I remember the day of the WTC attacks. I was at the doctor's office in Yardley, a small town where (unbeknownest to me then) many of the 9/11 pilots and crew lived. The receptionist had the radio on when I walked in. "A plane hit the World Trade Center," she told me.
"That's crazy," I said. "That tower's awfully hard to miss." Like most people, I assumed it was a small plane out of control.
A few minutes later, we heard the announcer describe another plane hitting the tower, and that was when we knew it was no accident.
Driving home was eerily quiet; I-95 was empty, except for one lone state trooper. I remember walking into my apartment, turning on the the teevee and watching them playing the footage, over and over and over again. My son said to me, “Turn it off, it’s war pornography.”
“You’re right,” I said. I turned it off. And the inevitable drumbeat for war began.
Of course I remember. Everyone remembers. I don't need constant reminders; I'm reminded every single time I get on a plane.
9/11 is the bloody shirt of the bipartisan War Party, and boy, do they love to wave it. The fact is, terror attacks are not unusual in most parts of the world. It’s just that America Is Special, and our deaths are always more important than everyone else’s. (When I worked at a newspaper, we used to joke about tragedy headlines: Plane Explodes Mid-Air, Tragically Killing 2 Americans, 239 Others.)
The appropriate way to honor the people who died on 9/11 is… to go on with your own life. And don’t turn on your teevee! Just don’t. Please. Don’t encourage them in pushing the myth of American exceptionalism, or the need to live your life as if we’re in the cross hairs, even if we are. (In fact, especially if we are.)
And I will feel exactly the same if – when – terrorists attack us again. I think they will. Working yourself into a paranoid frenzy in the meantime won’t change anything. And destroying our personal liberties and our way of life means that bin Laden is the one who really gets to say "Mission accomplished!"