Remember 9/11: 15 Yearly Missed Opportunities

Remember 9/11Do you remember 11 September 2002? It was the first year that we got to remember 9/11. Ah, it was a good time. By that point, we had only lost 67 American troops in Afghanistan. No one was much thinking about Iraq, even though the Bush administration was already pushing hard for war. That’s not completely true, of course; Donald Trump told Howard Stern that day that he was for the new war. But overall, it truly was a good year to remember 9/11!

By 11 September 2003, it wasn’t quite so great to remember 9/11. By then, 342 American troops had died in Iraq. On the plus side, the number of American deaths in Afghanistan was down to only 54. The unemployment rate had gone up to 6.1 percent. Things certainly weren’t getting better, but times were nice enough to look back and remember 9/11.

On 11 September 2004, things were much the same as they had been in 2003. There were a few things that were worth celebrating. The unemployment rate had gone down to 5.4 percent. What’s more, Thomas Friedman had already started using what would later be called the Friedman Unit. On 30 November 2003, he wrote, “The next six months in Iraq… are the most important six months in US foreign policy in a long, long time.” Yes, it was still a good day to remember 9/11!

The Unwinding

Still, things had started to unwind a bit. By 11 September 2005, every person I knew who had voted for George W Bush the year before claimed to regret it. How could they have known that the Iraq War was a sham — something the Bush administration had wanted to do from the moment they got into office? Certainly reading a book was out of the question! This was the Bush era: real Americans didn’t read! In 2005, it was not a good day to remember 9/11.

So when we remember 9/11, just what are we remembering? It doesn’t seem to be anything deep. It seems to be like the frat boys partying on the announcement of Osama bin Laden death. “We’re number one!”

So much had changed. But I wondered from the start exactly what we were remembering. It’s not that I don’t accept that 9/11 was a huge tragedy. But it was also a great gift to the war mongers. I doubt that Bush would have gotten his Iraq War if everyone didn’t remember 9/11. We wouldn’t have seen the huge increase in the security state. We wouldn’t be flying unmanned death machines all over the world and killing children because some set of criteria indicate that maybe someone in the vicinity kinda seems like maybe they are sorta terrorish.

Remember 9/11: In Your Own Way

Every year that we remember 9/11, we get yet more reruns of documentaries about what happened that day. I don’t think anyone has to be reminded. We all remember. But I think “Remember 9/11” is kind of like “Remember the Maine.” It’s just a call for war. We were attacked and therefore anything we do is okay. “They raped our queen, so we raped their city, and we were right!”

Now I know: everyone remembers 9/11 in their own way. But as a society, I think we remember the attack. Many remember the rescue, which was both heroic and incredibly successful. (Pretty much everyone who could get out did.) But overall, I’m not sure what we are remembering. It seems that too much of it is remembering that we were wronged. Well, even if you accept that simplistic analysis, what did we learn?

What Are We Learning?

As we remember 9/11 for the 15th year, what are we getting for it? As a country, we are just as likely to resist democratic movements and support autocrats. We have normalized continuous war. Jihadism seems to be alive and well. We haven’t accepted a lick of responsibility for the blowback of our meddlesome foreign policy.

So when we remember 9/11, just what are we remembering? It doesn’t seem to be anything deep. It seems to be like the frat boys partying on the announcement of Osama bin Laden death. “We’re number one! We’re number one!” It means nothing to remember something if you don’t learn from it. And I don’t think that our country has learned anything. We will remember the attacks on 9/11 until the next attack. And we will respond to that attack in the same way we always do.

On this 15th remembrance of 9/11, I think we should remember that responding to tragedies like this should be done in a mature way — and not as a child would. But we won’t. We never do. Humans never have. “They raped our queen, so we raped their city, and we were right!”

17 thoughts on “Remember 9/11: 15 Yearly Missed Opportunities

  1. We are getting panic because Hillary Clinton became faint like many women her age do with hyperthyroidism and body armor. She went to her daughter’s apartment and now is going home to rest.

    Predictably the media went nuts. So that is our 9/11 remembrance this year.

    • Yeah, I saw that. Now the media has a whole other week to report, “We don’t know anything. But it raises questions.”

    • She won’t die until she’s 95, and she’ll probably go in the middle of writing some legislation. Or revising the 20th draft, most likely. It’s Bill I’m worried about. He don’t look good. You know those ads which say “ask your doctor if your heart’s healthy enough for sex”? I think Bill’s doctors have said “yours isn’t” and he’s told them “just GIMME THE PILLS ALREADY!” He was a worthy successor to Warren Harding.

        • I root for her to win, and hope she’s in for eight years. I just wish we had Emma Goldman in office instead. But baby steps, baby steps. We’ve lost a lot on the left, and it’ll take time to rebuild it.

  2. “They raped our queen, so we raped their city, and we were right!”

    You really like that quote. I googled it, and seven of the eight hits were from this site.

    • I love the Iliad. Of course, it doesn’t come from the Iliad. But it is in reference to the the Trojan War.

      And yes, I do love it. I think it sums up the way people think. It also drives home the idea that we really haven’t changed much in 2,500 years.

  3. Oh, my goodness. I hadn’t even thought about it. I was at a ballgame today, and when they had someone sing that damn Berlin song, I stayed in my seat while everyone around me rose. I got some rude comments about this. (Some Navy types were behind me. One spilled part of his beer on my shirt!) I’d forgotten it was the anniversary and some people consider it a big patriotic deal. If I’d remembered, I would have gone to the bathroom.

    I mean, I’m not a big fan of America right now, but I don’t want to offend anyone. I stand and remove my cap during the anthem, just like I would at any event in any country where they played the anthem. But I draw the line at “God Bless America.” That song is dreck, it’s always been dreck, and jingo dreck at that. Shit, I’d stand for amber waves of grain. Not the Christian god giving America more military might. Grace, we can use.

    I was listening to “Hamilton” some more — I’m a total fanboy about it — and noted that one of the songs told Adams “sit down, John.” That’s too great! How about some “1776” songs for ball games? I’d cheer for those! But I guess some people probably would be bugged by “Molasses To Rum.” Well, I’m bugged by “God Bless America.” So I think we’d be even.

    • I don’t suppose a thinking person would like any song they were forced to honor. But I don’t understand what the Berlin song is. At first, I thought of “99 Luftballons,” but I just checked and that’s not by Berlin; it’s just German. Also, it is a chilling anti-war song — not that most Americans have ever noticed.

      The musical is dead! Long live the musical!

      • Here’s a thing I found out today. The lyricist of “America The Beautiful” was a Christian socialist, and quite likely a lesbian (lived with a college friend until death, never married). And we sure never sang this verse in school: “God shed his grace on thee. Till selfish gain no longer stain the banner of the free!”

        I’d be tempted to say the Berlin song “Take My Breath Away” was the default national anthem in 1986, because of “Top Gun,” but we all know it was “Highway To The Danger Zone.”

          • Craft is dead. No one cares. My videos are not very good. But one thing I always do is make sure to equalize the sound. God, that annoys me!

            I can see why you don’t like Bob’s Burgers; there aren’t women with enormous breasts in it.

            It’s very odd to hear Bob’s voice come out of Archer. Just doesn’t seem right.

            • Well, when I first watched Bob’s Burgers, I thought it was weird to hear Archer’s voice. It really paid off when Archer got amnesia and took a job working at a burger joint with a wife and three kids.

              • I think that’s a major reason for the explosion of good cartoons right now; all the spectacular voice talent. It’s more of a paying gig these days, and so more gifted performers are doing it. (Who would think Jessica Walter? And she’s great.) My favorites are Benjamin and Patrick Warburton. And the narrator on “Jane The Virgin,” which isn’t a cartoon, but that guy is magnificent.

              • Yeah, it’s all what you’re used to. I remember when Bob’s Burgers first started, the men voicing the female leads really bugged me. Now I just can’t hear it; they sound totally natural.

        • Oh, is that the song? I started watching that film when it was first out on video, but I quickly left. The characters were not interesting.

          That doesn’t surprise me about “America the Beautiful.” That was a period when a lot of people were socialists. American ideals are libertarian socialist, in the Noam Chomsky sense. The fact that “socialism” came to be a dirty word was the result of the Cold War. Whenever I talk to someone who hates socialism, they don’t know what they are talking about. If they talk about anything relevant at all, it is always trivial stuff that really has nothing to do with socialism. These same people seem to have little idea what capitalism is either. It’s a great irony that people who call themselves socialists normally understand what capitalism is (for good and bad) than the normal capitalist.

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