Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th - The Reason

by guest blogger Andrew Roman


Two years ago, during the presidential campaign season, as the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approached, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann demonstrated yet again why he is not only one of America’s most colossal jackasses, but an undisciplined dullard. (The extraordinarily obvious is sometimes more beneficial than the simply obvious). Olbermann's repulsive on-air reaction to a video played at the Republican National Convention paying tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was beyond the pale, even for him. When the video was finished, Olbermann hoisted his holier-than-thou head and had the unadulterated nerve to apologize to the viewers for the network's decision to broadcast the segment. To Keith, and others of his leftist strain, this was a tasteless exploitation by Republicans. To others, it was counterfeit indignation wrapped in political expediency. As one blogger to the website commented, “His outrage is always so phony, it's hard to believe anyone could buy into it.”

Phony or not, Olbermann's outrage at the mere mention of anything related to the September 11th attacks by anyone other than conspiracists, Bush-haters and film documentarians is not exactly uncommon. I used to believe it was confined only to the fringe left, but I was mistaken. Almost all Democrats instinctively believe that Republicans only mention the attacks as a means of procuring a political advantage. The fact that the main-stream media is, at worst, sympathetic to the American left helps explain why September 11, 2001 is the enormous elephant in this country’s living room.

It's another example of how the American left truly believes that it simply isn't possible for any of us on the right to simply disagree with liberals without having sinister motives. It isn't possible for conservatives to simply think differently from liberals without being some form of bigot or xenophobe. It isn't possible for us to oppose someone like Barack Obama without being a hater of some sort. It isn't possible to pay tribute and honor the heroes and victims of the worst terrorist attack on this country without trying to score political points.

We are not only wrong, we're bad.

You'll also recall last year the date of September 11th was being hailed as America's "first day of service" - a day to volunteer and "encourage and facilitate community service across the country." As "Greater DC Cares" said on its website, it was to be a day for cleaning parks, serving meals to the hungry, restoring our national monuments, and much more.

As I wrote four years ago, there is a peculiarly conspicuous gap in our cultural landscape when it comes to horrific events of September 11, 2001. It is almost as if the images of that fateful day have all but been purged from our societal canvas. The sights and sounds of September 11th - save for the occasional scene of the burning towers in a random news story - are almost entirely tucked away from the American public’s senses by purveyors of news and information, in a way that’s almost conspiratorial. The result is that Americans in large numbers have almost forgotten how it felt on that morning to witness the murder and destruction that unfolded before our eyes, on live television. It’s almost as if it never really happened, or that it occurred so long ago as not to be relevant anymore. In a culture where barely-watched, insipid sitcoms of the 1970s and 1980’s merit their own DVD boxed sets, the images of that morning remain practically hidden.

Consider, for example, how the American people for several years were peppered daily with images of bombed-out vehicles in Iraq, the remnants of body parts and ambushed convoys from road-side bombs, the wreckage of mangled helicopters and images of burning buildings in busy Baghdad neighborhoods. It was a veritable brochure of How-to-do-it terrorism furnished by the mainstream media to illustrate the horrors of what happens while American forces continue to “occupy” a foreign land. But go ahead and try to find anything that depicts the savage murder of civilians in this country by fanatics, and you might as well be looking for Republicans on the New York City Council.

Today, it has been nine years since the horrific attacks that claimed nearly three thousand innocents. Regrettably, the very event that forever changed the course of the world has dissolved into our daily lexicon as two innocuous numbers spoken in succession: nine, eleven. How detached we’ve become to the sheer brutality; it has become a hyphenated four-syllable point of reference without visual reinforcement. In this fantastic age of image stimuli, where everything is instantaneous and accessible, it is criminal that the defining event of this generation – and arguably in our nation’s history – has slipped from our ever-shrinking attention spans.

True, often times we cannot go a single day - sometimes hours - without hearing those two words in some context: nine, eleven. But its impact has diminished. And while it is perfectly natural for the raw emotions of that day to wane, we’re still at war. Unbelievably, only nine years after the fact, the images of 9/11 are less vivid than the faces of rejected American Idol contestants. It is an injustice of the highest order to the victims and a profound disservice to those who serve in harm’s way.

I fully appreciate that there are many who don’t wish to see the horrific footage of that Tuesday morning ever again – especially those directly affected by the attacks and aftermath. Indeed, I have a friend who spent many days at Ground Zero in the days following the attacks, digging through the rubble and remains of the pulverized World Trade Center. He’s told me that he personally could go the rest of his life without ever seeing those pictures again. However, he was quick to add that America should revisit that day, even if only once in a while, to remember why this war continues to be fought.

The people of this nation must be reminded over and over again exactly why we are fighting, with whom we are fighting and what these brutal unconscionable killers have done to us – and what they will do to us if given the opportunity. The harrowing images of the evil that is terrorism – such as those desperate souls leaping from the burning towers - should never leave us. We owe it to the victims of the September 11th attacks, to all those who have sacrificed to defeat this enemy, and to future generations to not only defeat terrorism wherever it is but to understand precisely why we’re doing it.

For many like me, the memories of that day have not dissipated, nor should they for any American.

Unfortunately, for many it has, and with it, that sense of urgency to pursue and eliminate those who did this to us before they can do it again.

Would there even be a debate about opening an Islamic cultural center and mosque at Ground Zero if it hadn't?

America today, more so than at any time in her history, is a visual society. We crave stimuli at an incessant pace. We’ve evolved into a seeing-is-believing culture where almost anything on God’s green earth is a mere click away. Images serve as our prime validators. Additionally, we are a people easily distracted and quickly-bored. Out-of-sight, out of mind. We are a culture of channel surfers pulling our dinners from microwave ovens. We keep in touch with friends and loved ones via instant-messaging and broadband internet connections. We can take pictures, download files, zap e-mails and balance our check books on a cell phone.

But we are not a heartless society. We are, without a doubt, a most forgiving people. And it is specifically that otherwise admirable quality I fear has begun to take hold across the map before its time. Now is not the moment to forgive the enemy. They still exist. Inasmuch as we have to be reminded exactly what they did to us, with troops in harm's way, and terrorists continually plotting to hit us, it is perfectly reasonable to those of us who fully appreciate the scope of the war to be utterly disgusted with images of road-side bomb craters and other negative stories about our forces while an almost purposeful effort is made to shield us from the 9/11 attacks - like we might actually rally around the war effort.
Am I talking about the need for establishing a 24-hour 9/11 satellite channel?
Of course not.

But how about an actual clip of one of the twin towers collapsing into the streets of Manhattan the next time a news story about the 9/11 attacks hits the air? Or how about that second plane slamming into the south tower when a story about the War on Terror and terrorism in the United States plays? After all, it did happen, despite the attempts of the American Leftocracy to pretend it didn't.

In anecdotal terms, the video images of the September 11th attacks are powerful weapons. I have watched the faces of those who hadn't seen the "as-it-happened" accounts of that day for years, and it is a profound experience. (You'll recall that a video documentary I produced chronicling the events of that day was roundly criticized by a New York Times columnist recently as "rhetoric"). Those of us who were paying attention eight years ago obviously haven’t forgotten the event. Indeed, we all have our own memories of that terrible morning, just as we have memories of anything that occurred in our past. But actually affording one’s self the chance to relive that particular Tuesday morning by seeing the events unfold once again conjures up a different type of "memory" – one seeded in an indescribable kind of outrage and violation, of inexplicable horror and seething anger – the kind of “memory” this nation needs to hold on to while American men and women serve in harm’s way. Indeed, after viewing the tapes of that morning with a selected gathering of people, my closest friend turned to me and said, "I forgot how horrible it was."

That's what I mean. He obviously remembers the day as we all do … but images speak volumes.

To the great credit of MSNBC, that network has rebroadcast its original coverage of the 9/11 attacks, as it happened nine years ago today.

For those of us who do not need to be alloted a specific day by the government as a time for service - those of us who view everyday as a day to do onto our neighbors as we would have them do onto us - I choose to remember September 11th as the day evil revealed itself with stunning clarity on our home turf, wiping nearly three thousand innocent lives from the face of the Earth. I choose to remember it as a day wrought with unspeakable horror and unparalled heroism. I choose not to diminish its incalculable impact on all of our lives, nor dishonor the dead and their family members, by attempting to purge it from American consciousness.

September 11th is the day I remind myself of how fortunate I am to live as a free man in the greatest country on the planet - and how quickly everything we take for granted can be taken away.


1 comment:

  1. Andrew: Once again, good job! Unfortunately, the images of what happened that day have been erased from our culture much like the Twin Towers were from the New York skyline.

    There are still those among us who endeavor to keep truth and liberty alive. To them I say, take heart! You are not alone.


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