"Why should we remember the victims of 9/11 with such fervency and forget...?"
cuito61 at onebox.com
Tue Sep 10 20:30:53 MDT 2002
September 11th & The Politics of Memory
September 10 2002
By Jennifer Loewenstein
(PC) - I just want to buy groceries. I dont want to be whipped into
a patriotic frenzy in which the dead of September 11th, 2001 are used
to generate hatred towards entire peoples and to prepare the nation for
another bloody war.
But its not possible. There are flags and God Bless America signs
everywhere; patriotic cookies and cakes; books and newspapers stacked
at the entrance of the store announcing 9/11 memorials, the Iraqi nuclear
threat, and the sponsors of world terror; there are American flag-pins
on the aprons of the check-out counter workers and bouquets of red-white-and-blue
carnations for sale and reminders in the windows that Were American
and Proud. And this is just a local midwestern grocery store.
Remember the heroes, remember the widows, remember the widowers, remember
the sons and the daughters and the brothers and sisters; lets visit
the 63 babies who will never know their fathers and listen to Diane Sawyer
recall each mothers unspeakable grief; lets replay the tapes, replay
the awful videos, blare the 9/11 Requiem on Public Radio, listen to the
TV pundits, read the mournful editorials, remind everyone again and again
that the United States was Attacked and We Wont Ever Forget It. Terror,
Terrorism, Terrorists, Terrorize: The lessons of September 11th have
already been lost.
Nearly 3000 people died in a crime against humanity in New York and Washington
D.C. in the late summer of 2001, a terrible crime that demanded justice
based in international law. Before the day was up, however, our politicians
were screaming for revenge, disregarding international institutions,
naming the alleged killers, denying cause and context, and gearing up
the military machine for the first possible strike all to the accompaniment
of the Congressional and media choruses singing their God Bless America
If other people in the world have suffered unutterable crimes and cried
out for justice again and again this fact has been buried even more deeply
for Americans in the self-righteous indignation and hypocritical memorializing
that our nations leaders have orchestrated for us for their own self-serving,
narrow and ugly ideological purposes. Side by side in every major national
newspaper today are articles remembering 9/11 and articles about the
coming war on Iraq. One might think the two were dependent on each other
Let us forget that between three and four thousand innocent Afghanis
died as a result of the US need for revenge more than one person for
every victim of 9/11. Let us deny the devastation, the poverty and desperate
hunger our War on Terror in Afghanistan has left in its wake. We must
forget that the most repressive, tyrannical, sadistic government in the
Middle East is our key oil ally; that of the nineteen killers aboard
the four hijacked US airplanes most came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt,
currently our friends and the recipients of massive amounts of US-made
weapons. We must forget the terror we sponsor in Iraq, the hundreds of
thousands of deaths our sanctions policy has caused over the last eleven
years. Lets forget that the US military presence throughout the Middle
East and Southwestern Asia has created an unprecedented degree of anti-Americanism.
Lets not talk about the tactics of intimidation we sponsor vis a vis
Iran and half the rest of the globe. Forget that most Europeans oppose
our bullying, aggressive stance toward Iraq. Forget about Arab and Muslim
public opinion altogether. Terrorists dont count.
Ignore the fact that Israel receives $5 billion in US foreign and military
aid to maintain its occupation of Palestine; to carry out a deliberate
policy of murder, intimidation, dehumanization, and dispossession. Raise
your self-righteous fist in anger to remind us that Israel is the only
democracy in the Middle East at least if youre Jewish. Tell me again
that killing more than 400 children and 1300 adults, besieging entire
cities and towns for months on end, wrecking the economic and social
infrastructures, terrorizing a population where more than 60% live beneath
the poverty line, preventing travel to and from work, school, and hospital
I want to hear the excuses again. I need to be reminded that obliterating
a refugee camp and rendering 13,000 civilians homeless is a just tactic
in a just war. I need to remember why dropping a 2000-pound bomb on a
crowded apartment building at night is a legitimate way to tackle your
enemies. I have to refresh my memory as to why imprisoning an entire
population and suffocating it to death merits massive US aid; why the
tears and grief of one victim should get front-page billing, while the
tears and grief of another are not even recorded.
Why should we remember the victims of 9/11 with such fervency and forget
the victims of so many other crimes against humanity? Can we learn nothing
more positive from such a catastrophe than how to unite a people in shallow,
vengeful indignation? Why should our own suffering teach us less how
to reach out and understand the afflictions of others than how to withdraw
into a shell of victimization that engenders and legitimizes cruelty?
Where are our memorials to the genocide of the Native Americans? To the
devastation of American slavery? To the victims of US imperial wars overseas
and at home? To the peasants and workers murdered by corporate economies?
To the victims of terror wrought by our own hands?
Remembering so selectively is to abuse both Memory and History. And it
is such a small step to understand the greater truth spelled out so simply
by the 17th century poet John Donne.
-Every mans death diminishes me because I am involved in mankinde; and
therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
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