Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2011

I feel bad saying this, because I think it makes me a legitimately bad person or, at the very least, is an indication that I have no real soul. However, I dread each September because I can't stand all of the "Never Forget" 9/11 propaganda.

I'm sure that I have, at some point in the past, mentioned my desire to eliminate all religious and cultural holidays and exchange it for a more generous, more universal but less inconvenient generic holiday system. I'll outline it in detail some time. I detest bullshit holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day, and although I enjoy the cultural aspects of Christmas and New Year's (don't get me started on Thanksgiving), I would prefer that the world didn't grind to a complete halt. With that in mind, try to imagine my reaction to the discovery just last year that September 11 has been christened Patriot Day.

While I (to no one's surprise, I'm sure) do not really find the commonly accepted definition of Patriotism to be a particularly good quality, I am at a loss to understand how this particular day can legitimately be called Patriot Day. Assuming, for the moment, that patriotism is a good thing, how are the victims of the tower attacks patriots in any way? They are surely no more or less patriotic than any random cross section of American citizens; the manner and circumstances of their deaths do not imbue them with any special qualities. They were victims of a tragic event and their memories do deserve to be honored, but no more so than any other dead human.

So what are the practical effects of Patriot Day? For one thing, it allows stores to sell cheap 9/11 crap. Commemorative plates, flags and tacky bumper stickers are easy to come by any time of the year, but around September 11, it's difficult to even open your eyes without seeing something terrible being proudly sold or worn. Another product of Patriot Day is that it completely hijacks the news. All of it. If I were a crooked politician and wanted to pass some controversial law, I'd probably try to bring it forward in early September while all the "journalists" are pulling musty 9/11 props out of the closet.

The real problem, however, is that it stirs up anger against a phantom enemy. I'm not saying that al Qaeda isn't real, or that Osama bin Laden was framed, but they aren't larger than life supervillains. They are all just people like us with normal abilities and marginal worldviews. The only special thing about them is that we have given them pedestals to stand on, we have framed them as world-class villains and treated them like evil masterminds. I am convinced that every time Americans shout "never forget," an al Qaeda soldier gets an erection. And here's the thing: we now associate the September 11 attacks with our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So Patriot Day turns civilians innocent of war (with the exception of the Pentagon attack) with a war that they had no association with.

To me, Patriot Day is a celebration of warfare, a reaffirmation of our absurd military adventures in the Middle East. "Never Forget" sounds an awful lot like "Remember the Maine."


Miriam said...

I agree completely!! While we are, no doubt, a minority, more and more people are losing patience with all of this glorifying people simply because they died! What exactly did they do to merit all this honor? Died as victims? On a daily basis, people all over the world die; victims of war, violence and starvation. Then let's remember them too!

Ed said...

"people all over the world die; victims of war, violence and starvation."

Exactly, 1/2 a million just in Iraq since the invasion

It is fine to mourn the dead, but we would do well to remember American lives are not the only ones that matter.