Skip to comments.The truth about Ground Zero: Embrace the rage
Posted on 09/03/2002 8:02:23 AM PDT by mitchbert
NEW YORK -
IT HAS started. Reporters going to great lengths to assess the mood of America, one year after. Taking the pulse, taking the measure, of a nation.
We shall leave no victim unturned, no survivor unexamined, no hero unheralded, no fatherless baby unphotographed. It's what we do in this business, often without substance or insight, rarely with any grace. If journalism is history on the run, then the post-9/11 reportage has been a 12-month marathon that has taken us from lower Manhattan to Afghanistan and now, a week away from the anniversary of that fateful date, the Ides of September, back again whence we began.
It is a story without a deadline. It is a story that will never be put to bed.
And how do you feel, America?
Are you still grieving? Still frightened, cramped with dread in the pit of your stomach? Wracked with worry about what might yet come: further random acts of mass killing, killing that slides through the mail slot, hijacked aircraft, suicide bombers, foreign embassies under siege, international repudiation, celebrations on Arab streets over infidel bloodshed, another war in another godforsaken country; all but alone now in your combative truculence, so many staunch allies Canada included having no appetite for the grunt work of a bold war against terrorism, hiding behind the skirts of the United Nations.
It was so easy to pledge solidarity with the United States while the towers of the World Trade Centre were still smouldering, quite another thing a year on when the enemy du jour is not quite the stooge stick figure of a one-eyed religious zealot in a black turban, nor a Messianic madman-millionaire living in a cave, but a cunning political survivor whose Arab pals control the barrel price of oil. Fair-weather friends, the Frances and Saudi Arabias of this world, their bowels liquefying at the prospect of militarily ousting a tyrant whose forensically proven crime is what? gassing a few thousand Kurds. Oh, and lobbing some Scud-duds at Israel, and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. We can live with that, it seems. Just have the U.N. ask nicely for Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq and all will be fine.
How is America feeling? How do you think?
In a country of 275 million people, of all faiths and all ideologies, surely the most pluralistic place on earth, it is ill-advised to generalize. I do not know the mood of America. I doubt Americans know this themselves. But I will not make an odyssey of the United States in search of clues. I refuse. Were I not here for other, more prosaic reasons, I would not have made the anniversary pilgrimage to New York City at all. It is unseemly to poke about in the entrails of their sorrow merely because 365 days have passed. Surely this is a time to leave them alone so they can work it out for themselves.
In the self-conscious atmosphere of this dreaded anniversary, nothing is spontaneous and thus little is genuine. How can it be? Even the minute of silence that all Americans have been asked to observe on Sept. 11 is intrinsically contrived. How to properly remember men and women and children whom most Americans never knew? That valley in the shadow of death is the intimate purview of relatives, loved ones, friends. Not our terrain, we the oglers. The media, however sympathetic or well-intentioned, cannot truly get inside the heart and soul of America. Certainly no foreigner can do it. Best to acknowledge up front that we are looking at America through a glass, darkly. And to understand that most Americans, who genuinely do feel grief on behalf of those strangers who were murdered, will more accurately be mourning the country this used to be, before 9/11.
On the day, the U.S. will be awash in remembrance, but I fear the unavoidable bathos of it, the exhibitionism. Cheap sentimentality will not make Americans feel any more loved. And it will not make them any more secure in a world where anti-Americanism is the new currency.
For many, the contempt towards America is bred in the bone, nurtured from the cradle, even though the instructors of hate know nothing at all about the United States, have never been there, never even been exposed to that reviled American culture because their lives are backwards and their living circumstances primitive. Religious totalitarianism, the most dire threat to political stability and world peace, has cast the U. S. as the Great Satan, so that its citizens have no human value and a Jewish American newspaperman can have his throat slit on video for no reason, not a one.
Others, and here I include a wide segment of Canadians, are alternately envious and resentful, feeling smug toward the U.S. but at the same time evincing all the qualities of an inferiority complex. They include an instinctively anti-American intelligentsia (or pseudo-intelligentsia) that almost immediately, before the sun had even risen on Sept. 12, began to mitigate and exculpate and otherwise justify the terrorist attacks in a chorus of moral equivalency. Some espoused the "twin sentiments" of the occasion yes, it's terrible what's happened, but ... hardly surprising, had it coming, brought it upon themselves, now Americans know how it feels. And quite a few, without a blush of embarrassment, revelled in America's misery. Harold Pinter, the acclaimed British playwright, described the U.S. as the "authentic rogue state" (a sentiment and a term used also in the pages of this newspaper yesterday by one of my colleagues), arrogant and indifferent to international law. Writing in Granta magazine, after Sept. 11, after the start of the military campaign in Afghanistan: "The rogue state ... has effectively declared war on the world. It knows only one language bombs and death."
Bombs and death the lingua franca of terrorism. But victims in the United States Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan don't count.
No, I don't know how America feels. But I know how I would feel, were I American. Indeed, how I do feel, on behalf of Americans, and as a North American-raised citizen of the world: Enraged.
As consumed with fury now as I was on the night of Sept. 11, 2001, when I stood at the edge of the killing field that had been the twin towers. In the pale luminescence of moon glow, the sight was monstrous.
It is important, I think, to stay angry, because only rage can stoke the purposefulness needed to confront what lies ahead. The truth is, there's nothing more to be done for the victims of 9/11, little to be done on behalf of those who loved them and will miss them forever, but much to be done in expunging terrorist cells and terrorist regimes from the face of the Earth.
That's the only truth I found at Ground Zero.
Maybe you just had to be there.
Canada hasn't forgotten that horrible day. Our Prime Minister probably would like to, but he's an idiot and a disgrace to this nation and our history. We are counting the days to his retirement.
A nice succinct and accurate statement.
Very angry and supportive of an invasion of Iraq and other terrorist states as soon as Bush believes the time is right.
Ditto from the Great White North.
It costs Saudi Arabia less than 10 million dollars to bribe Bob Strauss, and other major lobbyists to defray the blame from them. Our politicians rather go and bomb a sitting duck like Iraq instead! We must extract revenge from the Moslem governments that contributed and facilitated this atrocity against us, especially Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt!
Ditto from New Orleans.
I have to call you on this one. Name names. Who? How many? Where?
Svend Robinson, a New Democrat MP (think the American Democrats basically in line with The Rev Jessie) is a son of Americans and a habitual anti-U.S. rabble rouser. You may have seen him in Palestine a few months ago trying to scold an Israeli soldier. Lucky for him he didn't get his head shot off.
I'm tempted to include Maude Barlow here but honestly I'm not sure, but in any case she's a complete nutbar regardless.
There's more that I just can't think of right now, but they manage to crop up from time to time and it's really annoying.
The only emotion coming from me anymore is rage. This lady nails it perfectly.
Isn't that the smug, airheaded fruitcake who hosts morning CBC Radio in Toronto?
HOST: "OK, all you people who just woke up, welcome back to the world, and in case you forgot how bad racism and homophobia are overnight, here's an interview with a Toronto Palestinian lesbian theatre company that will reinforce all the right stereotypes for you subliminally as you concentrate on the road.
"Shabala Mouwala, didn't Peter Gzowski once say that theatre and the arts are stories we tell ourselves as a community? Isn't that the role of the artist in society and the community?"
GUEST: "Why yes, and the power of these stories is that they bring together diverse experiences of our communities and educate the diversity of the dialogue. In my country we call this the 'm'khood baraka', the traditional coming together of the insipid and the tedious to form a larger whole of shared experiences that educate and diversify to fight against hate crime and economic injustice..."
O, how I hate CBC Radio.