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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

(35 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:tlachtga
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
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But is it really a new age of liberty? Is Afghanistan really better? Not if you're a woman--it's largely the same. Iraq is actually worse if you're a woman. Saddam Hussein was evil, but we're the ones who propped him up. We supported him against Iran, we told the Kurds we'd back an uprising and then didn't--and this was AFTER the first Iraq war.

What next--invade Iran? They support terrorism. They want the bomb. But they are a democracy, after all. We don't like who they've elected, but they are a democracy. Lebanon is a democracy. Palestine is a democracy.

But Russia isn't a democracy. Belarus isn't a democracy. China isn't a democracy. And certain parts of America aren't exactly democratic--we have a long and still active history of election fraud. Good god, I hate to think of what we've done to the Indians, and what we still do. (And yeah, I admit I don't know enough about the casinos to know if they're helping the community or not.)

If I actually thought that Bush believed his own rhetoric about liberty and freedom, then maybe I could buy that this is some new age. But it isn't. Liberty and freedom doesn't mean the Patriot Act, or warrentless wiretaps or the government tracking bank accounts that have activities over $5000. BTW, that includes me and my parents, thanks to the wedding. Does the government need to know what I search for on the internet?

Is this liberty? Is this freedom?

I think it's good to ask what this day means. I think the responses you're getting are fascinating. But I can't think of any reason to celebrate today--and especially not celebrating liberty in an age devoid of it.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
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"A regime is a government we don't approve of. A government is a regime we do."

I fully agree with you, really. I don't think that anyone's actually better off after this whole mess. If we can still be attacked (and we're told daily that we're vulnerable in a myriad of oranges, yellows, and reds. . . like we'll ever see green), then has any of this been worth it, or even effective?

My dad and I had a conversation about civil liberties one day recently. He's gone completely over to the side that believes we should all have our DNA kept on file, along with retna scans and fingerprints. Once, there was a strong movement for those civil liberties. Now, people, reasonable people, think that they make no sense. "Civil liberties" means terrorism can run rampant. It means that people can't be found if they're a terrorist.

"Civil liberties" give us the most evil thing, the thing any terrorist would love to have: presumed innocence.

The question becomes: Can we afford to presume that anyone is innocent?

I say that we can't afford not to, and I suspect that you agree with me.

But I also see that we're deep in the minority.
[User Picture]
From:tlachtga
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC)
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I absolutely agree.

I understand, even if I don't agree with, your father's belief. But in the end, we are all going to die, whether it's of old age or terrorism or cancer. We are all going to die. In the meantime, I want to be free--because that's all we've got. That's what's supposed to make this country better than Russia or Colombia or Egypt. We're free and we have the RIGHT to privacy (among many other rights). It isn't a PRIVILEGE, it's a RIGHT. That's what people forget. We're hung up on the right to Life, and sacrifice Liberty and Happiness in order to cling to something that is ultimately going to pass away for each and every one of us.

What's heartening to me is that my mom and stepdad, both staunch Republicans, very conservative, agree with me. I think that's a good sign.
[User Picture]
From:scotthuntington
Date:September 11th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
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There are so many variations of this theme that any come as cliche ... my apologies but:

I would prefer to die a free man than to live without.

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