GADFLY: Our 9/11 Mourning is Misdirected

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Are we safe yet? From 9/11 commemoration hysteria, I mean.

It astounds me that every year since the tragedy (and this year more than ever before), we don sackcloth and ashes to bemoan the untimely and tragic deaths of 2,974 innocents, and in the process, pay homage (if you buy the official story) to a bunch of ragtag zealots for bringing an entire country to its knees, supposedly with a handful of sharp objects.

Doesn't anyone understand that, by doing so, what we're doing is actually celebrating the terrorists' success, and doing what we're supposed to so assiduously avoid, namely hand them yet another victory.

Where is the outrage?, I constantly wonder on these Groundhog-Day-like occasions, which should be righteously targeted at the people who allowed this disaster to happen? Why did the supposedly most exceptional country on earth—-you know, the one our politicians ask for God to bless at the end of every speech they make—-fall victim, again according to the official story, to a tiny band of dedicated madmen who managed to turn the most elaborate, gargantuan, expensive defensive apparatus ever amassed in the history of mankind into an ineffectual outfit more characteristic of the Keystone Kops?

Why is George Bush, who ignored the warnings leading up to the event and who couldn't even get off his butt with anything like a sense of urgency to assume his role as commander-in-chief when he was told the country was under attack, given a place of honor in the ceremonies commemorating the 10th anniversary of a tragedy he allowed to happen?

And why is Rudi Giuliani, whose failure to learn, much less apply, any of the lessons he should have learned from the first attack on the World Trade Center made him directly responsible for the deaths of over 400 of New York's first responders eight years later, allowed anywhere near those ceremonies, much less to parlay that abject incompetence into a lucrative consulting career and even a shot at the presidency?

Oh, I know: in the words our current president used to explain why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, aren't being prosecuted (or even investigated) for war crimes: We're supposed to look forward, not backward, which, of course, flies in the face of the very raison d'etre for the 9/11 commemorations.

When you stop to think about it, the direct (and I emphasize that word) effect of what happened on 9/11 actually impacted a relatively small number of people. How many relatives, friends, acquaintances, fellow workers, businesses, etc. do 3,000 people have connections to? 20,00? 50,000? Maybe even 100,000, but not much more, in a country of (at the time) about 280 million people.

The main reason the events of that day affected the country as a whole was because of our government's reaction to it, and, of course, because of our collective astonishment that our government could have let it happen. Just like the last sneak attack on our citizens, Pearl Harbor, the events of 9/11 had a far greater penumbral, than immediate, effect because of the war(s) it caused us to enter/start, than the event itself ever had.

Make no mistake: the events of 9/11 aren't commemorated to honor, or even to avenge, the memory of the people who died on that day; it's commemorated as part of a continuing effort by our government to justify everything it's done in reaction to it. 9/11 cannot be allowed to fade from the country's collective memory because, if it did, people would never tolerate the atrocities our government has committed in the name of those who died on that day. As if to accentuate that purpose, have you noticed how the government comes up with some new (but inevitably either non-existent or inconsequential) terrorist threat just about the time of the commemoration? This year was no exception.

The real outrage, and the event that truly deserves the attention and collective grief of the entire country, is the deaths that occurred after 9/11. Over 6,000 American troops have died in the two wars that were started using 9/11 as a ruse, and that doesn't count the thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and who knows what other nationals we've killed as a result of those wars, or the tens of thousands more who've been wounded.

One could argue that dying was one of the consequences the men and women who volunteered for the military knew was a risk of their willingness to fight, whereas the victims on 9/11 never thought dying was a risk of going to work that day, which makes them more worthy of our collective sympathy. But injustice comes in various forms, post-9/11: it is no less unjust for soldiers to die as cannon fodder in wars they didn't start, and never should have been started, than for civilians to die in ones they didn't start either but are being fought in their names.

But the crowning irony of the consequences of 9/11 is that while we've engaged in an exercise of collective grief every September 11th for its relatively few victims, in that same time, over 150,000 people in this country have been murdered, nearly 6 million people have died of cancer and untold thousands more have died because the supposedly richest country in the world couldn't figure out a way to provide them the health care they needed to live. But we don't hold annual rituals of remembrance for those victims of 9/11, even though that's what they are, because with the untold trillions this country has wasted fighting two (now three) unnecessary wars, more police could have been hired, more medical research could have been done and the deaths of millions of uninsured citizens could have been prevented.

So, forgive me if I didn't join our country's collective lamentation about the events of 9/11, since I would rather mourn the lack of accountability of the people who let it happen, or the people who continue to be its victims, far-removed from where it happened though they may be.

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