Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Kitschification of Destruction

While I agree with Dr. S about what rememberence is, I have a slightly different take on the whole 9/11 event. I know that I risk being slammed hard for stating my feelings so starkly, but I don't think I am alone and 5 years later, I think we should all be able to speak frankly. For starters, it did NOT change my life as the media would have me believe. I resent the constant chanting that it did. I know what changes my life and what doesn't. The election of G.W. Bush changed my life, and that pre-dated 9/11. I am living in California and I have never been to New York. So while 9/11 is tragic, it might as well of happened in a different country.

Secondly, we missed a huge opportunity in our response to 9/11. It should have been a moment when he took advantage of world sympathy to build international coalitions and to reflect on the blowback of our foriegn policy. We should have redoubled our efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and worked with Arab leaders to bolster moderate Islam through humanitarian means. That is the long-term war we should have fought. Instead, we navel gazed and islolated ourselves.

Christopher Lydon,host of NPR's Open Source dug up an interesting quote from American Writer, Philip Roth. I don't think I have heard it put better than this. Philip Roth was being asked about the assessment of 9/11 and if we were gaining some wisdom from it. He said the following:

I really don't know and I don't care. That interests me as a citizen, but not as a novelist. September 11th is not something I can draw on at an imaginative level. The only story I can take from it is the kitsch in all its horror-not the horror in what happened, but the great distortion of what happened. It's almost embarrassing, the kitschification of 3,000 people's deaths. Other cities have experienced far worse catastrophes. America itself has inflicted some in its past, even if it was for the right reasons. I am not a pacifist. One wouldn't dream of slighting these people, it is awful, but we need to keep a sense of proportion about these things. What we've been witnessing since 9/11 is an orgy of national narcissism and a gratuitous sense of victimization that is repellant and it doesn't stop, even now it is impossible to watch a baseball game without having to listen to "God Bless America" before hand or without being asked to remember our heroes. I feel like saying ,"Stop. Dignity demands that you stop it."

This quote, according to Lydon, is from a long lost interview with Roth in 2002 in the Independent of London. It appeared on the web, quickly disappeared, and isn't referenced anywhere that I could find. Lydon mentioned having had the same experience. I searched high and low for a copy of the interview with no luck. So if anyone is able to dig it up, great! In any case, what he says is as true today as it was the day he said it.


Anonymous said...

I too am so sick of this "orgy of national narcissism." It is turning into a distressing militarization of our society.

We see sporting events increasing turned into ads for the military. We have airforce fly overs of what used to be escapist games. We have NFL players (and more and more college players too) running out on the field with oversized American flags as if the home team is going to do battle with Al Qaeda on the football field or something. It's embarassing. Does some linebacker from the U. Texas football team really think he's taking a stand for America by playing football? Does he think that his team is somehow more patriotically legitimate than the opposing team?

I find it especially annoying that, from the start, the people who do the most wailing about 9/11 are the people who before 9/11 most disliked New York City in particular and urban America in general. It is the John Rocker fans who are loudest in their commenorations of 9/11. While the urban Americans who might actually be targetted squirm uncomfortably in all of this.

Enough is enough. Let this be the last anniversary we commenorate or whatever it is that we're doing. 

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

This site was the best I could do. It definitely seems to have been taken off the Independent's web site and even the Wayback Machine can't find it. But I'll keep looking. 

// posted by Bell Curve

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bell Curve. You did better than I did!


// posted by USwest

Dr. Strangelove said...

I would take care to separate militarization from pride. Air force flyovers of sporting events is militarization; sewing US flags on your team's uniforms is pride.

I like RbR's point that a lot of militarists who want to "kick ass" over 9/11 never actually liked New York City. If they were to ask the New Yorkers themselves how we should respond to 9/11, the militarists would not like the answers... Manhattan went for Kerry 81.7%.

Anonymous said...

It's very telling that Manhattan voted overwhelmingly for new leadership in the first Presidential election after 9/11. Thanks for posting that information.

I remember that for the first few days, from 9/11 through Thursday, 9/14, people were not out flying flags. They were wearing black. It wasn't until the weekend that the shift to everyone having car flags and lapel pins took place. Black is the appropriate color of mourning.

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I first noticed the flag waving when Bush went to give his speech at "ground zero." It was part of the stage set.

Did anyone see Bush's address on TV last night? I'm getting over a cold and went to bed early...really early. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

US West said...

None of us waste our time, RBR. You know that.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean to say you would have watched if you weren't sick? Wow. I haven't watched his speeches for almost five years. It's only partly political animus. The other part is that he's such a bad speaker with a grating accent.  

// posted by LTG