Skip to comments.9/11 Survivors Should Stop Moaning
Posted on 09/07/2002 7:53:16 AM PDT by Commie Basher
Let me be among the too-few columnists in this self-absorbed, egocentric, materialistic, pleasure-obsessed, jingoistic country of ours to cry out into the great mindless void that no, in fact, we have not changed in the year since September 11.
Moreover, since I feel so much better getting that off my chest, let me add that I am achingly weary of seeing Americans treat the tragedy as if it outstrips every other contemporary tragedy in our world, and I am irked beyond belief that the victims of September 11 and their survivors are treated with a holy sanctity not afforded to other victims and other survivors of man's horrific actions against mankind.
Indeed, I say without shame to America's ever-growing, increasingly troubling and loudly throbbing Cult of Nine Eleven, "For God sakes, get a grip!"
Get a grip, people, before this unholy rapture gets its grip on you.
The media tells us that Lisa Beamer, the angel-faced widow of doomed United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, is a wondrously courageous young woman because she so quickly and efficiently set up the Todd A. Beamer Foundation to help kids get over horrible accidents and other traumas.
But lately I see her as a crass promotions whiz who has trademarked the "Let's Roll!" phrase on ballcaps and T-shirts, banged out a book about her pain, and created a Web site that flashes "Now on sale!" alternating with the not-so-comforting blinking message "Finding Hope in a Time of Crisis!"
A California housewife who was virtually assured a life of anonymity before September 11, Lisa is a star today, as her Web site informs us with its list of her current appearances on Dateline NBC and Larry King Live. Indeed, groups clamoring for a speaker from the Beamer Foundation can hope only for a visit from one of the founding members, not always the vaunted Lisa herself, and must fill out a form on the Web site to be considered.
Not to be outdone in finding an angle on the tragedy, Larry Silverstein, the developer who held the lease on the World Trade Center when it was destroyed by the terrorists, is insisting that he is entitled to a double payment on his $7 billion insurance coverage for the buildings because his property was destroyed in two "separate occurrences."
Worst of all are the several hundred families of the 2,823 people who died on September 11 and have flatly refused payments offered by the federal taxpayer-funded Victim's Compensation Fund. Many are now represented by Trial Lawyers Care, whose brochure enticing families to join states, "If ever there were a cause that demanded our most magnificent effort as lawyers, as human beings, as Americans -- this is it."
And magnificent the trial lawyers have been. They have persuaded families to sue the bejesus out of everybody from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built the towers, to those they allege underwrote Osama bin Laden. Thus the families are suing the Sudanese government, the Saudi royal family, banks and charities for more than $1 trillion, and the miners and distributors of the South African gemstone tanzanite -- who allegedly helped bankroll bin Laden -- for $1 billion.
Turning their noses up at the feds' offer of $600,000 to $2 million per family, many relatives have become polished victims who trot in front of microphones to bemoan the stinginess of the government and the unfairness of the courts. Currently they are demanding that a federal judge ignore a New York state law that requires that any lawsuit against the Port Authority be filed within one year of the incident -- by September 10, in this instance.
The mostly timid media have portrayed all this greed, self-absorption and self-promotion in the hushed and funereal tones of a nation still in mourning. But a year of this play-acting is more than enough, already.
I conducted an unofficial survey of friends and acquaintances on this subject, the kind of people I'd talk about it with over drinks. And a surprising number agreed with me.
Frank Megna, founder of Working Stage Theater in West Hollywood, who directed the currently running play The Emissary, about a young Jewish man who flees New York after his mom and his rabbi die on the same day (not to 9/11, thank God), says Americans are addicted to acting out for the media. And when it comes to September 11, he's sick of it, just like me.
"After Baby Jessica got trapped in that hole, private disasters became mini-series for TV, and private citizens began playing to the cameras," says Megna. "The 9/11 victims think they are getting closer to the truth by baring it all, but what we are seeing is a whole distortion of what they are actually experiencing. It's really more like a farce."
Like me, he doesn't like it that the relatives of the 9/11 victims are gaining a sense of entitlement. Once someone bares his or her soul to the camera, that person wants to be reimbursed -- and that's true to the one-trillionth power for September 11 relatives.
At the same time, the audience is acting just as deplorably. God, the treacle and carrying on from perfect strangers as the first anniversary draws near. I would not hold their tears against anyone in America if I thought they gave a rip about even three or four of the very nice people who got squished to bits when 20,023 souls were snuffed out by a quake on January 26, 2001, in India.
Or if they cared about the 1,100 people drowned and trampled to death in Nigeria on January 27 as they fled down two muddy canals to escape horrific explosions at a huge munitions depot.
Don't recall those tragedies very well, do you?
You see, these disasters happened to foreigners. I don't recall them getting more than a few seconds on the networks. You'd think that here in Los Angeles, in the case of the Indian quake, we'd at least make a mental note: 20,000 dead, 7.7 earthquake, get more bottled water.
But after all, man didn't do that to man. A quake can't be helped. So it's forgotten in an evening or two by us bighearted, courageous citizens of the best country on Earth.
I would argue that most Americans do not even pay attention to the global disasters man rains down upon man. The latest data from UNICEF shows that 90 percent of the victims of armed conflict around the globe are children and women. Last year, several thousand children were slain. Many had been forced to fight.
UNICEF believes that the global age for military recruitment should be 18, not 15 or even younger. According to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., the United States "stands as the major obstacle to raising the minimum age for combat to 18 years." (One major rationale is that such a move would offend a number of our allies.) Fascinating, no?
It would be lovely if generous September 11 donors -- like you -- who are sending traumatized New York firefighters on their third and fourth trips to Hawaii and Disneyland stepped back and reflected on the relativity of it all. Perhaps you could send a letter to your congressperson calling them a slippery eel for not fighting our support of child soldiers in foreign lands.
Another friend, Kevin Scott, a Westside bond analyst who has watched with interest as New York has slowly rebuilt from the ashes, is as fed up as I with Americans' isolationist attitudes and sacrosanct view of all things September 11.
"For example," says Scott, "we're not supposed to criticize New York, how it handled the crisis, how it is handling it now. Yet there were so many screwups it's incredible, and I'm sick of the silence."
Indeed, it's past time to talk about the widespread incompetence, now coming to light, during the police and fire response on September 11. It turns out emergency radios do not work well at all during disasters -- and the fire officials in New York have known this for years. Moreover, authority broke down completely when firefighters broadly ignored orders (the few they could hear) from their brass not to rush up the staircases -- and many of them died as a result.
I began by saying we haven't changed since September 11, but given the way we've been behaving there's a chance Americans could change -- for the worse.
Partly, what makes us not Bosnia, or Israel, or Angola, or Kashmir, or Palestine is that we do not obsessively nurse our most profound grievances against other peoples from generation to generation, nor turn our worst bloodlettings into our most revered holidays.
Can you imagine how we'd hate the Brits if we were still deeply pissed off about the Revolution? Or how awful it would be if grade-schoolers sang morbid songs about the rotting Civil War dead at Richmond?
We reject the mournful, noir world of self-pitying, self-aggrandizing, excess-testosterone tribalism. We say, let other countries wallow in that if they must. But more and more, I sniff a hint of wallowing. I hear a bit of tribal whining.
So, on September 11, I suggest that you not light a candle for the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Plenty of others will do so for you.
Instead, say a prayer for the 20,000 obliterated in India, or the 1,100 trampled in Nigeria, or the untold dead child soldiers. Do not buy a "Let's Roll!" T-shirt, but do send a dollar to an Afghan group helping illiterate girls and boys learn to read normal childhood books. Play a small part in helping our self-indulgent nation to become a better citizen of the world. You'll feel oh so much better.
newtimesla.com | originally published: September 5, 2002
2. These punks are commuist. Communism = slow, painful death.
I disagree. Taking this logic to another extreme is the same thing as saying, 'don't join the U.S. military. Plenty of others will do the dying for you.'
I surely do.
This happened to people of our country, the country that helps others all the time, the country that has lost many in battle to save the lives of others. We have always tried hard to do good for others, though not perfectly so, we have been there to help the world over. We go out of our way in this society, especially the left, to give handouts to all kinds of people who do nothing and never will do anything. These were people going to work and trying to make a life snuffed out. If my tax money is going to anyone, I would want it to be those families, not to some drunk jerk who wants another bottle of wine.
They may not be graceful, some may be using the system, but overall people lost somthing they will never ever get back.
This is not the high point of history, the most momentous event of all time and space, the greatest suffering ever to inflict a nation. Some 50,000 Americans die every year on the road. And yes, she's right, 20,000+ Indians apparently died in a quake.
But some Americans seem to want to wrap themselves in the bloody flag of 9/11, and devote all their lives to "remembering" and "comemorating" forever and ever...
She's right. I do not BARF at this article, I applaud it. Like she said, let's not be like other nations, let's not nurse our wounds for centuries. The cliche holds true: Time to move on.
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