Days of Lore
Recalling 9/11 Monday morning I was at work staring at my computer monitor … again … watching the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold … again.
As part of the five-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center CNN ran its entire 9/11 broadcast in real time on the network’s subscription-only online video service, CNN Pipeline. Was there really a point to this? Or was this just an attempt to lure some traffic to its Web site by playing off our emotions? You know … stir up sadness, anger and fear.
Maybe there was a good reason to re-play the entire day’s broadcast.
“In many ways and to many people, it was the day that changed everything,” said David Payne, senior vice president and general manager of CNN.com. “And while difficult, for many of us it is important to remember the emotion of that day.”
Remember the emotion of that day? How the hell do you forget passenger jets slamming into the sides of buildings? Or, people blanketed in ash running down the streets of Manhattan? Or, people jumping out of windows to their deaths? I don’t think anyone needs to see it again to remember what they felt that day.
And did that day really change anything? I held out some faint hope that we would use such a horrible tragedy to take a look at our oblivious-to-the-rest-of-the-world selves and try and understand why it happened—not from an intelligence standpoint, but maybe to ask ourselves why there are people in the world who want to harm us, or at the very least attempt to better understand the world outside our almighty empire.
Denial isn’t a river in Egypt The Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein had such hopes, too. Well, he was hopeful that such a catastrophic event would shake our tabloid-obsessed culture loose from the grips of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and who’s getting their sex on with whom.
“The truth is that the trauma of Sept. 11 did not change us, not so much because we live in a culture of superficiality as because we are imprisoned in a culture of hyperactivity,” Goldstein wrote. “We’re so inundated by juicy bites of information—both serious and tawdry—that we don’t have the psychic attention span to emotionally involve ourselves in much of anything. What we’re really good at is denial.”
The reality is that our country’s voracious appetite for escapism has probably increased, as evidenced by the countless number of tabloid and “reality” shows on TV.
Meanwhile, you have ABC airing a fictionalized Disney miniseries on the events that led up to 9/11. Insulting.
And 13 million people tuned in. Frightening.
Cool Keith Probably the most emotionally stirring thing I watched was not a replay of the towers crumbling to the Earth, but what Keith Olbermann had to say during his “Special Commentary” on MSNBC’s Countdown.
Olbermann passionately, succinctly and eloquently hit the mark, calling the president to task for using 9/11, among other things, “as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.”
Like me and others, Olbermann was hoping positive change might come from tragedy. Instead, we’re occupying a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks while the man being held responsible is probably still hanging out in some cave in Afghanistan.
Five years—a half-decade—later, what has changed?
Olbermann points out that the still-open wound at Ground Zero is an indication that the terrorists are still winning. And although his commentary took a bit of a turn toward the end when he brought in a Twilight Zone analogy, for the most part it was dead-on, and he offered no reprieve for the current administration and its actions, or lack thereof:
“History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation’s wounds, but to take political advantage.
“Terrorists did not come and steal our newly regained sense of being American first, and political 50th. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
“The president—and those around him—did that.”
Watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1OA2wHcBt4.
Making music with some friends For those who haven’t already taken part in a John LaPado sing-along, or for those who would like to do so again, head down to Duffy’s Tavern Sunday night (Sept. 17) for The John LaPado Variety Show. It’s free and it starts at 6 p.m. John would love to see you.