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Posts Tagged ‘The Rumpus’

The 9/11 Tribute In Light

It’s human nature to politicize things that ought not be politicized–even the weather. I have personally come to believe that politics is not evil incarnate or the instrument of the devil, as Bob Dylan once put it, but as natural a process as cell division in biology. Some day, a scientist will show the direct parallels between a cell’s meiosis and a polity dividing. It starts with memes, symbols, words, and codes. Soon, people are debating, disagreeing, self-identifying and self-segregating around those semions, just as surely as haploid cells divide in meiosis. Because I’m not a scientist, I had to content myself with writing a novel about this process. It’s called “The Ghost and the Hemispheres,” and I’m shopping it to agents now.

But we are political and we do seek out political differences, perhaps because of a genetic imperative to innovate. That’s why I should have expected a horrible, recrudescent strain of 9/11 backlash articles like this shitty one. Like a good leftist speaking in the codes of his faith, just like Michele Bachman does to her flock, the guy runs at the mouth with a lot of the same predictable schtick about the evils of American exceptionalism. Not stopping to figure out that it was outsiders who decided to single us out in 2001.

Maybe I should confess that I agree with 20% of the piece, specifically the idea of Sept. 11 as a dubious cultural rallying point. I have not been much enamored of the 10th year anniversary memorials for 9/11. The author calls it the “pornography of grief,” which is a nice touch. But mostly he slips into the kind of pedantic, “told-you-so” moralism that characterized the far-left writings after 9/11. Lest we forget, this kind of attitude smeared the entire left wing in 2002 and 2003 and allowed warmongers to launch their immoral war because they could easily con the political center into thinking everybody on the left was crazy. As a left-winger, I get pretty torn up when liberals are wrong, as many of them were when they said the United States deserved the attacks in New York and Washington for all of its sins. I’m sure there’s a folksy phrase for this fallacy: Maybe killing Peter to pay back Paul.  So I wrote this long tirade in the comments section of the Web site:

“This is an execrable piece. A piece that trades one fell morality for another like chips in a poker game, when in fact, as none of you can evidently see, the writer is willing to abdicate his morality altogether to settle petty political scores. He is unwilling to apply a simple categorical imperative that the murder of thousands of innocent people for religious reasons is wrong. If you think the Iraq war was wrong, as I do, for the simple reason that the United States wasn’t attacked by Iraq, then you must be willing to assert that the murder of thousands of Americans in for one man’s specious political calculation and religious chauvinism was wrong. The idea that “they hate us for our freedom” is stupid. The idea that Osama Bin Laden’s motive was the freedom of the Palestinians, whom most of the Arab world regularly spits on, is just as stupid. Bin Laden built himself up on American power and then turned on it. He decided to make thousands of Americans victim of an internecine squabble with his own government. To make him the moral voice of the oppressed Vietnamese or the Chileans is an act of stunning stupidity. But let’s talk about your celestial view. Isn’t Putting 9/11 into “perspective” a bit like putting the Manson murders into “perspective”? Yes, it was sad that a pretty pregnant lady got stabbed, but Charles Manson was right, the black people are oppressed, while rich white people are drinking champagne. This article offers the supreme intellectual dishonesty that anybody who lives in the United States and is willing to walk into a tall building, even to work, is worthy of being burned to death by jet fuel or defenestrated from the 87th floor for what has happened in Nicaragua, East Timor, Panama, Angola, El Salvador and Vietnam. There is no philosophy or ethics or morality that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of this viewpoint, and for the author to invoke unnamed children dying in huts is particularly pitiful; he’s not making the point that people should be equal but that misery should be. It’s anti-humanism at its worst. And if the author stops to think about it, it’s also an imperialist outlook. He’s not speaking FOR anybody. He’s just speaking against the United States as a sometime participant. And knee-jerk anti-patriotism is just as bad as knee-jerk patriotism. You all let that sink in. If you can. We all grieve in different ways; some of us get over it more quickly than others. I live in New York and did not choose to watch all the coverage tonight because I don’t want my grief to be preserved in amber. But if somebody else decides they want to be part of the grief–to give to charities, to comfort friends or to simply imagine that it could have been them (because if you’re an American, it could have been), then that’s his choice. If you decided that you did not belong to a country that day, that’s fine too. But be warned: you’re sounding a lot like a Tea Partier, who gets to pick and choose when he belongs to a commonwealth or the human race. The Tea Partier may decide to opt out when its time to help fund health care for everybody, but you, my friend, have decided to opt out when it comes time to show pain for 2700 people dying all at once. So today, you have made the Tea Party look good, the left look bad, and put your hatred on display for all to see. I only hope they can.”

I don’t normally read this site, and I don’t usually pick fights on bulletin boards, but usually keep my polemics to myself at this, your 24-hour Rasmussen station. But when my Facebook friends on the left started coughing up some of the old shit from their scarred lungs, I decided to go ahead and speak up. To lie down and do nothing while somebody is selling you a bill of goods is … un-American. And on certain occasions, I’m proud to be one.

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