Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

This will not be an easy entry for me to write (seems to be a trend for me lately...) because, and it is unfortunate that I have to even explain this, I am incredibly patriotic. I love this country and I truly believe that, at least in theory, we are one of the best countries on Earth. That's why I get so upset when people fuck it up (especially those who run it and claim to love it).

It's very difficult for to put into words what I felt when I saw the news that morning, even today. I remember that I was in 7th grade. We were living in Florida at the time, so it didn't happen until I was already at school. I distinctly remember being in Ms. Fuglesang's 2nd period geography class. Ms. Price, the math teacher next door, came in to our classroom in the middle of our class and whispered something to Ms. Fuglesang. They both looked upset, although Ms. Fuglesang continued with her planned lesson. I had Ms. Price for math 3rd period. When we got into the classroom, she was standing so that she was blocking the television, which was on. She explained to us what had happened, and she told us that she had the news on so we could see what was going on. I can't remember whether she gave us the option of leaving the room if we didn't want to see. We all made some half-assed attempts at some math worksheets that she had given us as busy work, knowing we'd spend most of the time staring at the TV. I hate to admit it, but I'm not sure I really understood what the World Trade Center was before that day (thanks, Florida public school education...). I'd seen pictures, but it took some time to understand that these people had attacked not just some buildings, but also American symbols. 

It was a tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in the attacks, to the first responders and their loved ones, and to the U.S. service people and innocent civilians in Iraq and Afganistan killed in the subsequent U.S. invasions.

Yes, I said. And I meant it. 

Remembering the fallen means remembering all of the fallen.

That means the undocumented workers who were killed in the attacks, the first responders who experienced all sorts of serious health problems as a result of their heroism, AND the people killed as a result of the U.S. invading Iraq- both the 6,000 U.S. service people and the 400,000 - 1 million innocent civilians in Iraq and Afganistan- are also among the people killed on the planes and in the buildings as "the fallen."

Any senseless and/or violent loss of life is tragic. 
We do a huge disservice to the memory of the lives lost by not remembering all of the lives lost.

Terrorists attacked us on our own soil and killed (less than) 5000 of our citizens. That is absolutely awful and horrible and fucked up.
We responded by attacking a sovereign country that really wasn't involved on the premise of Weapons of Mass Destruction that weren't there, that a) our president and government lied about and b) we definitely DO have. Since that U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, approximately 102,417 - 111,938 Iraqi civilians have been killed. (Non-combatants killed by military or paramilitary action and the breakdown in civil security following the invasion.)

How dare they come into our country and kill our citizens and attack us?

It takes a special kind of arrogance and a really special kind of hypocrisy to bellow "HOW DARE THEY?!" and then turn around and invade another sovereign nation, kill 100,000 civilians, and then to continue to sputter and bellow about how dare they and poor us while ignoring that great loss of life.
I am in NO way trying to negate ANY loss of life. The attacks that occurred on 9/11 were absolutely horrible and it's awful that they happened. I'm in no way trying to undermine that tragedy. 

What I am saying:

Today, as we remember and we "never forget," we should remember all of it, the whole truth.
Those who do not remember and learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. 

And that American arrogance contributed to us being in this mess in the first place. 

We decry the loss of life, as we should. 
That loss of life is equally shitty across the board. 

We also touted the first responders as heroes, as we absolutely should. However, after the pageantry and celebrating the heroes, when those remarkable people started feeling the consequences of their sacrifice in the forms of all sorts of horrible cancers and health problems, our government pretty much abandoned them. I find that absolutely unconscionable. 

Ten years (and a HUGE change in personal politics, prompted by actual knowledge/getting informed) after the attacks, I am still reluctant to say I fully understand. I am still saddened, angry, upset, and confused by the attacks of September 11, 2001. 
I don't think I will ever truly understand what would drive someone to do that ("they hate our freedom!" yeokay, player.), probably because my lived experience is so disparate. 
I don't think I will ever understand the ensuing mob mentality or sudden "patriotism" that overtook the country. [quotes there because I question how much of it was patriotism and how much of it was a "how dare they" attitude and/or the struggles of being forced to face our own mortality.] 
I don't think I will ever understand why the people who point out the scientific impossibilities of what we're told happened are written off as crazy and conspiracy theorists. (Seriously, check out the Zeitgeist Film Series. I've also heard really good things about Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup although I haven't seen it myself yet.)
I don't think I will ever understand why we, as a country, allowed our president to look us in the eye and lie to us shamelessly... and give the rest of the world the same lie, which made our entire country look (even more) foolish when the truth came to light. 
I don't think I will ever understand the rampant Islamaphobia and anti-Muslim hatred in this country. (Terror is NOT Islam. Terrorists may call themselves Muslim, but they do not represent the religion.)
And I don't think I will ever understand why we can work ourselves into a melodramatic tizzy over (less than) 5000 lives lost in those attacks but we can't even talk (let alone give a damn) about all of the lives lost as a result of our invasion (on false pretenses) of another country, or the lives lost all over the world every day as a result of genocide, poverty, famine, drought, lack of access to medicine and/or healthcare, other wars, etc. or even the lives lost in countries where the population is fighting, usually against their own oppressive government, and literally dying to have the freedoms we have.

I do what I can today: 

I remember the fallen, all of them, and honor their memory. I celebrate the heroes, I mourn the losses. 
I keep those who lost loved ones in my thoughts and prayers.
I distinguish between patriotism and nationalism.
I do not respond to senseless hate with more senseless hate.

And I ask you to do the same. 

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