.journal 2002.09.11

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Obligatory one year later entry

Now listening to: Michael Jones, Michael’s Music
Now reading: Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Phantasy Star II (Genesis)

Yeah, I’m saying something too. After all I’ve had to endure these past few weeks about today, I’ve just got too much on my mind to keep it all bottled up.

I’m aware that there were a number of people out there who were jolted by some of the things I said about 2001.09.11 last year. Well, hey, I like to jolt. If I can get you to think with the stuff I write in this journal, then it’s been worth it to me. The whole reason Jeremy and I were able to reconcile was because he took offence with some of the things I said back then. We agreed to disagree on our interpretations of those events, but that opened up a dialogue about other things, through which we patched up some rather regrettable things we’d done.

And, as always, people misinterpreted some of the things I said, often deliberately. But hey, I’ve been used to that since I first got on the Internet close to eight years ago. It happens, and thankfully now it takes a lot more to get under my skin these days. (Although from some of the things I’ve heard of recently, some of you still aren’t anywhere close to being on the ball with some of the stuff you’re saying.)

I knew that my opinions would be unpopular when I voiced them. People didn’t want to hear them, and you know what? That’s just tough. This is my forum, and I can say whatever I want on here. I’ll even admit that sometimes I will exaggerate things when I write here, or twist the truth a little. No matter how much stuff you read online, you can’t really get to know a person just by what s/he puts on his/her blog. But my opinions about 09.11 have been true to my heart.

I’ve deliberately been avoiding going to Websites, turning on the news, doing anything that would remind me of 09.11, today. To be honest, I got sick of that sort of stuff by 09.18 last year, as once the shock value wore off, I could see all the sick games people were playing in the aftermath. I got a nice dose of perspective to see the attacks for what they really were, and then was able to sit back and watch the sociology of it all. As you could guess, I didn’t like what I saw.

The question I keep wrestling with is, did 09.11 bring out the best of us? I think, in some cases, certainly. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the people who lost their lives in the events, as well as people who were family or friends of those who were lost. I have incredible respect for the firemen and policemen of New York City for the work they did that day, although I still can’t forgive some of the deplorable things the NYPD has done since Giuliani gave them more power than they needed or deserved. There was a tremendous amount of sincere charity in the aftermath of the events, and I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate that.

But that being said, didn’t 09.11 bring out the worst of us too?

Didn’t 09.11 show how ignorant most of the United States is about our country’s own Middle East policies? The scope of 09.11 may have been shocking, but how can anyone be shocked as to why the Arab community in that part of the world hates us? The United States gives Israel more money than any other country in the world, even though Israel has a stronger, more diverse economic infrastructure than any other country in that region. (Some of the Arab states may have strong assets because of their oil reserves, but that power is concentrated among the select few, as opposed to Israel’s wealth which is more widespread — among the Israelis only, of course.) All that US money dogeared for Israeli defence spending gets redigested back into the American defence industry, propping them up and creating a grotesque, self-perpetuating economic-political cycle, dependent on humankind’s hatred for humankind to survive. Instead of promoting peace, the United States government, and a sizable chunk of its business sector, has a vested interest in promoting warfare.

Meanwhile, the poor in many Arab countries continue to get poorer while the United States turns a blind eye. At least most Western Europe countries try to take a more even-handed approach in their dealings with Arab countries. And if the Arab countries try to secure IMF funding, they’ll be forced to turn over key national industries to foreign interests, cripple their own education funding and throw themselves into the riptide of globalization, all because the Europeans have “won” and now they’re forcing the rest of the world to adapt to their systems of government and commerce because they’re the only “right” ones.

And didn’t 09.11 show how empty and hollow this culture has become? One of my professors was at Kenyon College, about 90 minutes away from Kent State, when the National Guard opened fire there over thirty years ago, and she pointed out how much more changed her generation was by Kent State than we’ve been by 09.11, even in just a year’s time. In the short run all everyone did was plaster American flags on their gas-guzzling SUVs in a faux sense of patriotism, an empty fad just like Britney Spears and her ilk. I’ve seen more flags over the past few weeks, but do most of them really mean anything? Why do people feel so noble just for smacking a decal on their rear windows, then go back to being so ignorant about the underlying causes of what happened? That’s not patriotism, that’s just being another sheep in the flock.

And didn’t 09.11 show how hypocritical we are as a nation? Over the past decade scores of killings have taken place on a daily basis in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Rwanda, and so many other places. And what does our “news” industry do? Spend half of every television broadcast and newspaper discussing the fact that Bill Clinton got some blowjobs in the White House. Big fucking whoop. Hundreds of thousands people have died in the very recent past in wars, in civil wars, in ethnic cleansings, and America’s so myopic we can’t get past the titilation of a sex scandal. But no, when the killing takes place on American soil (never mind that people from around seventy nations died 09.11), all of a sudden England replaces “God Save the Queen” with “The Star-Spangled Banner”, all of a sudden Japan passes legislation to override the 50-year clause in their constitution prohibiting their military from operating outside of Japanese territory, all of a sudden the world has to stop and cry for us. That’s so absurd it’s not even funny.

And didn’t 09.11 show how pigheaded the United States is? Ever since those events, all of a sudden we’re demanding the entire world play on our terms. We want to prosecute those who were involved, and we want them to be subject to the death penalty, even though the United States and Japan are the only two industrialized countries to support that archaic, barbaric code. We want everyone else to kowtow to our “War on Terror”, as can be so clearly seen in our attempts to get worldwide support to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Even if the rest of the world tells the United States not to do it (except for Tony Blair, whose spinelessness is a black mark on the Labour Party), we just nonchalantly turn our backs. We’re the United States, dammit, don’t we have the right to do whatever we want, whenever we please? Sigh.

And didn’t 09.11 show us how disgustingly opportunistic the Republican Party is? Ever since the events of that day, there has been a clear attempt by the Republicans to prolong the concept of this “War on Terror” as long as possible, which isn’t hard considering that the way this “War” is defined, it will never end, but keep going. And of course, when a country is at “War”, all of a sudden those in power receive this great trust from the American people. Just ask Dubya’s daddy about that one. Hey, just go by Gallup and look at the breakdown in Dubya’s approval ratings: he’s gone from 90% since the days after 09.11 to about 65% now, but virtually all that decline has come from Democrats and Independents. The Republicans are aggrandizing Dubya into the next FDR, and don’t think they’re not going to night masturbating themselves to thoughts of following Dubya with Cheney, and Powell, and Giuliani, and Katherine Harris, and so on, perpetuating their takeover of the executive branch indefinitely.

You know, it would be easy for me to talk about how alone I feel in all of this, how I can see all of this so easily, but yet I drive over to school today and there’s everyone in front of the Student Union listening to the “remembrance service”. And all they’re doing is waiting to drive back home at a rate of three miles per gallon of gas, stereos blasting out the latest atrocious boy band bullshit, waiting until this weekend for the next kegger, continuing on just as normal with their empty lives. But they’ve got an American flag on their car, so they must be patriotic, right?

Fuck that. I’m not a patriot, because this whole “American Dream” stuff is a bunch of bullshit. This whole image of a “melting pot” has gone too far, because now that we’ve homogenized and dumbed down every aspect of our culture, we’re flinging that noxious, inedible soup to all four corners of the world, trying to make everywhere on earth a little mini-America, and anyone who doesn’t want to “blend in” with this sickening Western “culture” is ostracized, left to die on their own until such time as they let Western companies buy everything of importance in the country, decimate the land and its people, and build up more exploitive businesses that can take advantage of the impoverished citizenry. I’m not saying America isn’t the greatest country on the planet, but I’m saying that regardless of how you rank it, it still sucks.

Maybe I am one of a few who will dare to say these things. But even though we are small in number, we may yet be right. And even if some of my conclusions are wrong (and I’ve certainly been wrong in some of my past prognostications), I know I’m still right when I get on my soapbox, point my megaphone in the general direction of the American public and say, “WAKE UP FROM YOUR EMPTY LIVES AND START USING YOUR BRAINS FOR ONCE!”

Everyone take care and be well. I’ll see you around.

— Sean

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