Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: The Anniversary

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Anniversary

Everybody's remembering today, even more than we've remembered on this date for the first four anniversaries. You can't help but note the date, but it seems to me that it carries more weight than before. Five years is starting to be a long time, and perhaps the anniversary is heavier this time because we're realizing that we're not dealing with the events of September 11, 2001, as fully as we should have. Certainly we don't need to shrug off our feelings and move on to something else, but we need to learn what there is to learn, absorb it into our being and way of life, and start moving forward again.

The September 11 attacks have often been compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II. But on the fifth anniversary of that event, December 7, 1946, the U.S. and its Allies had already won World War II more than a year earlier. Tojo had been captured and would be hung a little more than two years later. Hitler had died of a self-inflicted gunshot as Soviet forces advanced on Berlin more than 18 months earlier. Mussolini had been killed by partisans in Italy a bit before that. Americans (along with their European allies) had risen to and addressed the challenge of Pearl Harbor.

In contrast to that, most of the challenges from September 11 are still where they were five years ago. Osama bin Laden, who the Prez declared was "wanted dead or alive," is still waiting for American justice. The Washington Post reported yesterday that U.S. forces have had no credible leads toward finding the terrorist in more than two years. Instead, we're mired in a no-win situation in Iraq that continues to deteriorate even further. Saddam was a bad guy, no question, but he wasn't the bad guy we needed to get at that moment. In fact, the various threats that we were told he presented as a pretext for going to war never quite seemed to pan out--we've put a huge effort into a war that's been completely beside the point.

Even more than a misguided war, however, we haven't been able to face down the tactics used by terrorists. They bring about sudden, unexpected violence to scare their targets into some sort of submission. Although we can't always stop them from attacking, we don't have to cave in to their fear. And yet that's exactly what we've been doing. The Bush administration has also been ruling through fear. The terrorists frighten us, and the Bushies use them as boogie men to keep the fear alive. Terrorists might be under your bed! Better vote for the Republicans. Terrorists might blow up your workplace! Better vote for the Republicans. Terrorists are going to kill you if you don't watch out! Better vote for the Republicans.

This anniversary feels so burdensome because we're getting terror and fear from both sides. Until we own up to our own fear, face it down, and move forward with our lives and our country, we'll be stuck here. When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, I was very surprised at how little had been rebuilt at Ground Zero. I understand that there have been controversies about the memorial at the World Trade Center site, and I agree that something shouldn't be thrown up for its own sake, but the area around the site should be rebuilding. It's all a part of the inertia we're experiencing. We should never forget the events that will always be associated with this date. But we have to absorb them and keep them with us, we have to absorb the lessons they teach, and we have to move forward.


At 1:54 AM, September 12, 2006, Anonymous Ron said...

Excelent post Doug.

Indeed, we've got nothing to fear but fear itself.

Time to kick the shits out!

At 5:14 PM, September 12, 2006, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Keith Olbermann aired a fantastic commentary yesterday from Ground Zero. You can see it at

At 3:08 PM, September 13, 2006, Anonymous Doug said...

Here's the link to the Olbermann piece. It also has a transcript of his remarks if you'd rather read than download the video.


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