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Nine Eleven – Thoughts. Mine and others.

September 13, 2011 - Austin Porter
Excerpts from Letters to the Editor, New York Times, Sunday edition

…I am hopeful that America will finally move beyond 9/11…can we finally become more than a nation of victims and vengeance?...Can we (listen) more to reason than to rage?...Can we, like every nation in Europe that has been targeted by terrorists, acquire the confidence to walk beside our fears…not let feat consume…our defense dollars, our civil liberties, our ability to listen to one another….

…I was in the South Tower…90th floor. I escaped…13 of my colleagues lost their lives. I have been living with the memories of that day…But enough is enough! When will we stop this nonstop memorializing?...I know families who lost loved ones…they ask that they stop being reminded constantly about what happened. A quiet and tasteful memorial …should be enough. It is time to close the door on the event and let the survivors live our normal lives…

…I experienced 9/11…as an American mother, then as a “Muslim other”…I didn’t know whether my son, who worked (for) a bank at the WTC, was in New York or London…when he called I thought of all the other mothers who didn’t get that…phone call…(I prayed) that the perpetrators…would have no connection to the Middle East…20 years integrated in American society…now perceived differently…volunteered to speak wherever I was invited, to try to distance (my religion) from the atrocity perpetuated in its name…my neighbor of eight years heard me speak at a church, she burst out, “I didn’t know we had Muslims in the cul-de-sac” …10 years later… efforts to distance terrorism from Islam…futile…Islamofphobia…the last allowable prejudice…

*********************************** I worked with a Sikh. On 9/12, his office cubicle was covered with posters and bumper stickers that made clear that Sikhs loved America. I felt two things: Why would an American citizen, which he was, feel compelled to grovel like this, to kiss the ass of the asses who think that to be American is to be exactly like them. And why would he think that those malicious, hateful, ignorant asses who conveniently and erroneously associate turbans with Islam, why would he suppose that those jerks would be dissuaded from attacking him because of a pro-American sticker attached to the bumper of his car?

Which isn’t to say that it’s OK to attack American Muslims, or anyone else for that matter.

I sometimes wonder if there is an algorithm that the networks, advertisers and the hired guns who manage our politicians use to determine how long to milk a “national tragedy?” We have 9/11, Columbine, Virginia Tech...... The first WTC bombing has faded into the past. Katrina as well. Will the probably murdered Robyn Gardner make the one year anniversary cut? Who decides these things?

I am not downplaying the loss of life. For those people who died, many though not all American, many though not all Christian, and the family, friends, and colleagues left behind, September 11, 2011 was a sad day, indeed. And for those unfortunate people who were injured – a woman at the Pentagon severely burned – I can’t begin to imagine their suffering.

But just to get a little perspective, more people die in traffic accidents every year then died on 9/11. I don’t think the people they leave behind feel less sorrow because their loss isn’t Today Show worthy.

The sanctions that were in place during Clinton’s time in office killed over half a million Iraqi children. When Madeline Albright was interviewed by Lesley Stahl, she didn’t question the figure. She replied, “We think the price is worth it.” The follow up should have been, “What is the “it” the price was worth?”

People die. Sometimes before their time. With 9/11, you can argue meta-reasons – foreign policy and the like. But on a personal level, there’s no rhyme or reason. Bad Luck. Someone gets to work early or on time, someone else is late. The unfairness of death is not unique to America. Grief, despite Westmoreland’s comments about the Vietnamese, is universal. Life is often, as the Buddhist say, suffering. Bad things happen. Sometimes they happen to you and the ones you love. All we can do is pick up the pieces and go on. Despite all the odds, try to leave the world a better place than when we arrived.

What was unique about 9/11, is that it happened here, on our soil.

A few days before 9/11/2011, we were told about imminent attacks planned by Ayman al-Zawahiri, three people already in the country and certainly up to no good, beware, beware. Today we’re told that Ayman al-Zawahiri is constantly on the run and Al Qaeda is so weak, they can’t get a 9/11 video tape out on time. Do you ever get the feeling you are being jerked around?

The thing that irks me most about 9/11, beside TSA at airports, the 3 or 4 trillion dollars borrowed to fund an unnecessary war, and the cheap and easy patriotism, is how poorly the first responders were treated before and after the event.

If I were Rudy Giuliani, I’d be ashamed to show my face in public. Perhaps we couldn’t see the attacks coming, though Rudy (and President Bush for that matter) didn’t seem particularly interested in Osama until 9/11. But what was under our control before and after the attack … forgetaboutit. The Faulty radios resulting in unnecessary death. Baloney about his onsite involvement in the cleanup. The air quality that the first responders were misled about.


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