Powerful Essay on the World Trade Center Attacks

By Steve Kandell on Buzzfeed [The Worst Day Of My Life Is Now New York’s Hottest Tourist Attraction]:

The fact that everyone else here has VIP status grimly similar to mine is the lone saving grace; the prospect of experiencing this stroll down waking nightmare lane with tuned-out schoolkids or spectacle-seekers would be too much. There are FDNY T-shirts and search-and-rescue sweatshirts and no one quite makes eye contact with anyone else, and that’s just fine. I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark. Annotated divorce papers (find an adoption lawyers in case they have children) blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely.

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Reflection on the World Trade Center Attack

In 2005, I said this about the World Trade Center attacks: “I’m so glad to read personal accounts because that was what struck me about the media coverage from that day — and for about a week or so after — the grand hype machine had stopped, and all we heard about were real people.”

I’d like to think now that reflecting on the folks who died that day was they only thing we need to do, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The repercussions of that day have reverberated much wider than the 3,000+ poor souls who died in those buildings. The foundation of our country is shaking, continues to shake, from that day, and we as a nation have changed profoundly, in some dark and disturbing ways that threaten our nation, our people, our government, and our way of life.

Our system of government has certainly changed. We used to have a government of checks and balances. Now the executive branch is so powerful that it threatens to overwhelm the very freedoms America’s citizens are supposed to enjoy, and Congress and the courts struggle in vain to curb presidential military misadventures and government intrusion into the lives of it’s populace.

Our economy is on the brink of collapse and our middle class is in danger of extinction. Between corporate greed, the unchecked power of the presidency, the exploitation of 9/11 to justify devastating military spending, and wholesale shipping of American jobs overseas, regular Americans have a bleak future of grim hard work, suffering from lack of medical care, and preventable early demise to look forward to.
Our standing in the world has descended from the sole remaining superpower who could lead other countries to freedom and prosperity by example, to a diminished shadow under the rise of Chinese influence and a resurgent and very disturbing Russia. Once American principles of freedom and good works are now more readily associated with European countries as our moral standing is diminished in the wake of unjustifiable military actions and revelations of torture and prisoner abuse.

Our sense of national security has been completely wiped away; though we are probably in no more danger from terrorist attack than we ever have been, we’ve allowed our government to panic and fire wildly in perhaps every direction than where danger might actually be coming from, and though we’ve spent billions of dollars on security measures, we’re really no more prepared for national emergency we were on September 10, 2001.

For all the ringing cries over the past seven years of “don’t let the terrorists win!” we have indeed, let a handful of religious zealots armed with nothing more than box cutters and complete dumb luck alter almost every aspect of American government, lives and culture.

I’d say we helped them win.

God Hates Hate
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Real people remember

Joe.My.God’s account of “That Day.”

Ian William’s memories of 9/11: “no one wept except the willow

3 Quarks Daily’s contributors all write about “Five Years Later.”

I’m so glad to read personal accounts because that was what struck me about the media coverage from that day — and for about a week or so after — the grand hype machine had stopped, and all we heard about were real people. No politicians, no celebrities, no pundits, just news anchors talking to and about real human beings living and dying in the real world. I’d much rather hear what New York residents have to say about September 11th than politicians who were in hiding, running like little girls away from the danger.

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How likely are you to die in a terrorist attack?

Via a friend, this article on Wired News titled “One Million Ways to Die“:

But despite the never-ending litany of warnings and endless stories of half-baked plots foiled, how likely are you, statistically speaking, to die from a terrorist attack?

Comparing official mortality data with the number of Americans who have been killed inside the United States by terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma reveals that scores of threats are far more likely to kill an American than any terrorist — at least, statistically speaking.

In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is.

No shit. Mine already tried. Ripped the sucker right out, I did.

I love the threat chart they provide to illustrate stuff you should probably worry about more than terrorism:

Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327
Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
Electrocution: 5,171
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
Terrorism: 3147
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554

I think “Dying from work: 59,730” as a high threat is my very favorite statistic.

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September 11… The Image I Can’t Forget

What shocked and upset me most on September 11 and the days afterward was the photograph… everyone knows, probably, what one I’m talking about. The photograph of the falling man, the man who jumped to his death from the towers. It ran in the papers only once, and there was very brief video footage on one news channel that showed people jumping and falling from one of the towers. Watching that short film made me throw up; one of the few times I’ve ever vomited when I wasn’t sick or hung over. I immediately blocked the image from my mind. I was horrified that the picture was published in the paper.

Falling Man

Two years later, I can finally think about it. Those images made the tragedy real, and drove home the reality that it wasn’t just glass and steel but human bodies being destroyed. Human lives being lost. And at that time… It was unbearable to see.

Now I’m glad that that Richard Drew was able to take the photo of the falling man. Because it’s a record of what really happened. And it reminds me of what’s important and because it helps to honor his life, and honor the way he chose to die.

It’s also compelling that people are now, two years later, really able to examine the people who jumped from the towers, the one aspect of the tragedy that no one has really been able to face or talk about. Many people still won’t talk about them as “jumpers” but insist to themselves that they fell or were blown from the building. Because acknowledging that they jumped means to put oneself in their shoes, to imagine making that terrible choice. How horrible it must have been, whatever was happening up there, that they chose to die instead by jumping from a great height.

With all the lies the George Bush has told, with the way he has twisted the tragedy of September 11, 2001, used it to consolidate power and manipulate the world, seeing that image again reminded me of what’s true, what’s real, what’s important. It reminds me that these people, too, were Americans, the ones who jumped. And to them, we have some responsibility.

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Bush’s September 11 “Clean Air” Lie


An investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general has found that White House officials instructed the agency to be less alarming and more reassuring to the public in the first few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, The New York Times reports in its Saturday editions.

The investigation specifically cites official statements about air quality after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

The agency “did not have sufficient data and analyses” to make a “blanket statement” when it announced seven days after the attack that the air around ground zero was safe to breathe, the Times quotes the report as saying.

“Competing considerations, such as national security concerns and the desire to reopen Wall Street, also played a role in E.P.A.’s air quality statements,” the report, which has not yet been made public, said.

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Squelching Dissent Is Unpatriotic

Democrats are being unjustly browbeaten by the rightwingers over their questions about intelligence reports surrounding the 9/11 attacks. I’ve seen all the democratic comments and not one of them is attacking the White House — they are merely asking questions.

Suggesting that asking questions is unpatriotic, or that it shouldn’t be done in time of war is not only ridiculous, it’s disgusting. Asking questions about how our government is being run is the most patriotic thing any citizen could do. It’s part of the freedom we enjoy as Americans–a freedom that few countries are lucky enough to share with us.

You can bet that if Clinton were in office, the right-wingers would be asking questions, and they certainly wouldn’t be as respectful as the Democrats have been. They’d be viciously attacking Clinton, as they did throughout his term. Funny how they howl when the shoe is on the other foot.

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I love America

American FlagI’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; I love my country very much. This is the best place in the world to live. It may not be perfect, and I may not always be happy with our government or with the way our corporations behave, but I have more freedom here than anywhere in the world, and I love everything our country stands for: Freedom, justice, compassion, self-reliance, determination and hard work. God Bless America.

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