Monday, September 05, 2011

Dreading 9/11

OK, so next Sunday is 9/11/11, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in rural Pennsylvania.

I'm dreading it.

Why? Well, there's the massive revisionism that has been going on for years, especially with regard to the real-time performance of President Bush. I remember how that day went down. Bush spent the day flying all over the country in search of a safe haven, leaving sub-ordinates to figure out what was going on. And then, after playing duck-and-cover for two days, he came out on TV and made a speech that exuded confusion and fear. In the years that have passed since then, Bush and his advisors have created a mythos portraying him as the "decider-in-chief" who stepped forward in a manly fashion and took charge of the situation. After all, he went to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium!

A little-known fact: the National Geographic channel (NatGeo) is part of the Murdoch empire. So, small surprise, they've given Bush an interview in which he can tell his side of what actually happened that day. "I felt fear, grief, ..and determination" or some such nonsense.

But that's really only the half of it. What really gets me is this effort to turn 9/11 into some kind of holy day, along with the "Ground Zero" part of Lower Manhattan into a shrine. It seems grotesque to me how people embrace their own victimhood, especially citizens of the richest country in history. This narcissism, this feeling that we are uniquely betrayed by the evil of others is mind-boggling.

Our electorate refuses to come to grips with the violence we export. Mind you, I don't have a problem with commemorating the victims of 9/11. But really, well over a hundred thousand people were killed by our invasion of Iraq. And we still don't have a good explanation for why we did that!!

At its core, American exceptionalism is nothing more than narcissism. It's a very popular cultural movement (Who dares speak against national self-love!?) but it's been quite destructive over the past decade. So when the same people who endorse "pre-emptive" air attacks against Iran, who cheered on when our drones started falling in Libya, and who basically root for the expression of American force as the answer to all of our international problems - when these people weep about our victimhood on 9/11, it's hard to swallow.