"I mean, 40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually before the World Trade Center the tallest, and then when they built the World Trade Center it became known as the second-tallest, and now it's the tallest. "
-- Donald J. Trump
I hate this day.
I hate this anniversary, all the things it represents, the terror, the wars, the endless dead, the mindless furious patriotism, and most especially I hate what it did to the country I once pledged my life to serve.
You need an example?
A few years ago, when I’d finally had enough of this bloody memory, I made a Facebook post about 9-11.
It went viral.
And many people were offended. Goddamn, were they offended.
Those who beat their fleshy chests and wave the flag in righteous unending fury and bleat most bitterly about “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” were the most offended. Because aren’t they always?
They were so offended, they attempted to hack my Facebook account.
When that didn’t work, they complained to Facebook in righteous anger, furiously waving their little flags, shouting their rage and how aggrieved they were.
Because that’s what you do when you love “Freedom” and “Liberty” and “Patriotism” -- not the real freedom and liberty and patriotism but the jack-booted goose-stepping version where everybody is lined up and made to salute the flag with a gun to the back of their necks. The kind of “Freedom” that’s administered by serious men of pure Aryan descent with death’s heads and lightning bolts glittering on their collars. And eventually these righteous patriots succeeded in convincing Facebook’s idiot mechanical brain to remove my post for “violation of community standards” – even though nothing I wrote violates Facebook’s community standards in any way.
They got the post removed and got me suspended for a few days until Facebook’s support staff figured out what was going on and restored both my original post and my account.
Now, I was not particularly vexed by this.
I mean, it’s not often that you get confirmation of your position in such a succinct manner and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t amuse me.
By getting my post pulled down they confirmed everything I said.
They always do, these patriots, predictable as the next rank of goose-stepping Nazis parading down the road.
What was it I said that was deserving of censorship and death threats?
You're expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren't you?
Here it is, but you're not gonna like it.
15 years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America.
They killed 3000 of us.
And then ... America got its revenge for 9-11.
Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren't even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.
They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.
8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.
We're still here. They aren't.
We win. USA! USA! USA!
You goddamned right. We. Win.
Every year on this day we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It's been 15 goddamned years, but we just can't get enough. We've just got to watch it again and again.
It's funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.
Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil son of bitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That's what we wanted. that's what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.
And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn't matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he's not an American, he's the enemy see? He's not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And...
15 years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans.
How'd that promise work out?
How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?
It's 15 years later and we're STILL afraid. We're still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies -- and our own citizens for that matter. We're a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition and we've gotten used to being strip searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?
And now we're talking about more war, more blood.
But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.
Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I'm not going to watch the shows. I'm not going to any of the memorials. I'm not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don't want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other. I'm tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I'll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.
I'm not going to shed a damned tear today.
We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I'm going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day. Enjoy this victory we've won.
I suggest you do the same.
Unamerican, no doubt. How unpatriotic that I should suggest we stop wallowing in this misery, that we stop allowing ourselves to be terrorized by men long dead.
Yes indeed, how terrible.
That was three years ago I wrote that. Every year on this date, I say again, Fuck 9-11. I’m tired of wallowing in the blood of that day and what came after. We’ve won. Haven’t we? Look around, surely we won. Let us live our lives, enjoy our bitter victory.
And every year, the supposed patriots who love freedom and liberty show up and get my various social media accounts suspended.
Because for them, it will never be enough.
There will never be enough misery.
There can never been enough death.
There can never been enough blood.
There can never be enough hate.
We simply cannot kill enough people to sate our need for revenge.
Entire countries were laid waste in revenge for 9-11. We did that. I know, I was there, I was one of those who went to war for a lie and helped to kill hundreds of thousands in revenge for something they never did.
It’s been almost 20 years now, and in those decades since 911 we Americans have become a callous people who can look upon those devastated lands and say, well, you know they had it coming, all of those bastards had it coming including their goddamned children. Fuck them.
We became a nation that tortures people and disappears people and detains people, including our own citizens, indefinitely without trial or recourse in abject repudiation of the very spirit of our nation’s own founding – and we are unashamed of that and unrepentant.
In the decades since 911, we have become a nation where, as an American, you must put aside your freedom a dozen times a day. You must show your papers. You must submit to naked body scanners and you must allow unsmiling uniformed men with the force of secret laws behind them to grope the most intimate areas of your children and yourselves. Such has become the price of freedom in America.
We have become a nation where you – as an American – can be detained for a glance or a gesture or a careless word or for checking out the wrong book from the library or for worshipping the wrong God. We have become a nation where the only acceptable response to uniformed authority is immediate and total submission. Talk back, question, stand pat on the rights of previous generations and you’ll be branded an enemy.
We have become a nation that claims to revere liberty and justice, but believes those things can only be had when secret agencies monitor our every email and our every communication without warrant or probable cause.
We have become a nation where parents buy bulletproof backpacks for their children as part of their school supplies.
We have become a nation that turns away the desperate and the needy, a nation that puts children in cages and lets women sit in their own menstrual blood because we don’t even have the minimum empathy to provide sanitary napkins or even flu shots to sick children.
We have become a nation that would build our own prison walls and surround ourselves in barbed wire and machine guns and call it freedom.
Nearly two decades on and we have a become a nation so filled with hate, so filled with rage, so fearful and so terrorized, that we are now deporting the very veterans who fought for America in the terrible days after 9-11.
That’s who we are.
And I have no desire to celebrate that at all.
The day after 9-11, September 12th, 2001, Congress stood upon the steps of the Capitol with the smoke of the burning Pentagon still hanging in the air above their heads and solemnly pledged to the American people that they would put aside their partisanship and their personal agendas and work together for the sake of our nation.
In the decades since that moment we have become a nation divided instead, a nation of partisan rancor writ large – and those who stubbornly proclaim their patriotism loudest are the very ones who would lead us into civil war and secession. They would destroy what terrorists could not.
And yet, in the decades since 911, we have found those responsible, rooted them out, and ground them into dust. It took ten years, but Osama bin Laden is dead at the hands of Americans. So is his successor. So are hundreds of his lieutenants. So are thousands of his foot soldiers.
So are many, many others, including thousands of Americans.
But it has not brought us closure.
And it has certainly not brought us peace.
Nor has it healed us as a nation.
9-11 was horrifying. It was personal to us all, every single American. It left us scarred, as a nation, and traumatized.
And we keep using that horror, that trauma, as an excuse to lash out in a massive case of collective post traumatic stress disorder.
The wounds of that event run deep and are still raw decades later – but those wounds will not heal so long as we keep picking at the scab over and over and over.
Today, we will relive the horror yet again – a fevered nightmare that simply won’t go away because we will not allow it to go away.
Again, don’t get me wrong, we should always remember the events of September 11th, 2001, just as we remember Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the hundred other events that shocked and traumatized our nation. But if we are to heal, if we are to move on, we have to stop reliving that horror over and over.
Certainly we should build the memorials and lay the wreaths.
Of course we should always remember the names of the fallen and hold them sacred.
Of course we should.
But we need to stop covering ourselves in the blood of that day.
Today, right now as I write this, hundreds of media channels will play the recordings of those trapped in the towers. They’ll play those recordings over and over and over again. Recordings of the tortured calls to emergency services and the final calls to loved one. And we’ll listen, yet again, to the intimate agony of those dying people. They will play on endless loop the videos of those who jumped seventy stories to their death, lingering lovingly on their faces, speculating about their last moments, reveling in the horror. They interview those who witnessed the death and destruction and horror and they’ll beg, “Tell us what you were thinking. Tell us what you were feeling at that very moment.” We don’t need to know what they were feeling, what they were thinking, because we felt the same exact thing. We’re still feeling it. But we’ll listen anyway like a entire nation slowing down to boggle wide-eyed at a car wreck.
We’ll watch the towers fall. Again.
We’ll see the Pentagon crumple and explode. Again.
We’ll hear the tapes of the air traffic controllers, of the horrified confusion in the towers, and the phone calls of those Americans who fought back above the corn fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I hear those tortured voices, I see those dying faces, and I don’t feel hate. I don’t feel a need for revenge. I’ve had decades of hate. I went to war in revenge. I’ve been covered in blood long enough.
Instead, I look at those pictures and I feel revulsion.
There is something obscene about listening to 911 calls, any 911 call. While those records may have value to history, it is nothing but a voyeuristic grotesquery to broadcast those intimate communications to a public jaded by reality TV and violent slasher flicks.
It serves no purpose whatsoever but to keep open festering wounds that should be long scarred over.
Today, the president will once again lie about his feats of heroism in the days after the attack. He’ll once again use this anniversary to attack his political enemies and to divide America still further. Because that is what he does.
Today, pundits and politicians will use this anniversary to drive us further apart, to reopen the wounds, for their own selfish agendas for clicks and likes and social media accolades, to further inflame partisan fervor and to brand their neighbors as enemies and un-American.
And we will let them do it, because in the decades since 911 we’ve become a nation of cutters who hack at our own flesh with mean abandon.
Since 911, an entire generation has been born and grown to self-awareness.
Those young Americans have never known their nation at peace.
They have never known a nation that is not divided.
They have never had a single day where they weren’t told to hate their neighbors and to report them if they don’t seem patriotic enough.
They have never lived a single day in a nation that wasn’t bent to the terrible business of revenge.
They have never known a nation that didn’t roil in fear and cringe in terror every single day.
They have never flown on an airplane without having been treated like a criminal.
They have never checked out a book from the library without having been subject to secret scrutiny.
They never sent an unmonitored email or made an unmonitored phone call.
They have never lived in a house that isn’t subject to unwarranted search.
They have never had the right to redress or legal challenge when their name is placed on secret lists – and in point of fact, they don’t even have the right to know if their name is on that list at all.
They have never lived in a nation where they have the right to confront their accuser and demand proof of more than just suspicion.
They have never lived without the threat, however unlikely, of being disappeared.
They have never lived in a nation that didn’t regard the torture of human beings as an acceptable option.
This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.
The terrorists didn’t do that.
We did it to them.
Fuck this is anniversary.
I’m going to log off and enjoy the day with those I love.
I suggest you do the same.
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
-- Barack Obama