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Who were you on 9/11?
September 4, 2003 8:01 AM   Subscribe

WHO were you on September 11th? To paraphrase the political cliche, are you really different now from what you were two years ago? A collective blog project taking place in one week (of course) will try and answer that question.
posted by clevershark (60 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm different. I believe politicians even less than I used to.

IMHO, September 11 was a very clever but incredibly sick and cold blooded way to get attention for a cause - that being to get America out of the self nominated role as international policeman and meddler. Politicians world wide wook this oppertunity to push through any bill they wanted, to fight anyone they wanted, and to abuse their own people's liverties in any way they wanted. Businesses took the oppertunity to blame all their flawed business plans on it - just look at the air industries. Oh, and please note - none of this is intended to start a flame war, just explaining my position...

September 11th should never have happened. Nor should the political reactions.
posted by twine42 at 8:09 AM on September 4, 2003


WHO were you on September 11th?

I was a skinny, alcoholic, bitter, flannel bedecked man with bad acne and poor social skills on Sept. 11th. I was also a skinny, alcoholic, bitter, flannel bedecked man with bad acne and poor social skills before Sept. 11th and continued to be a skinny, alcoholic, bitter, flannel bedecked man with bad acne and poor social skills subsequent to Sept. 11th, except I was more pissed off and paranoid.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 AM on September 4, 2003


guess I'll never find out - Entry Not Available
posted by da5id at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2003


ethel mermans understudy
posted by clavdivs at 8:36 AM on September 4, 2003


I think Tristan's got an excellent point... it goes a long way to show that people really will say anything to produce a response that might get carried on the TV evening news. America changed that day? Nonsense. Pols are using the event to fleece us, but let's face it, they'd find some other excuse anyway.

Likewise, speaking for myself I still get up in the morning and go to work, without much enthusiasm maybe, but then was I ever enthusiastic about having to go to work in the mornings? I go home drained of much of my energy, but that was the same thing on 9/10/01. I don't think that having to show up earlier at the airport is much of a genuine "change". I do have the urge to look up whenever I hear an airplane overhead, but I can't say that this is ruling my life or anything.

So when I hear people speak of 9/11 as "the day America change" I feel a strong urge to slap the speaker silly (unless they're a relative of the victims or something like that). Then again maybe that's just me...
posted by clevershark at 8:54 AM on September 4, 2003


I was unemployed and dating a psychotic woman on 9/11.

Times are better.
posted by xmutex at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2003


Interestingly, not much in my life in terms of job, home, or marital status has changed, yet I do feel noticeably different. I've developed a greater sense of (as others here have noted) paranoia, as well as distrust in the government, and the semi-related side effects of a depressed economy and increased air travel for my job (more time dealing with airport security, yet vast amounts of time saved finding parking at the airport as travel has dropped off markedly).
posted by jonson at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2003


I'm a panda.
posted by angry modem at 9:04 AM on September 4, 2003


Who doesn't change over the course of any 2 year period?
posted by scarabic at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2003


I definitely have a greater disdain for SUV's with "Let Freedom Ring" and "We Shall Never Forget" bumper stickers. But to be fair, a lot of folks here in Massachusetts have a greater disdain for my "Al Queda" bumper sticker , as they have certainly let me know by their one finger salutes and "love notes" left on my car in the Target parking lot.
posted by alou73 at 9:15 AM on September 4, 2003


I don't think I changed on September 11th, 2001. It was another day when bad things happened.

America didn't change either. I think that some of our true colors came out, and our arrogance, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, and inherently violent reactionary face became the dominant voices of our culture.

Politcos picked up on it and used it, both Republicans and Democrats, but the powers that be simply rode the anger and used it (the DOD Inc., Halliburton, and the other non-bid contractors in the Afghan and Iraq wars) to make a lot of money.

And the media let it happen, too scared to say boo (well, Saddam might have sold WMDs to Osama, right?) and after we kicked a little Taliban ass (well, chased them across the Pakistan border) we needed to kick a little Iraqi ass (well, chased them across the Syrian and Iranian borders and into the Iraqi tunnel redoubts). And honor was satisfied and anger was appeased, even if we really never got most of the real 911 culprits (19 of whom were dead already).

We have shown that America is really just like our enemies, who kill indiscriminately, who judge and condemn without laws or trials, and who believe blindly that justice comes out of the barrel of a gun or the dropping of a bomb. We have shown that Americans can be just as ruthless and insane and vindictive as the Taliban or al Queda or the Baathists. Superb work on our part, don't you think?

Is that really the legacy of the 3,000 who died on 911 in New York, Washington, and that lonely field in Pennsylvania? Did they really cry for revenge? If they did, have we delivered it? Was it sweet? Will it help? Have we ended it? When will it end?

Is America now different? Well, yeah, I suppose so. Now we are fully immersed in a war against enemies we can't see, hidden armies we can't track, and terrible weapons made by our very own hands used against us.

Has our use of violence against their violence made a difference? Did we consider any other methods? Or do we know of nothing else?

America didn't change on 911. We just took off the wrappings that had covered up who we really are.
posted by mooncrow at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2003


This all kind of reminds me of some member of the government here in the UK who said on the 1st anniversary that "The world lost it's innocence that day". I just found it astonishing that anyone could be so out of touch with reality to believe that on the 10th September 2001 we all lived in a world with peace, and harmony, where nothing bad had ever happened.
posted by chill at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2003


America changed that day? Nonsense...So when I hear people speak of 9/11 as "the day America change" I feel a strong urge to slap the speaker silly

Well, here comes that urge, clevershark. I think America (and most Americans) changed immensely that day. I think there was an awakening to a very real threat to our security that had largely been ignored through willful blindness (e.g., paying no notice to the Hart-Rudman Report). For many Americans (this one included) there was a realization that there were individuals (scores of them) who had both the desire and the means to kill me (and my family, and you, etc.) just because I happen to live in this country. If that's not eye-opening, I don't know what is. This probably isn't the way you (or most MeFi members) feel, but I can pretty much guarantee that Average Joe American feels this way. Just because you haven't changed (or like to pretend 9/11 should have no ongoing significance), you shouldn't conclude that America hasn't changed.

America has also changed in more dubious ways, including (as many mentioned) using 9/11 as a reason to pass questionable laws (e.g. Patriot Act I & II), and to take a more activist international approach (people seem to forget that pre-9/11 Bush was criticized as an isolationist who didn't think the U.S. should act as the world's cop).

That said, it irked me last year, and irks me know, how so many people want to act as if 9/11 was no big deal. That's just revisionist history. It was a big deal, and it was a terrible tragedy perpetrated by mass murderers motivated by nothing other than religious fervor. In this respect, I can't say it any better than James Lileks, who wrote last year:
There hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought about it. That bothers some people. There’s an attitude in some quarters that there’s something unhealthy about thinking about 9/11, certainly in dwelling on the details. They’ll allow a certain amount of regret and dismay. They’ll permit you a brief spasm of anger, but it had best be followed with a nuanced assessment of American foreign policy... They can’t stand people who won’t let go of 9/11. Once they washed the ash off their car it was over for them; why can’t it be over for everyone?

Tonight I was googling around looking for a picture of Christine Hanson, the daughter of Kim Ji-Soo and Peter Hanson. She was two. The family was flying to Disneyland when the terrorists slaughtered the flight attendants, stabbed the pilots to death, and drove the plane into the building. (Yes yes, we know what happened; don’t be so dramatic, and Disneyland? Please. You’re getting bathetic.) ... bin Laden’s lackeys killed her - and did so to ensure that other fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters died as well, preferably by the tens of thousands. This little girl’s death wasn’t even a comma in the manifesto they hoped to write. They made sure that her last moments alive were filled with horror and blood, screams and fear; they made sure that the last thing she saw was the desperate faces of her parents, insisting that everything was okay, we’re going to see Mickey, holding out a favorite toy with numb hands, making up a happy lie. And then she was fire and then she was ash.

I feel the same anger I did on 9/11; I feel the same overwhelming grief. Nothing in my heart has changed, and God forbid it ever does.
Amen.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2003 [1 favorite]


Things really are different for me and my husband right now. We were in DC and my husband was working about 6 blocks from Capital Hill at the time. He could see the smoke from the Pentagon and was just outside the Hill evacuation zone. I had already started working from home and all I could do was watch and wonder. Would my husband make it home that night? Why wasn't he evacuated too? How will he get home if he can? What else is going to happened?

Then anthrax hit. My husband took the metro to downtown then walked another six blocks past the Hill to get to work every day. Taking the metro was a really nerve-racking experience for him as the metro no longer seemed safe. It would be SO easy to release some kind of bio-weapon like anthrax on the metro that would affect the entire area. We really did worry that something like that would happen. Plus our mail was distributed through the same place as the Hill so there was something else to worry about.

Life was just plain tense in those days. I'm not much of a worrier, but I worried. My husband is a natural worrier and he was almost a mess. What started out as a joke got more serious as time went by: Where else can we live?

Sept. 11 changed our priorities immediately. Quality of life became much more important than anything else. Why work in a city that is a target for terrorists? Where there really is nothing the gov't can do to prevent bio attacks? Where you could get infected and not know it?

If we could have balanced our life there we may have stayed. But for lots of reasons we realized that living there long term just wasn't going to meet our demands for a better quality of life that now was so important to us (we decided great jobs are not the be-all of life (DC has best jobs for husband's line of work); being with each other is much more important).

So now we live in a small city area, where things are more affordable, where quality of life seems to be a priority for everyone here. We've never been happier. So 9/11 did change our lives, made us see what was really important, and we took action. I don't know if you needed to be where the "action" was to really be affected by it, but I can say that at least for us things changed.

And what pardonyou? said.
posted by evening at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2003


mooncrow-- fucking word, man.
posted by xmutex at 10:27 AM on September 4, 2003


I would modify what mooncrow said with this: Prior to 9-11, we were accused of being all those things, but those words did not affect us. We were in addition kind, generous, and welcoming. We welcomed the people who flew those planes into America to learn at our schools; we funded the Afghans against the Soviets because, yes, they were the Soviets, but also because we believed that what the Soviets were doing to Aghanistan was wrong. We gave money to the Israelis because they were embattled, but we also gave money to the Palestinians because they were being oppressed, and to the Egyptians because they were poor and had hope, and to the Syrians because we hoped for better things. We took all the casual condescension from Europe because we are initimately bound to them historically, and because (we thought) they are our friends, through thick and thin. Yes, we practiced realpolitik with aplomb, and yes, we are vigorous (often rapacious) capitalists, and yes, we can be arrogant, individually and on the world stage. But we stood for a lot of good in this world, and we took the slings and arrows from the rest because because, at the end of the day, we believed (rightly, I think) that the end result of our efforts was a world that was better, freer, and more peaceful. Not perfect. Not immortal. Not without pain and suffering and poverty and tyranny - we can't erase that from our own backyards, how could the world assume we could erase it from the world? But better.

After 9-11, we as a nation silently but tacitly decided that, were we to be punished for the sins, we might as well start committing them.
posted by UncleFes at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2003


I would wholeheartedly agree, however, with one thing that mooncrow said: We just took off the wrappings that had covered up who we really are.

It is far easier today than it was two years ago to tell who is shit, and who is not.
posted by UncleFes at 10:58 AM on September 4, 2003


I tend to agree with mooncrow more than with pardonyou? myself.

I reflected with wry irony that The Siege (the movie) had come out not in the thick of this, but a full 3 years before. Sure, it's only a movie, but movies don't get made in vacuums (vacua?).

Likewise as we stood by the office window -- my office is on the Jersey City waterfront -- the second tower wasn't even fallen that I reflected to myself "I sure wouldn't like to be an Arab man in New York today." And I can pretty much guarantee that I wasn't the only one to have that very thought.
posted by clevershark at 11:02 AM on September 4, 2003


I might have put on 3 or 4 pounds.
posted by bradth27 at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2003


I feel the same anger I did on 9/11; I feel the same overwhelming grief. Nothing in my heart has changed, and God forbid it ever does.

This person badly needs to move on, the fact that he doesn't want to feel less angry or griefstricken only underlines how far he has to go with the grieving process.
posted by biffa at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2003


I'm more apprehensive and think way more about dying than I used to. I've gone from feeling more American immediately after the attacks to being ashamed of the abuses we've done to our civil liberties internally and to our relations internationally. We held up Pearl Harbor as the ultimate cowardly act of "unprovoked" aggression for over 60 years, but Japan had reasons for attacking us that were much closer to being legitimate than our nonexistant ones for attacking Iraq. I want to be shocked that our government's covering up Saudi Arabia's involvement in the attacks, but I just end up sad and tired.

For a while after the attacks I was scared. I had anxiety attacks when I saw container ships, watched planes until they flew out of site to make sure they didn't crash, and worried about biological attacks. But now I forget about the (remote, but not nonexistant) possibility of domestic attacks and bask in warm, soothing denial.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2003


I take a different route to work so I don't have to pass a police roadblock. I would cringe, physically, every time I saw a truck stopped there, wondering if this was the bomb.

I still work across the street from the Capitol, in a building that was evacuated on 9/11, and again a month later (for a week) due to anthrax. I can no longer bring my key-ring pocket knife into the building. I make sure I have my housekey with me when I go to the bathroom, just in case I have to leave quickly.

I have an escape hood, an evacpack, 10 Powerbars, and a fifth of rum in my desk. It sucks to think I might need them one day. But I'm still here.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2003


This person badly needs to move on, the fact that he doesn't want to feel less angry or griefstricken only underlines how far he has to go with the grieving process.

biffa, I interpret Lileks' statement to mean that he does not want to forget the terror and grief caused that day, because allowing time to take the sting out of those wounds only makes it more likely that we'll become as complacent and vulnerable as we were before. We owe it to those who died on 9/11 not to forget -- not to extract revenge, as theorized by mooncrow -- but to be extra vigilant so that another 3,000 people aren't wiped out in the course of a few hours. We need to not forget the lesson of that day: That there are organized groups of people who are highly motivated and specifically trained to kill Americans simply because of the country in which they live. If you're an American, it matters not one whit to them if you hate the Bush administration, and opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If they could snuff you out and add you to the body count, they'd do it in a heartbeat and with a smile on their face. That's what we're up against. It pays not to forget that.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:30 AM on September 4, 2003 [1 favorite]


May I? pardonyou?-- fucking word, man.
posted by UncleFes at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2003


i'm pretty much the same person, except now if i got within 5 feet of dubyuh, i hawk a big loogy in his face.
posted by quonsar at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2003


Funny how it's easy to disregard the Rwanda and Bosnia genocides and yet remain the eternal victim because of 9/11.

James Lileks: What the hell does he have to be angry about? He's Caucasian, male, and living in the richest nation in the world. He has more opportunities in one day than a Third World citizen has in a lifetime. Is he being targeted because of his ethnicity? Is he being thrown into a camp and being repeatedly raped? Is he being buried alive in a pit by hateful condotierres paid a pack of cigarettes a day?

The 9/11 victimhood seems to me an excuse for the Angry White Male to make a comeback. Except this time it seems to be justified, even if you weren't anywhere near the WTC. And that's the sick cancer festering within the American psyche.
posted by ed at 11:48 AM on September 4, 2003


I would bet that most Americans are different than they were 2 years ago due more to the economy than to the terrorist attacks. Of course, the attacks had some effect on the economy, although how much is difficult to determine.
posted by pitchblende at 11:58 AM on September 4, 2003


"I have...a fifth of rum in my desk."

So what you're saying is that nothing's changed?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:58 AM on September 4, 2003


but to be extra vigilant so that another 3,000 people aren't wiped out in the course of a few hours

And to be honest that's probably good for lots of other people too as I suppose it prevents the US from using that as an excuse to go out and kill lots more innocent people. So fine, let him hang on to the fact that this monstrosity happened to people from a similar social group to him, and that they were far more important than the hundreds and thousands of other innocents who suffer and die but don't do it in easily televised nuggets and within easy reach of multiple news outlets.
posted by biffa at 12:17 PM on September 4, 2003


Two years later, and I'm still pissed that I never got to enjoy any of that sweet sweet terror sex.
posted by aramaic at 12:21 PM on September 4, 2003


After 9-11, we as a nation silently but tacitly decided that, were we to be punished for the sins, we might as well start committing them.

I found this statement chillingly accurate. In the very conservative law office where I herd the technology, I am one of two or three non-Republicans. When the war began in Iraq, the atmosphere here was festive. People hung pictures of Saddam Hussein on their doors with crosshairs over his head. The overall sense was, "We are dispensing some mighty fucking justice on this day, I can assure you!" I found the whole thing more than a little disturbing.

It makes you wonder where all the grownups went.
posted by vraxoin at 12:27 PM on September 4, 2003


"We owe it to those who died on 9/11 not to forget -- not to extract revenge, as theorized by mooncrow -- but to be extra vigilant so that another 3,000 people aren't wiped out in the course of a few hours."

If there is one lasting effect of 9/11/01 that I have had enough of, its people telling me what I owe because of that goddamn day. Get it straight right now; I, and nobody else reading this, owe those dead people one thing. Not the victems, and not the terrorists. My vigilance is what I owe those who live on with me, and those who come after me, not to those who've past
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:34 PM on September 4, 2003


*should read "Not I, and..."*
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2003


So what you're saying is that nothing's changed?

Heh heh. I should clarify a little, I suppose. They've told us to be ready to "shelter in place" for three days, to have clothes, food, water, etc. I have that all that, too, but I figured I'd throw in a bottle of liquor, if I'm going to be cooped up with my cow orkers for three damned days.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:47 PM on September 4, 2003


Get it straight right now

Sorry, Wulfgar!, didn't mean to make you go apopleptic with the proverbial "we".

I, and nobody else reading this, owe those dead people one thing.

Get this straight right now: I believe (as one of the people "reading this") that I do owe those people. I believe that if I had died on 9/11, leaving my wife a widow and my kids fatherless, that I would want people to at least learn from my death that complacency and denial is irresponsible. So I feel I owe it to them to not forget and to do what I can to not let it happen again. Different strokes for different folks, eh?
posted by pardonyou? at 12:50 PM on September 4, 2003


I'm generally more anxious, more willing to believe the worst of people, and still unemployed. But I am married to a wonderful woman, so I got that going for me.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:06 PM on September 4, 2003


"I figured I'd throw in a bottle of liquor, if I'm going to be cooped up with my cow orkers for three damned days."

I can sympathize, but I don't have a big enough desk to stash all the liquor I would need to be able to stand my cow orkers for three days.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:14 PM on September 4, 2003


Just so's I can get this straight, if hypothetically, you'd died on that day (as opposed to any other) you would want others to feel obligated by it? Complacency and denial are irresponsable at any given time, and I don't think you can make a very good argument that anybody's death (under a building or a bus) obligates anyone else to learn that.

However, if you wish to feel that you owe the dead, that's fine. I have many more instructional fatalities I'm sure I could present. But when you use the proverbial "we" (how innocent of you) you do a fair job of passing your sence of obligation onto others. That leads to things like world leaders telling us that we owe it to the dead to attack other nations ... you now, silly stuff like that.

That's one thing about me that hasn't changed since 9/11. I don't tend to take it kindly when others tell me what I owe for their entitlement.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:22 PM on September 4, 2003


Pardonyou?

Uh, wouldn't that be pretty much the same thing as
My vigilance is what I owe those who live on with me, and those who come after me, not to those who've past that Wulfgar! said, except slightly less rationally explained?
posted by Espoo2 at 1:37 PM on September 4, 2003


We owe it to the dead to recognize and shoulder our obligations to the living. One of those obligations is to do everything in our power to prevent those who sent those people to their deaths to never have the opportunity or means to do it again, and to see that they are punished appropriately - though it may be a thankless, dirty, ugly job - for having done it in the first place.

And to remember that we once failed, however innocently, in these obligations, else the dead would still be alive.
posted by UncleFes at 2:08 PM on September 4, 2003 [1 favorite]


Somehow, some way, against all odds and though it sounds implausible, I've noticed that since Sept 11th Kraft Macaroni & Cheese has tasted even cheesier.
posted by dhoyt at 2:32 PM on September 4, 2003


We owe it to the dead to recognize and shoulder our obligations to the living. One of those obligations is to do everything in our power to prevent those who sent those people to their deaths to never have the opportunity or means to do it again, and to see that they are punished appropriately - though it may be a thankless, dirty, ugly job - for having done it in the first place.

And by god, if I have to eradicate thousands of completely unconnected and innocent Iraqi's to do it, then that's a price I'm willing to pay.
posted by biffa at 3:12 PM on September 4, 2003


One of those obligations is to do everything in our power to prevent those who sent those people to their deaths to never have the opportunity or means to do it again, and to see that they are punished appropriately

Unfortunately, it's two years later and apparently Osama bin Laden is alive, free, and convening summits.
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on September 4, 2003


apparently allegedly
posted by dhoyt at 3:34 PM on September 4, 2003


I have trouble sleeping at night, but that might be due to the crying baby.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:48 PM on September 4, 2003


My world changed on 9/11. And since then, of my co-workers have had their worlds "changed," some in major ways, others in a more "eternal" sense.

And I changed, too. More resolved. More committed to the reasons that I wear a uniform. More pride in my fellow servicemen and women. More appreciation for those who served in previous wars. More willing to do whatever I can to ensure that something like 9/11 never happens again.

No jingoism. No blind patriotism. Just a simple, powerful recognition of the fact that America was, is, and will be A Good Thing. Not perfect, not without flaw, but Good.

Does that make me some sort of a "monster" in the eyes of any fellow MeFites?
posted by davidmsc at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2003


Not perfect, not without flaw, but Good

America is not good, not while your president decides to go to war on some rather tenuous evidence and drags September 11th into his reasoning.
Not good not while things like Panama or Chile are sanctioned. Not good while a place like the College of The Americas is allowed to exist.

As long as that sort of thing goes on America will never be "good". American people, yes, but America as a concept, as a place of freedom and democracy? No.
As far as I see it, your quote should read ("Not perfect, not without flaw". No more than that.
posted by tomcosgrave at 5:16 PM on September 4, 2003


amen.
posted by Espoo2 at 5:26 PM on September 4, 2003


tenuous evidence and drags September 11th into his reasoning.
{s-tag}
well, would cheap oil, business, new construction and new weaponary be a good enough reason?
{s-tag}

i learned something from a long gone MeFi. It is that one should not to, in that case Burma, ascribed something like "Good" or Xenophobic in the later case, to a specific country. (In serious conversation)
It makes the government look like it solely represents the people in a country said government controls. (that word being subject to many meanings but i pray you see the context).

The question of "good" is not of government but of it's people and that does not necessarly represent the government. I happen to feel this way about Cuba. It is a matter of a countries people.
America.
America is a difficult concept to grasp in the scope of history.
(however short it may be...and it is short. My grandmother listened to stories of the civil war and these who told those stories where told stories of the war if 1812...etc)

America is not good, not while

america is evil...while your president decides

is this really the case?
to go to war

Congress was designed to represent something like "the will of the people" and they voted to use rather severe measures in confronting this terrorism.

so war is what made america evil?
posted by clavdivs at 6:26 PM on September 4, 2003


Since 9/11, I've learned to dispise Congress. Bush is incompetent (argument for another venue), but Congress abdicated one of the primary powers given it to protect the people. Congress gave the President the unilateral power to involve us in a war (yes, just this one time, but still, it was shirking responsability). What has "made America evil" is that the representation of the people is now a sad joke, offering a possible dictatorial power free reign. I used to trust that Congress would help to represent me. 9/11 proved that trust a failure.

Davidmsc, I still respect your service, as well as that of your comrades. 9/11 hasn't had anything to do with that, nor should it, nor will it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:00 PM on September 4, 2003


Understood, Wulfgar. I know that there are people who support us (U.S. military) while opposing the policies that we serve to implement.
posted by davidmsc at 8:09 PM on September 4, 2003


Europe's casual condescension continues, and I'll skip the long oration on the appropriateness of a lecture from not-exactly-terrorist-free Ireland. In any event, I disagree. America has been, and will be again, a force for peace, prosperity, and freedom in this world. Because, in the end, America doesn't know how to do anything else.

No minds changed here. This is my last post to Mefi on the subject of 9/11 or anything related to 9/11 until well after 9/11. I heartily recommend that all do the same.
posted by UncleFes at 9:01 PM on September 4, 2003


You know what affected me the most about 9/11? A feeling of deep, sincere, and heartfelt relief that, after all the revisions of statistics was over, that only about 3000 human beings perished that day, when the targets were the workplaces of something over 100,000.

And I look for the answers to why the "body count" (a difficult term since most left very little of their bodies behind) was as low as it was, and I see two things:

A lot of heroism among the attacked, from the fact that more than 1 out of 10 of the victims at Ground Zero were professional 'rescuers' who entered the doomed buildings after the first plane hit, to the still-shaky legend of the uprising among the hijacked on the fourth plane that is still the best explanation why it caused zero casualties on the ground.

And a lot of stupidity on the part of the terrorists. Much of the success of the WTC evacuation was due to the fact that only the second plane came close to hitting the buildings' "sweet spot" and failed to achieve the sudden catastrophic implosion the might have hoped for. Not to mention the fact that the fools attacked too early in the morning, when more than half of their human targets had not yet taken their place within the bulls-eye. (Or maybe they weren't even thinking about the people and just thought of the Twin Towers as obscenely phallic symbols of American Wealth, thus ignoring the even more truly American symbol a few miles away in the Statue of Liberty? A question I'll never get a good answer to.) And didn't one of those post-9/11 Bin Laden tapes have him expressing joyful surprise that the towers pancaked? As for that other target, The Pentagon? Military symbolism, sure, but with nearly as many workers arranged on a horizontal plane as opposed to the WTC's vertical, by itself a kill count that was lower than many other terrorist attacks.

What's my point? Well, from my cubicle on the second floor of a two-story building in the outskirts of Pasadena, California, which earlier that summer had been evacuated due to a threat by a brush fire, and having previously survived my own terrorist bomb attack (a story I've retold too many times), on 9/11 I mourned the loss of life, noted that the monetary loss was more significant than the human cost, and feared most the likelihood that a few suicidal punk fanatics who 'got lucky' would get the honor of re-defining my nation's character, which they did.

If I ever go to New York City, I'll avoid the Ground Zero monument, but I'll be sure to visit the Statue of Liberty.

And I second UncleFes' recommendation.
posted by wendell at 11:41 PM on September 4, 2003 [1 favorite]


Just a simple, powerful recognition of the fact that America was, is, and will be A Good Thing. Not perfect, not without flaw, but Good.

Funnily enough, I came to the conclusion a while back that one of the problems the US has with relating to the rest of the world and its perceptions of the US is that US citizens believe that they are good, and that stemming from this, their actions must also be good, leading to a circle of self-justification. Now obviously I'm generalising and this doesn't apply to all but does it apply to enough to carry the day? For example, how many Americans justified the Iraq attack on the basis that the president must know something? How many will leap to the defence of US policy simply because it is US policy? (Not to say this doesn't happen with other countries and their citizens, but largely other countries can't back this up with overwhelming military, financial and political muscle.)
posted by biffa at 2:00 AM on September 5, 2003


Since I brought James Lileks into this, I thought I would link to his thoughts on this thread. Note this at the end:

This is why I left Metafilter right after 9/11. They don’t mind if you’re angry. You can be angry about important things, like Microsoft security lapses and Ashcroft crusades. But 200 stories of skyscraper falling to the ground? Thousands dead, ten thousand orphaned, ten million mourning?

Dude. Get a grip.


I don't disagree. It's threads like this that make me wonder why I stick around and beat my head against a wall. I think I'll take UncleFes' lead and just duck out of this subject from here on out.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:46 AM on September 5, 2003 [1 favorite]


September 11 had a double impact for me, both on the purely emotional/personal level of "oh my god oh my god oh my god" but also on a professional level since I work for the (Canadian) federal government, in the department responsible for transportation safety and security.

I can't say that I'm a different person now than I was before the attacks, but I can say that at the time it was incredibly trying to be at the office, 100% immersed in the news, in keeping up with new policy decisions being made every 5 minutes, with not knowing what the hell was going on, and then to go home and be 100% immersed in the news, in trying to assimilate the scope of events, and not knowing what the hell was going on. Plus the fact that my sister had been visiting from New Zealand and had to try to get home the day after North American airspace reopened. I don't think I slept until I knew she was safe and sound.

And just like last fall when the first anniversary rolled around, right now I feel this absolute sense of dread. I can't help but think, "Okay...So when does the other shoe drop?"
posted by melimelo at 7:05 AM on September 5, 2003


'No minds changed here. This is my last post to Mefi on the subject of 9/11 or anything related to 9/11 until well after 9/11. I heartily recommend that all do the same.'

I think you should have kept your last post on the subject to the one before you posted in this thread to be honest. But hey, everyone else should shut up now you've had your final word. Ah well, at least you've managed to illustrate just what hasn't changed.

'Europe's casual condescension continues...'
Riiiight. Who is this Mr Europe then? And why is he being so mean and rude to poor downtrodden Individual Americans like yourself? And WTF do you actually mean by that anyway?

'...and I'll skip the long oration on the appropriateness of a lecture from not-exactly-terrorist-free Ireland.'

Oh dear. Here's a thought: maybe you should listen as it comes from a place with, sadly, years of experience. But then many, many countries have experience of terrorism. Sensible people learn from experience, both their own & that of others. Try it sometime...like just before you [and I am actually blaming you personally] run into another oil field in search of non-existent WMDs & stir up even more anti-Western hatred.

Of course now that the US is experiencing terrorism on its soil it is the most important thing ever & everyone else should just STFU cuz we know nothing cuz we're not free and good, we're mean and nasty and condescending. And not American.

Then again, as you are taking the thoughts of a few MeFites to be that of entire countries & continents [Bismarck!] I'll say a big thank you to good people like yourself who have helped fund the terrorism in Ireland & the UK over the years. That'll learn us.

America has been, and will be again, a force for peace, prosperity, and freedom in this world. Because, in the end, America doesn't know how to do anything else.

OK. Well now you are talking complete bollocks. Ultimately this is the problem. Not a uniquely 'American' problem either.
'We are good, we are right, we can only do this.' [Rpt until end of world]


Damn. I wanted to post something nice until I read UF's posts
posted by i_cola at 9:11 AM on September 5, 2003


I'm glad to see the debate rages on. Lots of differing views here and I think that is part of what I was thinking about when I first came up with the idea.

Like it or not, I would consider myself within the list of people who have changed. Two years later, I'm still trying to figure out how. It's an uneasy feeling. I figured that two years might give us some perspective.

I first came up with the project concept a few weeks ago. Initially, it was intended to be a rumination on personal introspection. Then it switched to being something about our reactions to events since then. And then I decided that it was not my job to figure out what the question meant for anyone but myself. That's when I figured that I'd just ask the question: who were we then? who are we now? I don't know how many people will participate but I know that this thread, along with some of the first entries I've received linked for, are helping me better understand my thoughts (Metafilter as a free analyst service! :) )

Thanks to all of you guys for participating (though I do not agree with all the stuff said in the thread, it has given me much to think about and some of it will probably be reflected in my entry on 9/11)
posted by TNLNYC at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2003


Counting up all the ways 9/11 has impacted my life in the past two years would take way, way, way too long. I'd have to stick some of it in, I dunno, a blog or something so I could vent and not go over-the-edge nuts.

So let's just concentrate on one major and telling way it will directly impact my life in the next few months: there will be armed guards at my wedding.

No, not by my choice. I am getting married in November at the Harmonie Club in New York. It's one of the many social clubs that dot the city; directly across the street from it, in fact, is another hoity-toity club that J.P. Morgan started because he was too nouveau riche to be let into the snobbier Social Register clubs of his day. The Harmonie was likewise founded when its original members weren't allowed to step inside, much less join, any of the city's other clubs: they were German-American Jews. Its membership has been mainly Jewish ever since.

Which means it's a target for terrorists. If you think I'm being overdramatic, consider that one of the more recent "code orange" alerts was issued in reponse to threats against specifically Jewish targets: synagogues, day schools, social venues, charities. (See this transcript [Microsoft Word document] of a conference call with a Reform synagogues umbrella group and the FBI and ADL for an example of what's been going on behind the scenes.) Considering Al Qaeda's and other terrorist groups' targeting and bombing of synagogues in Tunisia and elsewhere, these seem like necessary, if heartbreaking, precautions to take.

I've been inside four or five different synagogues since 9/11 and passed by another one every day on my way to work. I found the heavy security at every one of them frightening, not reassuring, in its visibility and intensity. You can identify a synagogue in NYC these days (at least the three I've been to/passed: Park Ave., Park East, and Central) by the huge concrete barriers all around them to protect them from truck bombs. But the worst is going through metal detectors, or having false alarm bomb threats while you're sitting at High Holidays services.

Anyway. Around the same time as that alert, the Harmonie Club started posting armed guards, plural, at its doorway. They're in suits or tuxedos, but they look like bouncers and you know they're packing. I don't know if there was a specific threat against the club, and I doubt many terrorists are reading up on the social habits of a couple hundred New York Jews and where they like to eat their Sunday bagel and shmear or play a game of cards or work out in the gym.

But the upshot is that to literally millions of people on the planet, me, my family, my fiance, and my fiance's family are all not only evil Americans whose nationality alone makes us targets, but are also just a bunch of infidel Yids. Causing our deaths or the deaths of our neighbors merits actual street parties in some parts of the world, where offing Jews in large numbers at family gatherings (Passover in Netanyia, anyone?) is considered a coup, not a crime.

It's a little hard not to take that kind of thing personally. But apparently some people would rather believe that pointing out the ways in which the "incident" directly affected and continues to affect our daily life is just wallowing in victimhood or being geopolitically immature or crying over spilled milk or something. Don't mind the beefy guys packing heat at your wedding so Al Qaeda won't barge in, spill a cocktail or two, and maybe slaughter you and your guests for kicks. Far better for us all to ask ourselves "why do they hate us? was it the color scheme for the bridesmaids' dresses?"

As for mooncrow and his fanboys, I think I'm going to have to cede to Lileks' response. He's far calmer and more articulate on the subject than I could ever hope to be when faced with such disgusting, amoral bile.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:31 PM on September 5, 2003


I've just updated the site to make it easier for everyone. If, once you've created your entry, you point here then click on the link to it from your permalink, your entry will appear automatically. I've also added an RSS feed to go along with it so if other people want to get the list up on their site (or read it from their aggregator) they can just grab the RSS feed.
posted by TNLNYC at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2003


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