Get over yourselves
To the ostentatious anniversarial mourners of the 9/11 attacks
Let me preface this essay by saying that I really do have sympathy for those of you out there who lost someone close in the attacks a year ago. The rest of this essay does not apply to you.
Furthermore, I suppose that there may exist people who spend their lives in a constant state of debilitating sorrow for all the murder and other bad things that go on in this country and in the world. If you are such a person, the rest of this essay also does not apply to you.
If you're not in one of those two groups of people, and you're still spending today making a big deal about the GREAT TRAGEDY where SO MANY PEOPLE DIED, the rest of this essay is just for you: get over yourself already. Already in the last few days I've been hearing you gear up for it, with anticipatory strains of woe. You've already sponsored interminable talks with titles like, "how the world will never be the same" and "remembering the thousands that died one year ago". You and people like you are going to make today positively dreadful, not getting any work done and making it difficult or impossible for the rest of us to do so. Never before a year ago, and not really since, did you ever spare a single thought for all the people murdered out there for whatever stupid reasons people murder other people, but just because these people had the luck (ooh, ok, that was a bit sarcastic even for me) to be killed in the company of so many others, you now go on and on at length about how they need to be specially remembered.
Right now, I know exactly what you're thinking. "What kind of awful person would say such things! Thousands died! We will never forget this day! It will live on in... in our memories forever!" Really? Here's a quick quiz: I want you to name the date that Pearl Harbor was bombed. What? You can't? Yeah, life goes on. Let's put this all in some more perspective...
A year ago, 2,801 people died in the attacks. (cite: CNN) That's a lot of people. Now, I don't know how many people were murdered in 2001 because I couldn't find it, but in 2000 there were 15,517 murders in the US (cite: FBI, as quoted in a Boston Globe article). Three years earlier, in 1997, there were 18,209 murders (cite: CNN). Extrapolating, I feel safe in saying that there were at least three times as many people in the US last year who were murdered by someone other than the terrorists. Even adding in the deaths from the attacks (which were, after all, murders) likely wouldn't even bring the total up to a five-year high. This fairly callous analysis is mostly just to demonstrate the hypocrisy of those of you out there mourning the deaths of a couple thousand people you have no connection to, while totally ignoring the deaths of more than ten thousand others.
Well, the terrorists certainly got your attention. And if you believe Bush's post-attack rhetoric about their motivations ("they did this because they were jealous of our freedom, and wanted to take it away")---which I don't, but I'll play along for a minute---boy howdy did it ever work. Despite the basic futility of trying to defend against someone who is willing to commit suicide to accomplish something, we have destroyed many freedoms in the name of security. For the most part (there are exceptions), we are just as insecure as we were before, except that we endure more inconveniences, indignities, privacy violations, and assorted rights violations than we have at any other point in recent memory. I could riff on this topic for hours at this point, but that'd make this too long (if it isn't already). Maybe in a later essay. For now, you can read this AP summary.
I have to say, though, as irritating as I find all the bleeding hearts that have been materialising in the days leading up to this anniversary, at least they aren't trying to sell me anything. If I see one more ad for a 9/11 commemorative, I'll just scream. The leeches are out in force on this one, selling everything from books, to watches, to purses, to coins and medallions; I am hard put to think of anything more crass or tacky than trying to make money off this event (or any other murder, or death in general, for that matter).
Well, I'm tired of typing now, so I'll wrap up. Basically, if you're going to be contemplative today---which is healthy, to a degree---don't forget to contemplate all those other people you didn't know who got killed in the last year. I'll close with a link to last Saturday's entry of Chris Baldwin's excellent comic Bruno, which nicely summarises my whole feeling on the matter.
(PS: It was December 7th, 1941.)
Feel free to link to this essay, but do so at its original link: http://www.blahedo.org/essays/911.html. Feel free to quote this essay in whole or in part, but please attribute it to me and (if on the web) link to the original.
Don Blaheta / email@example.com
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