Elephant in the room

Four and a half years or so. That seems to be the answer to the question, “When will it be time to talk about 9/11?”

Not that there haven’t been earlier responses, from Macca’s well-meaning but insipid tune “Freedom” to some Michael Moore film and other conspiracy theorists. But in the last few weeks, there have been two major motion pictures and seemingly dozens of TV movies, documentaries and “specials”.

So, what I am thinking about five years on? (And how many people will be ticked off by same?)

1. Well, let’s start with an analogy. I felt really badly when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. It wasn’t because I liked him , but because I didn’t. I didn’t trust him as Attorney General, and wasn’t convinced of his transformation as a populist. So when he was killed, I felt a sense of awkwardness.
But nothing like I felt in 9/11. When the Twin Towers were built in the 1970s, I thought they were awful. Ugly. Ostentatious. Did NOT enhance the classic New York City skyline. So when they collapsed, I felt just a little…guilty. And even more so, when in coming days, I learned they were targeted precisely because of their prominence. Actually, I felt AWFUL, as though, in some small way, it was somehow my fault.

2. I believe Usama bin Laden does not belong on the FBI Top Ten list. You may or may not know that he’s on there for “MURDER OF U.S. NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES” (I assume this refers to the two 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa; “CONSPIRACY TO MURDER U.S. NATIONALS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES” (ditto); “ATTACK ON A FEDERAL FACILITY RESULTING IN DEATH” (I guess the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.)
He is NOT on the list for 9/11, because, by the definition established by the FBI, the 10 Most Wanted list “is designed to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives who might not otherwise merit nationwide attention.” People such as Bucky Phillips, who allegedly shot three state troopers, killing one, and was fortunately caught on Friday. Now, one may not have known the name bin Laden after the African bombings or after a hole was blown in the Cole, but certainly no one has forgotten him now. Or have we?

3. The near deification of police departments all across America has made me somewhat…uncomfortable. I mean no disrespect to officers who died trying to save others, but the notion that, suddenly, police officers everywhere were exempt from criticism just didn’t/doesn’t sit right with me. (Apparently, other people have their Forbidden thoughts about 9/11.

4. I can’t help but to remember that most of the headlines in the New York Post in August 2001 about Rudy Giuliani were about his messy divorce.

5. Lots of people were collecting LOTS of money – over $1 billion by some estimates – after the event. Some people, including me, were made to feel somehow “unpatriotic” for not contributing. Some of these groups I had never heard of, and I was reasonably (I thought) suspicious.

6. Patriotism is NOT defined by American flag lapel pins, bumper stickers, or ratty-looking flags on their cars (which ought to be destroyed, respectfully), but by being an informed citizen, writing letters to the editor, writing letters to one’s representatives, and especially, voting. Which reminds me:

7. September 11, 2001 was Primary Day in New York State, ultimately postponed. As the law stands now, it will be Primary Day (for all races except the Presidency) on average every seven years. Some people think it ought to be changed to a week later, in order to “Honor the dead”. I don’t. September 11 is a GREAT day to exercise one’s freedom. Besides, I think the state primary is too late anyway. At some point in my adult life, all the primaries in New York were in June, but as they moved the Presidential primary earlier, they found the need to move the other primaries later, which tends to advantage the incumbents and/or the candidates with the most money.

8. After the towers were hit, there was a call from the American Red Cross for blood, anticipating that there would be large numbers of non-fatal casualties, when in fact there were maybe a couple dozen. Then the lines were out the doors of the blood centers, and there were complaints that they weren’t “more prepared” for an unprecedented outpouring. Some of the blood ended up being tossed, which created even more outrage. In fact, I’m a regular blood donor, scheduled weeks before to come in on September 19, and I was asked NOT to come in that day, but to wait a couple weeks. They thought (correctly) that I’d come back, and that most of these folks would not. So, if you donated after 9/11, and not since, go donate again; I promise you the need is great. This is not to say that the Red Cross didn’t make mistakes at that time, such as putting money people wanted to donate to 9/11 victims to the general fund. But go donate anyway.

9. I had some real difficulty with the 9/11 fund that parced out based on the likely income potential, so the three-piece suit families fared far better than the restaurant worker families. And I wonder what the plan will be for the next disaster.

10. I don’t care how he spins it now: GWB and his administration repeatedly mislead the American public into thinking there was a link between 9/11 and Iraq. But still: In a February 2005 Harris poll, 44% of Americans thought that there were Iraqis as pilots on the 9/11 planes, up from 37% in the previous poll. (I haven’t seen a subsequent survey.) This is not Iraq/9/11 terror link opinion, some alleged (though unlikely) secret meeting between Saddam and bin Laden. This is an issue of FACT. Reading that really hurt my head.

Well, that’s enough of THAT. We’ll see if anyone comes back tomorrow.
Moby turns 40 today, so of course he turned 35 five years ago. Must be strange.

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