I feel like the tenth anniversary of September 11th went by very fast. That is, the last ten years went by like the blink of an eye. The actual coverage that played out the days before and after the anniversary were excruciating to watch. I unplugged myself from all media for about a week. The “human interest” stories were unbearable: survivors and their families, people who missed their trains and, consequently were saved, the children of victims, the police and firefighters and EMTs and soldiers who just wanted to make a difference. I am as equally sorry for these people as I am proud of them.
I wish the media felt the same way. Days of sensationalism–milking each tear for maximum sadness–just shows how little we’ve learned from the horrible events of that day. Taking advantage of other’s pain, ripping open old wounds, wallowing in sorrow and pity. I doubt anyone wants to be “honored” this way. News coverage of the anniversary went on like salve but burned like poison.
Consider, for a moment, some of the other harsh realities from 9/11. The entire world does not love us. We can’t always do the right thing. The past ten years have lead to deeper divisions, wild punditry, and polemics in this country. Opportunists have capitalized on this, and the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever. We go on ignoring lesser and greater problems exacerbated by the current culture of fear and doubt about our future.
The media let us down again. No one wanted to discuss the systemic problems that caused America to suffer terrorism in the first place. No one has a real solution. Soma doesn’t exactly lead to introspection; and candor doesn’t come in large enough doses these days. Yes, we want to help the victims of the attack, but, no, we should not exploit their suffering to distract ourselves from never letting such suffering strike us again. Maybe we should interview everyone again to ask them some questions actually worthy of their well worn consideration.
I’ll leave you with another essay by Henry Rollins. He’s a bit better at articulating rage than I am. I read this piece and was reminded of all the crud swept under the rug. Let me know what you think–if you feel as cheated as me.