Thursday, September 11, 2008

Solemn rituals mark seventh anniversary of 9/11

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Familiar rituals of grief marked the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11 on Thursday as thousands paid tribute at the attack sites, the presidential candidates laid flowers at ground zero and children mourned parents they can barely remember.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama called off their campaigns for the day, and in the late afternoon descended the long ramp into the pit of the World Trade Center site, bowing their heads and leaving the flowers in a reflecting pool.

At the Pentagon, 15,000 people turned out for the dedication of the first permanent memorial built at any of the three sites where hijacked planes crashed. It includes 184 benches that will glow at night, one for each victim there.

"Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days," President Bush said at the outdoor dedication.

More here.

Not to disparage the brave men and women who work to keep us safe, who, I'm sure, work their asses off, often risking life and limb, but the fact that we haven't seen a spectacular follow up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 most likely has very little to do with the efforts of President Bush. Indeed, I've posted here at Real Art numerous stories about how porous post 9/11 security has been here in the US, with wide open chemical plants and petroleum refineries, ports through which it would be fairly easy to move a "dirty bomb," and border checkpoints that have allowed to pass from Canada a serial killer with his bloody chainsaw. For that matter, waging illegal and senseless wars against the Islamic world has done nothing but make more terrorist attacks likely.

Frankly, I'm not sure why we haven't had any more attacks. My guess, to put it in football terms, is that 9/11 was something of a trick play pulled off by an inferior opponent--that is, if you're a shitty school like North Texas or Louisiana Tech, you might be able to score some points on USC or LSU, but you're not going to score that many. We were asleep at the wheel and they took it in for a touchdown, but it was unlikely then, and it continues to be unlikely now. Even though the White House hasn't really done much in terms of new effectiveness.

Beyond that, I'm realizing this year that, for me, 9/11 has jumped the shark. I'm no longer freaked out like I was for a few weeks after the event. I'm no longer frightened of America Gone Wild like I was well into the days of the Iraq invasion. I'm no longer frightened of the right wing's cold steel grip on American politics as I was until around Katrina and the wave of conservative gay sex scandals. I mean, I'm still angry about it all, but it's now part of a larger political anger, lodged deeply within an overall historical context going back decades.

That is, as observed by historian Andrew Bacevich, 9/11 comes straight out of US foreign and domestic policy establishment consensus dating from the late 1960s: both Democrats and Republicans have treated and continue to treat the planet as our market, secured by military force, both overt and by proxy, oppressing millions worldwide in the process, decade after decade. Nobody who died on 9/11 personally deserved it. It wouldn't be fair to say that we brought it on ourselves. It would be fair, however, to say that the actions of our government made it inevitable. Fuck bin Laden and all that. But the US created him. And the American establishment, rather than taking the obvious opportunity for some deep reflection and reassessment, has done nothing but ramp up and pump full of steriods the process that made him what he is.

And that's what makes me angry today. Not 9/11 itself, but everything surrounding it that made it happen. And it pisses me off that neither McCain nor Obama will do anything to change that process.