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September 11th, 2006


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02:15 pm - "How will you celebrate this holiday?"
The Buffett Oracle today informed me:
52. Better break out your thinkin' cap and your old dunce cone.
This morning, when I woke up, the radio alarm was, of course, playing the morning DJ on the station I wake up to. As I drifted in and out of consciousness for a half hour, I caught the radio chatter about the fifth anniversary of September 11th, and found myself wondering:

"How will you celebrate this holiday?"

It seemed like a strange question to ask: how does one "celebrate" this holiday? How will it be celebrated in the future, when the "sting" has worn off, when terror is "defeated," as Bush has informed us it will be ("But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows")? Make no mistake: it is a holiday. President Bush declared it such: today is Patriot Day.

I meant to ask, "How will you remember the events of five years ago?" But that is not the question I found truly interesting and deeply personal.

In a proclamation on September 4, 2003, President Bush said, "I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities." Rememberance services and candlelight vigils are indicated as "appropriate," as is flying the flag at half-staff (if you aren't flying a flag today, you're in violation, FYI).

But still, what will this holiday become? How will it be celebrated?

Will we one day celebrate September 11th with fireworks? John Adams predicted that July 2, the day the Resolution of Independence was voted on, would be forever remembered with fireworks. ("The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.") He was mostly right: July 4th is.

But fireworks seem almost disrespectful: the explosions of September 11 were not explosions of freedom, but explosions of terror. If the proclamation of President Bush is any indication, we are to sit in our homes and remember the day somberly. Or, if we look at it from another angle, we are to cower within our homes, remembering the day fearfully.

But Bush also indicated that we were embarking on an age of liberty, that "this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world." September 11th, it seems, ushered in a new age of liberty and democracy. I will not force you to listen to my out-loud wondering about where that liberty and democracy are to be found with the Patriot Act in force.

But today, as I listened in my half-asleep stupor, I realized what September 11th really was: a media gimmick. I have been hearing about the "special rememberance" editions of radio morning shows, where clips from various news stories and commentators will be played, for almost a week. September 11th is a way to garner listeners, to sway them to your station and your morning show, and a time to say things that perhaps you can't get away with on other days.

This morning, I was told that I "had to be angry," that I had a right to hate. "We have to get him," I was told, informed that getting Osama would somehow make the world right, make it a happy-go-lucky pre-9/11 world.

The modifier "terrorist" (as regards Sept. 11) is now a casualty of this war. No longer is this the "worst terrorist attack on US soil." It is now the "worst attack on US soil." There is no longer need to justify that, though: the comparisons to Pearl Harbor have stopped as well. This is now officially a bigger, badder attack. Historians will teach it that way to our children, too, much as they teach that Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War and that the Tet Offensive was the turning point in the Vietnam War.

But still the question remains: How will you celebrate this holiday?
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "Someone I Used to Love", -JB

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[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
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It does, doesn't it? It's interesting to see how people react to this. And I do think that Sept. 11 gives plenty of people good reason to find hate and express it.

"Love thy neighbor" only goes so far. My understanding of the passage is that you're supposed to do that, even if he tries to blow up a plane in the middle of a city you live in.
[User Picture]
From:tlachtga
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
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But what does it mean to feel and express hate? Hate festers, hate doesn't go away. Anger goes away, especially when justice is done. But hate doesn't.

At some point, OBL just becomes a symbol, a thing to hate, a think to focus on, and context is lost. Even after justice is done (it hasn't been yet), hate will go on, looking for a new symbol.

Now, I DO hate OBL. I don't want him dead, because he'd enjoy a martyr's death. He doesn't deserve that. But this doesn't work in the long run. Anger works. Anger gets things done. But hate is an amorphous thing, easily manipulated. Hatred is ultimately irrational. Anger is not.

That scares me. I don't want to be manipulated.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*nods* I'm not sure that there's anything wrong with hatred, not really. I am sure that I don't want to hear about it or have someone else's hatred be expressed around me, though.

It's just so amazingly interesting to see that hate, something that so many of us find impermissible, is permissible in this instance because of who it is. We frown on those who hate people because of race or religion because these are obviously irrational hatreds, but we accept those who hate because we misread it as rational in this case.

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