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september 11 revisited: part 2 in a series

September 11 revisted: part 2 in a series

Please skip this post if you think that a) enough has already been written about September 11 or b) you think Americans should just get on with their lives and stop whining

CNN Poll: Majority say U.S. is not back to normal.

So what do you define as normal?

Today's Newsday has a story of a 15 year old Muslim boy attacked and beaten in front of his mother. The cretins who beat this innocent boy accused the kid of being responisble for attacking the World Trade Center, and asked him if he was connected to bin Laden.

The thing is, if the two attackers and their onlookers did not beat this boy, it would have been someone else. If September 11 never happened, these men would still be biased morons, and they may have turned their anger towards someone of another nationality, another race.

In the aftermath of September 2001, too many people used the tragedy as an excuse for bad behavior. Not hate crimes in particular, but just misguided anger and hostility. I have always had this problem with facing down aggression with more aggression.

I wrote on October 21, 2001:

What I have a problem with is the glorification of his impending doom. As I drive, I see cars and vans with pictures of Laden taped to the back windows, targets drawn on his face and bullet holes sketched onto his forehead. I see banners hanging on parkway overpasses, with slogans like "Kick his ass, USA!" and "Death to bin Laden!" I hear them in restaurants and schools and grocery stores, plotting the most evil, violent death possible. But I don't see this alone. My children see it. They hear it. They see this country hell bent on revenge and death and destruction, and they see people waving their death wishes around like flags.

Violence begets violence. We know this. It is the basis of all wars. But it doesn't have to be so consuming. It doesn't have to be so bold and in your face. When they say "make a joyful noise" I don't think they mean shouts of war. I don't like the way we are teaching the future leaders of this country that an almost gleeful violence is the way to confront your enemies. That's what the WWF is for.

Don't get me wrong, please. I am not saying that Laden shouldn't be dealt anything less than death. I'm just asking, can we tone it down a bit? Can we not seem so giddy about taking lives? Can we not be so gung ho about the systematic destruction of another country? Can we not be so glib about revenge and war?

Think about what kids are seeing. Think about the signs and banners and posters that promote spilled blood. Think about the fact that this country already has a problem with hostile, angry kids who do not know how to act upon those feeling without reaching for a gun. Think about the message your slogans are sending.

And here's the problem. This is normal. America is full of trigger-happy, violence prone, knee-jerk reactionaries. And they need a slogan for everything. A slogan for your war, a slogan for your disasters, a slogan for your vengeance.

When they say has America returned to normal, do they mean are hate crimes against people other than Muslims resuming? Do they mean are murders and rapes and child abuse occurring at their normal pace?

It was like this before last year. September 11 just gave the ignorant morons of our society another racial group to target. And unfortunately, all the rhetoric and slogans and bumper stickers gave them, in their minds, justification for their violence and hatred.

Oh, it should be noted that the two attackers of the young Muslim boy were arrested when they returned to the scene to look for their glasses. Which just goes to show you the level of intelligence we are dealing with when it comes to hatred and violence.

The CNN poll asks, Has America returned to normal?

Can someone please define for me what normal is in this regard? Do they mean have people stopped using patriotism as justification for anger? Was the country really any different before this?

*ed. note: You don't have to be American to respond to this post!

Comments

I don't know that I ever considered the US to be "normal." but if you mean to ask if the US is one again the big, arrogant, bully on that lives at the end of the block, then I'll have to go with yes.

Yes, I think that's what I was going for, in part.

define normal, good question. what was normal, for the united states, prior to the events of 9-11? a state of ignorant bliss? a feeling of being outside, or above, the rest of the world?

i hope things aren't back to normal, anyway. although, if kismet's definition is the one you choose, perhaps they are. it's sad how the current administration betrays what makes america special, and sad how so many americans accept that.

Well done, Michele. I don't think we will ever be quite so naive as we once were, and it will be a very long time before many of us quit wincing when an aircraft passes overhead at low altitude. But we don't have soldiers with automatic weapons patrolling our airports (at least not at the two I visit most), and I have quit freaking out every time I hear the firefighters roll out of the squad-house down the street. So while you may be able to say we are getting back to "normal" I think you would have to admit that it's a new kind of normal. At least it seems that way to me.

Michele: I think you're right, except not.
Take Charles at LGF as an example. He used to run a blog about bicykling, webdesign and stuff, today it's basically a racists weblog conveying a message of hate towards muslims and arabs.

LGF: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/
My post about it: http://jogin.com/blog/archives/000104.php

I think that LGF deals more with Palestine/Israel relations than September 11. Yes, his site has changed since last year, but I think it's more in response to the rise in bombings in Israel than in response to the events of last fall.

honey, it's ok - axl rose is back on TV - everything is going to be alright.

Michelle, I hardly think that Americans are using patriotism as a pretext to war. I do believe that most Americans are using as a pretext for war the nearly three-thousand dead people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC, killed by members of a group that have declared war on America. No matter what brought us to this moment, "not fighting back" is an option lost to us.

Hi, in response to your last question (Was the country really any different before this?), No. Not in my opinion.

Small-minded, bigoted, and violent people are using patriotism not as a pretext for war, but as a pretext to behave like dickheads (the anger I believe she refers to) and to feel morally justified for doing so.

There have always been a small number of Americans who have used patriotism and other "good" impulses or emotions as a pretext for bouncing a brick off of someone's head. It wasn't acceptable behavior before September 11th, 2001, nor is it acceptable behavior after that date, not among the large majority of Americans, who in my experience are not as awful and bloodthirsty as one may think -- at least not any more so than anyone else on the surface of the earth in its entire history. For instance, I'm American, and I haven't killed anyone, though I will admit that when I was twelve I chased my sister around the house with a broom.

i read Tomas's post and the links he had, and from that, i'd have to go with LGF being a platform of hatred, based in patriotism, addressing not only the Israeli/Palestinian issues, but also general bigotry against Arab peoples, whether or not it was related to the in-fighting.

the American people tend to be a hot-headed bunch, and don't need much encouragement to go off in all manner of bad directions, especially where this issue is concerned. yes, a group of terrorists did unspeakable things to thousands of people from many countries, a year ago. and in the interim, there has been a great deal of violence and hatred directed to anyone perceived to be affiliated with Arab countries.

it's hard. it's hard to know who's the good or bad guy anymore. but espousing a generalized hatred and attitude of intolerance ... disturbs me. sorry for the babbling.

Everyone keeps mentioning a surge in anti-Arab feelings amongst Americans, but hatred and intolerance for Arabs is not taught in our public schools. It is not the accepted or the norm. In many Arab countries however, hatred for westerners, in particular the United States, is taught.

I think the reason we notice virrulent anti-Arab sentiment in the US is precisely because it's not common. It sticks out like a sore thumb and therefore we're able to identify and criticize it. If you want to look at a generalized hatred and attitude of intolerance you should consider how people not only accept that hatred for Americans exist, but how they even attempt to excuse and rationalize it.

Hey tomas...show me one article that Charles at LGF posted that is racist against Muslims! ONE! You are the kind of person that breezes over articles picking out keywords and then consequently making an uninformed decision...sorry buddy but you 100% WRONG...

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