Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years On

So here we are, 10 years after 9/11. Sure, I remember what I was doing when I heard the news. Just like now, I was on Weight Watchers, and I was in the middle of my regular morning dance workout, with music coming from the computer. I was aware of some little news crawl along the bottom of the screen, something about a plane crash, but I paid no attention. The phone rang, but I wouldn't interrupt my routine by answering, not until I'd finished and gotten out of the shower. Then, at about 9:30, Dean got through to me and told me to turn on the TV. I don't think I stopped watching the news for the next week.

We were in Boston, and we soon noticed the absence of planes and coming from and going to Logan Airport. Only the military jets were flying in the days that followed, and you noticed them because they were so alone in the sky. Ever since that day, I never see a plane landing or taking off without thinking about 9/11, and watching to see that they get safely away. I watch planes fly overhead, and won't look away until they're out of sight; I always wonder if I'll see them explode before my eyes, and I calculate where the debris would fall. Would it hit my house? Would it get any of my family? Yes, I guess I could say that I've been permanently changed by that day.

I haven't been watching much of the coverage - I saw a bit of a documentary on the second plane that hit the Twin Towers, and I started feeling such rage that I had to shut it off. I don't want to feel that anger again, and not because it's a sin and bad for my soul. I don't want to feel it because I don't want to get all worked up for nothing, yet again.

Ten years ago we were angry and ready to obliterate the Islamic vermin that did this to us. For awhile, we went in the right direction. George Bush left his enemies gaping open-mouthed with shock when he refused to negotiate with the shit-encrusted criminals of Afghanistan. They couldn't believe that he was not following the usual Western plan of talks, and shuttle diplomacy, and all the rest of the sensitive crap we'd wasted the previous 30 years doing. Before they could even accept that the delicious game of "Tie the Infidel in knots and jerk the string" had been snatched away from them, death was pounding down on their lice-infested heads, blowing them and their filthy superstition to the hell that it crawled out of.

But that was Afghanistan. In the year and a half that followed, George Bush's anger cooled, and by the time of the Iraq war he'd turned into Gentle George, Meek and Mild. He had a higher ambition this time than just destroying enemies: it was to awaken the kinder, gentler Islam he just knew was struggling to come into the world. It was a sort of shamefaced evangelism: we couldn't actually MENTION Christ or Christianity, but we sort of convert the heathen through our gentlemanly method of waging war, so they'd absorb Christian decency from us without really having to recognize it. Because of course to actually point out the indecent failures of the alien religion would be impolite and insensitive.

It didn't turn out that well, any more than our humane method of pinprick war has subdued the enemy. Someone said there's just no way you can manage to make a man not notice that you're killing him, and in the same way there's no way you can subconsciously turn a Muslim barbarian into a mild-mannered Protestant. And so 10 years later we're still pretending that "freedom is the desire of every human heart", no matter how much the savages demonstrate the opposite.

It's not just the dink in the White House - every politician has signed on to this failed policy of pretending that reality isn't what it is. I can't participate in their phony game, and I know they'll never agree that this war is anything but a minor disagreeableness that can be safely farmed out to professional soldiers in far-away lands while the rest of us go on with our normal lives. So that's why I don't "participate" anymore in these soft-focus "memorials" to 9/11. I don't have any soft-focus memories.