Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hey, Remember Four Years Ago?

Aerial view of Manhattan from September 11, 2001...

...and New Orleans as it now wallows, September 11, 2005

Back before blow-jobs became an impeachable offense, Bill Clinton's second term was about establishing his Legacy - how would history judge the 42nd President of the United States?

Well, attentions may have been turned from policy to personal indiscretions, but now Clinton can thank his successor for securing both their legacies: Clinton's, as the Last Guy In Charge Before It All Went To Shit, and Bush's own as, well... a spoiled sociopath who only heeds his Blue-Blood thug colleagues and his own delusional fantasies. Cheer up, George, you dumb ape: not many presidents get the privilege of overseeing massive catastrophe and the deaths of thousands visited upon two iconic cities during their tenure.

Last night, my wife remarked that I seem rather nonplussed about the anniversary of "the worst terrorist attack on American soil." I shrugged, because that honestly is as worked up about 9/11 as I can get these days. I'd rather forget an event than remember it for the wrong reasons.

There is obvious value in remembering the events of 9/11, but not simply because seeing thousands of people die is upsetting. The true lesson of September 11 lies not in What happened, but Why: it was inevitable retribution for disasterously offensive foreign policy that only continues - and is in many ways even worse - today.

The collective reaction to the devastation of both Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 was one of utter disbelief: is this America or Somalia? While that speaks to the suffering of those in NOLA or NYC, it diminishes the suffering of those in Somalia, or post-tsunami Indonesia, or Afghanistan, or any other stricken country that is name-checked. Because it takes for granted that there are people suffering UNSPEAKABLY elsewhere all the time.

Yet Americans wanted to feel special in their suffering, that they alone possessed this pain, regardless that they were weeping for the same type of tragedy that has befallen Rwandans, Sudanese, Afghans, Palestinians, Isrealis, Iraqis, Kurds, Tibetans, Bosnians, and Serbs for decades. Rather than being remembered as the gruesomely ultimate lesson in Cause & Effect, September 11 has been fetishized by the War Corporation running America, its gravitas has been squished into the niftily tetrametric talking-touchstone "9/11". A nation weened on bad self-help books and instant gratification has commodified the catastrophe, replacing reflection with "Support Our Troops" stickers and wrapping not the dead but themselves in the flag.

9/11 has become America's favourite rape fantasy.

Some people have wondered aloud if July 7 - the date of the London Bombing - will be remembered by Britons in the same manner that Americans remember September 11. For their sake (and for their subsequent foreign policy), I certainly hope not.

"We need an instrument... to find out if loss could weigh." ~ Fugazi

Postscript:: I realize that, for a self-purported "music blog", a great number of words here have been devoted to politics. Sorry for those of you aching for me to post something from the new Afrirampo album, but my conscience won't allow otherwise. As Miles Rayner wrote in a wonderfully thoughtful post, "writing about anything else feels cheap."

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