Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Eleventh Cents

The Eleventh the Eleventh, remember the Eleventh…oh, god, just…STFU. I say that not because September 11, 2001 wasn’t a historical day for Western civilization or that I consider the deaths of civilians in New York and D.C. at the hands of terrorists to be trivial. I say STFU because my American brethren basically haven’t learned a single fucking thing since the most devastating attack on U.S. soil over a decade ago.

To wake up on September 11th is to know there will be the obligatory changing of Facebook profile pictures to some patriotic nut-grabbing machismo fuckshit like “Never Forget!” Never forget what, that the American government, endorsed by the republic that voted it into office, did something to upset a bunch of undernourished, mal-televised Muslims? No, no, no; instead of ever asking, “What the hell did we (as Americans) do to piss off the Sand People so much?” Americans are content to recall nothing more than innocent civilians were killed on 9/11 by people with values completely alien to their own. Of course, that the values of terrorists are completely alien to a number of Americans – well, conservative Republicans at least – is horseshit. They attack us, we attack them, they attack us, we attack them…sounds like shared values to me. No, no; instead of asking what caused 9/11 and waging a war on the hearts of the enemy or trying to change the circumstances that lead to the enemy’s hatred, The United States simply retaliates with force and digs itself in deeper into the Middle East, physically as well as ideologically. This, of course, causes great surprise among Americans that an enemy who feels that they’ve nothing to live for but the rewards of martyrdom will attack them again and keep trying. Indeed, never forget how fucking stupid Americans are.

I am not saying the victims of September 11th deserved what they got. Don’t be ridiculous; they were civilians and civilians are never legitimate targets, although I guess that depends upon your theory of warfare. (A theory of warfare that should apply to whatever tragedies U.S. foreign policy may have led to, no?) But being more patriotic about 9/11 is not going to cause the enemy to go away, it just makes them madder. Terrorists don’t see American patriotism as resolve and think, “Wow, they’re really motivated. Let’s stop trying to kill them.” Paying lip-service to one’s patriotism doesn’t do anything to solve anything on the geo-political stage. It just makes things worse. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nationalism is a concept that has really fucked over everyone who isn’t rich or powerful. (And on so many levels; I’m not just talking about sending Joe Blow off to war, though that is the most fucked example).

If you really want to be patriotic and make the terrorists pay for what happened on 9/11, then by all means enlist and go get ‘em! I’m behind ya, really I am. Just don’t keep half-assing it. Either kill all them mother fuckers – I mean, like, the whole fucking Middle East – or STFU and build some bridges instead of burning them. Either take the gloves all the way off or send the Middle East a care package full of kittens. Stop being pussies and have some goddamn conviction on one side of the fence or the other. Just don’t tell me to, “Never Forget,” because every time you do it, I’m going to think – I mean, KNOW – you never gave those trivial words a second thought. And I hate thoughtless schmucks. They wind up being the kind of assholes who fly planes into building full of regular people.
[Want to play the "Never Forget" game? It's easy! Grab some friends and some shot glasses and every time someone comes up with something that shouldn't be forgotten in relation to 9/11, everyone has to do a shot. For example, Never Forget that since 9/11, it's okay for the NSA to monitor all your communications without any reason! Or, Never Forget that your precious freedom is the freedom to drink as much carcinogenic cola as you want just as long as you don't peacefully protest  corporate greed! Obviously, there is no object to the game, much like being 'patriotic' once a year.]

Update: 9/15/13

The Gentleman Tony responded to this entry but Blogger decided his post was too long to qualify as a comment. Before I post his reaction, I would just like to say that sometimes I post entries really to amuse just myself, though any given post will indicate – at least to a small degree – how I actually feel about some things. Sometimes, there is a lot of sarcasm with my words and I do realize that people cannot always or even most of the time know when I am being sincere and when I am not. With that in mind, The Gentleman Tony’s response is posted first, followed by my response to his response…

The Gentleman Tony: Before I comment on your blog, I wish to declare that you've been my best human friend for more than half of my life and will continue to be so. I also wish to acknowledge that, unlike myself, you have in your lifetime made the ultimate commitment to our country and, therefore, speak from a unique perspective that the majority of us Americans do not have. I can also tenuously relate to some of the emotions that led you to write what you did. However, I do have to dissent with the specifics of what you said.

In your first paragraph, you assert that Americans have not learned "a single (expletive) thing since the most devastating attack (ever) on U.S. soil." I have to disagree. Americans have learned something. They have learned that they are under imminent danger of a terrorist attack at any time. Obviously, 9-11 was not the first terrorist attack on U.S. soil and, indeed, not even the first terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. However, for those old enough to have recollections of it, the magnitude of the events of September 11, 2001 will forever remain in the DNA of every American, and will be involuntarily recalled during any future terrorist attack, whether involving a shoe bomber, an explosive device planted in the crowd of the most glorious of all marathon races, or even a failed bungled plot almost comical in its ineptitude.....if not for the perilous horror that would have occurred if it had succeeded.

You then discuss "the obligatory changing of Facebook profile pictures to some patriotic nut-grabbing machismo (B.S.) like 'Never Forget!'" If you had used the quote "These Colors Don't Run," I could have possibly bought the preceding characterization but, to me, "Never Forget" simply means that we should never forget the horrific events of that day, of the lives that were lost and the absolute heroism of so many on a day that represents a dividing line in our history. No macho posturing at all.

Now, the question is, what is appropriate behavior come September 11, 2014 and on September 11ths beyond and, to your point about being people "patriotic once a year," how should we conduct ourselves on days when the calendar does not read September 11? Is merely posting "Never Forget", or a variation on that theme, adequate? For some who post and change their profile pictures on that day, it truly is an honest reflection of the pain and poignancy that they feel on that anniversary. However, for some, posting a picture or a social media update telling us to "Never Forget" is just a clicheous thing to do, typing a two-word phrase inherent with meaning without thinking about the significance of it at all, and then amplifying this thoughtlessness later that day by posting a funny video or meme proving that they were able to persevere through the pain of the anniversary of 9/11 and get on with their lives, oh, about an hour later. After all, if we actually pause to remember the tragedy and attempt to understand its implications throughout the day, the terrorists win. It's not my place, however, to question the motives of each person who does this. I would encourage you, though, Theory, not to make broad, sweeping generalizations or speak in absolutes. Not EVERYONE posts "Never Forget" for the wrong reasons (nor everyone for the right reasons); your blog does not acknowledge this, and I'll wager more people do it for the right reasons.

It was once proposed to make 9/11 a Federal holiday, a sort of National Day of Mourning, and it would have been interesting to see how that would have played out were that to have been enacted into law. Would it truly be a Day of Mourning, or would it have been bastardized over the years? Imagine Walmart having a 9/11 Sale, the official 9/11 Federal holiday falling only on the second Friday of September (three-day weekend! yay!), regardless of the calendar day ala Martin Luther King Day, and family picnics. Memorial Day and Veterans Day (the latter originally called Armistice Day, to commemorate the end of World War I on the Western Front) were enacted to acknowledge the service and sacrifice our soldiers made, especially in wars where the casualties dwarfed the casualties of 9/11, and the majority of American people do not spend those days going to parades or watching documentaries of American history, and this I can confirm personally. When I attended a Memorial Day parade in which my future stepdaughter marched as a Girl Scout ON MEMORIAL DAY, I didn't exactly need to plop a chair somewhere hours before just to get a good vantage point of the festivities, and I will never forget the looks of appreciation veterans gave us just for clapping as we watched them march in a Memorial Day parade on Memorial Day, and there were few with us. I can do a better job of appreciating our veterans, we all can. We can do a better job making our voices heard in matters regarding conditions at V.A. hospitals, the quality of care for our veterans returning from the Middle East, and survivor benefits (not to be confused with demanding more funding for the military-industrial complex). For those who post "Never Forget" on 9/11, how many made their voices heard when First Responders or their surviving spouses had to go through all kinds of technical loopholes to get the payouts they deserve? As I said, we can all do a better job but, then again, my profile picture did not change during 9/11.

As far as what was the proper retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 9/11, yes, absolutely, we should have responded with force. Attempting to learn "What the hell did we (as Americans) do to piss off the Sand People so much?,” as you encourage, is all well-and-good (supporting Israel, which I believe is a moral obligation, is one logical answer), but we absolutely had to go into Afghanistan because you cannot let over 3,000 people die from a terrorist attack and become merely introspective. Getting involved in Iraq, a country without a role in the events of 9/11, is another matter (more anon).

Your concluding suggestion, perhaps somewhat facetiously, of enlistment for those who wish to be patriotic and make the terrorists pay for 9/11 (forget for the moment that we have, largely, made those responsible pay for it) betrays some logical flaws. For one, enlisting does not guarantee where your services will be allocated. You may wish to enlist with the desire to battle the Taliban, and find your ass in Iraq or Syria, fighting a battle you may not believe in. If you wish to fight the terrorists themselves, well, who are they, and where are they at? Compare this to the advent of United States involvement in World War II, when we declared war against a country who attacked Pearl Harbor, whereupon their Axis allies declared war on us. Clearly-defined enemies with clearly-defined boundaries, and a clear moral imperative for the United States to defeat them. Thankfully, we did not ask ourselves what we did to piss off the Japanese so much.

Theory Parker: The Gentleman Tony said that Americans have in fact learned something from 9/11, “They have learned that they are under imminent danger of a terrorist attack at any time.” Attacks are possible, certainly, but the dangers are quite exaggerated. The propaganda campaign by a media that understands that fear sells has been quite successful. There is a much greater chance that I am in danger of getting bit by a shark, struck by lightning, or attacked by a drunk neighbor than be caught up in a terrorist attack. Still, yes, as individuals and a nation we should remain vigilant and have greater situational awareness than is standard-operating-procedure, but let’s not forget that the two most recent spectacular tragedies, Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon bombing, were not perpetrated by rogue/sleeper cells of terrorists. (Everyone knows it was the Illuminati’s work…THAT’S a joke, btw). Furthermore, the belief that we are always in imminent danger does mean the terrorists have won (a matter of degrees, of course) but the belief has resulted in Americans giving away many of their Constitutional freedoms without so much as a dull roar. So, if indeed Americans did learn something from 9/11, what it really learned is that they do not deserve either security or liberty, to paraphrase a great man. So I concede that Americans may have learned something, but if they did, it wasn’t a lesson with any good result.

What lesson should have resulted then? I believe 9/11 should have caused Americans to think deeply, pause, and reconsider its foreign policies. (After we retaliated against those responsible, naturally. More on that in a bit.)  Unlike, WWII – in which Germany had already declared war on the U.S. and Japan surprised America by bombing Pearl Harbor because they were after our resources in SE Asia – 9/11 was the direct result of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, a policy that props up Israel. Whether supporting Israel is the right or wrong thing to do is largely irrelevant; U.S. policy makers have long known what results from supporting a Jewish state. As I said on that very day, 9/11, “I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner.” Instead of reconsidering a foreign policy (which is more than just about Israel, duh) that causes a great number of people in the Middle East to hate America, Americans go to the polls and continue to vote people into office who will maintain the status quo, thus perpetuating a fear of imminent attacks upon themselves. While there may be any number of reasons people don’t act in their own interest, this particular instance of turning a blind eye to what may potentially be one’s own destruction, to say nothing of willingly tossing aside liberties thanks to said elected representatives, is a head-shaker, at least to me.

I do agree with The Gentleman Tony that it was the correct move to attack Afghanistan in response to 9/11, certainly. But as always, America stopped short of getting the job done, so to speak. I personally come from the Sun Tzu school of war, not that I ever would want to go to war but if I did, which calls for crushing your enemies completely so you don’t have to worry about them in the future. Granted, such an approach is usually not practical (for example, the Allies considering invading Russia after WWII), but when you’ve got the means, you should literally eradicate your enemies. The current War on Terror is, in my opinion, pussyfooting around with terrorists for reasons I will not speculate here. At any rate, the current administrative modus operandi continues to put U.S. citizens at risk if, again, there really is such imminent danger from terrorists.

All that aside, do some people post “Never Forget” to sincerely commemorate the fallen on 9/11? Absolutely. But I contend that such people are in the minority. No, instead, the sense I get from people attempting to cry, “Never Forget,” is maliciousness, that they are never going to forget what them A-rabs did to us and some day they gonna lynch them a towel head if theys get the chance. Again, people learning no useful lesson from that fateful day, just “Strike back, and if they strike us back for striking them back, we’ll strike back again.” Meanwhile, said people have no real connection to anyone who was actually affected by the events of 9/11. Perhaps they consider themselves patriots, but as I’ve said, nationalism – responsible for killing SO many people – is one of the worst ideas humans have ever come up with.

Do I hope people aren’t as convoluted as I believe they are? Sure, but at the end of the day I do not buy the premise that people are basically good; I believe the opposite. That’s just my opinion, though. I could be wrong.

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