Monday, September 11, 2006

The O.N.E. Post

As in, the "Obligatory Nine-Eleven" post.

I considered not writing this, because unfortunately it has become cliched and banal to discuss this terrible tragedy. Which is why we need to stop having week-long, multimedia memorials for it. We have to allow the grieving to become personal, for those affected, for those who lost loved ones, for those who responded to the attacks. The first year, it makes perfect sense to take a moment to reflect on the tragedy, the terror, and their aftermath. But five years on, we are now in that stage where any competent therapist would tell us we need counseling for our unresolved grief.

For those of us who were not directly affected by the attacks (which I get irritated that I sometimes have to remind people happened here in DC and in PA, as well as in New York), is it possible that the need to constantly revisit 9/11 is coming from the fact that we are less safe now that we were then? That the attack was used as the pretext for involving us in Iraq? That the Iraq-al Qaeda connection has since been proven false? Or is it because 9-11 was the first time in recent memory that the U.S. had been attacked on its own soil by non-Americans and we are still working through that paradigm shift?

Whatever it is, it needs to stop being manifested in 9-11 memorials. It does the victims of those attacks no honor to be trotted out annually for political or psychosocial gain. Every time video of those towers is aired, someone's child sees the death of their parent, someone's wife sees the death of her husband, someone's mother sees the death of her daughter. I know public tragedies are different from personal ones, in the sense that the former create a feeling that they are "owned" by everyone, while the latter generally affect only those closest to the victim. But shouldn't we begin, five years later, to let 9-11 become a personal tragedy for those affected? It does not mean it should not be a political lesson, a homeland security lesson, an example of what we hope to prevent in the future, but to cloak these concerns in public "grief" for the lost does dishonor to the lost.

It's time to begin seeing 9-11 as history, one that is still being written perhaps. But history nonetheless. Let us take a moment to think about those lost, those affected, and how we can each do our part to prevent anything like that in the future. But let's stop the presidential visits, the work closures, and endless media coverage that seem, five years later, to turn such a terrible day's events into gratuitous "tragedy porn."

UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens says it way better than I do:

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

I'm not bothering to read Hitchens (and his like). You nailed it enough for me, E.