9/11: Never Forgetting to Ignore the Realities of Tragedy
An inscrutable event, obscured and protected from analysis and criticism by a thick veneer of memorialization — that is what we are left with. The deaths were all very real. And yet it becomes perpetrator versus perpetrator- one side being those of the individuals who let their individual beliefs dictate that they attack a collective, known as the American populace, on the basis of even broader national ideas, culture, and sentiments. The retaliation, and its perpetrators stepped down to equal footing. They acted against an entire region of the world with near impunity, acting against a collective nation for the actions of a series of individuals.
And how do these acts differ? Is there a cowardice to one type of terror and not to the terror brought by occupation?
We, as people, not as Americans, would do well not to forget the events of seventeen years ago for reasons beyond sentimental memorialization. We ought never forget so that we do not become those who do not know their history. We ought never forget so that such atrocities as the act against this nation and the actions of this nation may, at the very least, have a harder time repeating themselves.
I’ve no real delusions of conspiracy. It is almost irrelevant to me who planned and performed the action, as the reaction was much greater in both significance and effect. 2996 lives lost mean a lot to the individuals who feel connected to such loss or fear its recurrence, but it means nothing in the scheme of setting up Geo-political currents. Perhaps a comparison to the nuclear bombing of Japan is in poor taste to some, as the Americans did nothing to deserve their collective fate- but civilians are civilians. The supposed reasons for bombing Japan was the doctrine of fighting to the last man, but the reality was that it set the currents of the Geo-political stage for decades to come. It never had to be civilian targets, just like it never had to be 9/11, as we know it.
We have been in non-stop war with a vague force known officially as “Terrorism” for as long as almost an entire generation has been alive. America’s first official drone strike was against a random man in Yemen on the basis of having a similar height to Osama bin Laden.
Consider terror, consider the origins of the word “terrorism.” Know that a government can spread terror just as well as unseen actors, and know that we rain death from the sky half a world away, hardly even in the name of our usual vague ideals. It was like a cheap action movie revenge plot, except the self proclaimed. 80s style action hero protagonist was a Nation instead of a plucky sociopath. And now what’s the reason? Global stability? Selective instability? There’s no answer anymore, so it defaults back to “preserving freedom.”
So many innovations and changes have come from this conflict. Torture is supposedly out. Drones mean probably less PTSD all around. Veterans of the current conflict (which has gone on long enough for there to be 14 year long vets of) are treated better than Vietnam vets. The death toll for active soldiers hovers around seven thousand, despite being vastly longer than American involvement in any war of the 20th century. War is humane now.
Or something like it.
War is efficient now. The project started with Vietnam, or arguably Korea, of perpetual conflict as little more than another facet of the American Rhetorical struggle of its Two-Party system has reached its peak perfection. We are at war, and we are not. There is an enemy, but there is no condition of victory. There is fury, but there is no justice. There are rules of engagement, but no means of surrender.
The war, a literal incessant armed conflict, has become another gun debate, another Roe V Wade. Another one of those issues that rears up from time to time and then gets slapped down with no conclusion.
For these reasons, I refuse to — I have no ability to — imagine what the point of all this could be, beyond making a few people rich and creating the means by which a shaky republic can offer some awkward shred of unity, in lieu of ever admitting to a sense of Nationalism. In some disgusting way, perhaps this war truly is the lesser of two evils if it keeps “patriot” as the proper term, what with its illusion of positive assimilation.
I would not term this as a challenge, but a plea: Someone with faith in this war and what America is doing, please explain what victory looks like. Please explain the more grounded goals of this conflict, because I literally have no idea what that would be.