), I think there is a real difference compelled by proximity. You can't swing a cat without hitting someone here who was a close relative or friend of someone who was killed. Now, not being one of these people myself, what you wrote resonates and is basically what I feel, but being here and hearing these folk, it's not surprising that they react in very different ways.

One thing that bugs me about 9/11--and it wasn't limited to the anniversary stuff--is the meme about the terrorists and Osama being cowards. Mislabeling what they are leads to mis-responding to them. By all accounts, Bin Laden was a very respected, on the ground military leader during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And flying a plane into a building is not something a coward--like myself--would do. It doesn't lend credence to their actions by NOT calling them cowards. It's just intellectual dishonesty at best, and bullshit xenophobia at worst.

Angie said...

i was just talking to rich about this yesterday. i don't even know what people MEAN when they say "we will never forget." is that a threat to the enemy? is that a promise to the dead? WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN?

there is nothing but means. no end. so, basically we're screwed, because our means only produce more of the same, endlessly into the future, which is tainted with failure before it even comes to be.

if i could get rid of any delusion we share as human beings, it would be the idea of an "end." or a beginning, for that matter. biology encourages us to see things that way, but physics increasingly says no.

Angie said...

oh, and i forgot to say, i agree with you. i got sidetracked on a minor point--not minor to me, obviously, but minor to the point of your entry. i agree that we can change our collective future with appropriate effort.

Bill Zink said...

Clark - you're right, there are different levels of this. That's why I'm a little more tolerant of a friend of mind from New York who is fond of saying not only "never forget" but also "never forgive" (tolerant to a point, I should say). It is different when the attacks happen literally in your back yard.

I don't want to minimize the event. It was a shocking thing, and when it happened, it stunned me and all the smartasses I tend to hang around with into silence. Even the most radical among us dealt with it from a point of view that "we" have just encountered a tragedy, even if we didn't latch onto the common narrative of what that tragedy was.

But, one of the points I want to make here is that I think all the jingoism is what is minimizing reality of the attacks. One of the most offensive things I have seen is Herman Cain's campaign ad on the issue ( - it is so shockingly offensive that I still can't believe that his campaign released it, so if they aren't responsible, I am sorry and relieved), and there is far too much of the celebration that was along the same lines, if more "tasteful". There was some serious bullshit flying around Sunday.

That said, I think 9/11 memorials are entirely appropriate. Perhaps we just need to wrest the tributes from the assholes who would exploit them.

Terry and or Joan said...

I was on duty this past Sunday and was detailed to attend one of the local church's Memorial services where we were honored and recognized. Talking about feeling awkward...definitely not my thing. I have never been able to comment intelligently on the events of 9/11 and to this day remain speechless. But I do appreciate your comments, Bill.

Bill Zink said...

Thanks for your input, Terry. Again, I want to be clear that I am not against the celebration of 9/11; but rather, I am appalled by how it has been co-opted. If, indeed, it became a sort of Memorial Day for police and firefighters, that would be appropriate.

On second thought, seeing how Memorial Day has been co-opted . . .