Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Worth a read

This is a lengthy but worthwhile article about the planned September 11th memorial in New York. A lot of commentary tends to be "red meat." This is different; it encourages reflection and thought. I especially appreciated author Tom Engelhardt's comparisons between the planned "Reflecting Absence" 9/11 memorial and many other memorials, often memorials of (yes) greater catastrophes than 9/11. The other memorials are far more modest in scope.

Sadly, I am forced to agree with Engelhardt when he writes: "Even in victimhood, Americans have in recent years exhibited an unseemly imperial hubris." I felt that way during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, when a tattered 9/11 flag was solemnly carried before the international audience. It embarrassed me that we would choose to parade our suffering in such a manner before the world. In that context, it seemed self-pitying. What on earth could people from Bosnia, from Kosovo, from Rwanda, from Sudan, from El Salvador, from Guatemala, from East Timor, from Angola, from Liberia, have made of such a display? Those are countries that have had relatively recent nightmares. What about Russia, whose memories of Leningrad alone (now St. Petersburg again) would scar a nation forever? What about Japan, that had actual nukes dropped on it? Don't they pretty much get automatic first-place bragging rights in the "day of horror" sweepstakes? Yet (to my knowledge) they did not take out a tattered flag from Hiroshima when they hosted the Olympics at Nagano. I feel that these other nations have suffered with more dignity than we did.

Tom Engelhardt blames the neocons who saw 9/11 as "their moment; the one that would take them over the top; the one that would make the United States a Republican-Party possession for years, if not generations, the Middle East an American gas station, the world an American military preserve, and a "unitary" commander-in-chief presidency the recipient of the kinds of untrammeled powers previously reserved for kings and emperors."

I think he's right. And I think we need our country back. Now.


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