© 2016 Giant Baba, used under a creative commons license.
20 years, it’ll be on Saturday. I’ve written about living in New York that day, and after; and about the anniversaries, like the 10th (“At Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, for example, John Nolte informed us that ‘9/11 Only Paused the Left’s Attack on America’”) and the 19th, last year (“’Inside Joe Biden’s history of falsely claiming he predicted 9/11 attacks,’ headlines the New York Post”).
And I have a lot of stuff in the vault about the insanity of the early post-9/11 years — the wall-to-wall war mania, the maudlin tributes, the frantic flag-waving, the tearful truculence — and how it kicked off the unthinking invasion of Afghanistan and the calculated war crime of Iraq. There were the fantasies of Reagan apparatchik Peggy Noonan (“A few weeks ago I wrote a column called ‘God Is Back,’… the face of the Evil One seemed to emerge with a roar from the furnace that was Tower One….”), James Lileks with his fantasies of New York being destroyed (“I’m not sure New York will be there in ten years. I think it will be nuked… I’m not sure it will happen. I’d just be surprised if it didn’t, that’s all”), Andrew Fifth Column Sullivan, etc.
And they kept it going for years! Fans of the Alan Bromley school of then-I-sez-to-him-I-sez stories may remember Bromley in 2005 yelling (he claimed) at an “Arab fellow named Muhammed” who (he claimed) was talking 9/11 conspiracy theories in his deli:
I escalated the argument: “And when will you accept your own failings for aiding and not confronting terrorism, instead of pushing for some sort of freedom within your homelands? When will you accept that fact that your people, with a somewhat glorious history of achievement, haven’t moved forward for hundreds of years, after your losing efforts to conquer Europe? Yet you’re here on 26th Street, making a decent living in the United States for your family, making a profit on my bagel, which you’re entitled to.”
As I said at the time, “This is published in [the Wall Street Journal’s] OpinionJournal, where the common response is not going to be Who the fuck talks like that? but That's telling him!” That same year, the New York Post snarled that the planned World Trade Center memorial shouldn’t include art galleries as planned because a recent Brooklyn Museum show proved artists aren’t patriots:
What if, some years from now, a latter-day Andres Serrano turns up at the Drawing Center's new home at Ground Zero, with an American flag submerged in a tub of urine — calling it, say, “Piss Flag”? Or with an image of the Twin Towers covered in cow manure?
And now on the 20th, wingnuts are ginning up outrage over Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan — an occupation no one believed in, but which a lot of Americans are mad that we stopped. “From George Bush’s 9/11 to Joe Biden’s,” blubbers… Karl Rove. (“This cynical mindset doesn’t diminish the extraordinary accomplishment of those who removed the Taliban from power and kept us safe” — you know, I really ought to set up a punching bag in the basement.)
I don’t have much to say about 9/11 this year. My visceral memories of the terror and chaos of that time are finally fading and I’m glad of it. But I’m still angry. Noonan has a nineeleven column called “A Day of Grief and Human Glory” and I looked at it but I couldn’t read it through my hot rage; I perceived bits like “We experienced 9/11 as a spiritual event. We saw an old-fashioned kind of masculinity come back,” and I could only think: You stupid fucking witch, do you still think you can get away with this? Do you think anyone who isn’t as old and drunk as you — hell, not even a lot of us who are as old and drunk as you! — will fall for this incantation? Do you not see the world around you? We’re having a 9/11 every two days. You really think the people fighting to live through this shit care about your Satan and John Wayne fantasies? Fuck all the way off and take Karl Rove with you.
God bless you if you have dead to mourn. But I’m done with 9/11. I don’t want to invade any more foreign countries to make some yahoos feel good and some billionaires richer. I just want this country back from the people who manipulated all that violence and heartbreak to make it this way.