There’s No Excuse for Limiting 9/11 to Hero Worship

Are 9-11 Remembrance Festivals really latent Islamophobia picnics?

Those that serve only to indoctrinate – yes.

NintendoYou’ve got your 9-11 ceremonies and your 9-11 family fun runs, silent auctions, parades, Karaoke, walkathons, crafts for the kids, food, refreshments, and for some groups, even mock CSI investigations with clues, evidence, and presumably “perps.” (I wonder what they look like at a 9-11 festival.)

You can be outraged at my questioning this stuff, but you can’t be offended by my asking why these events rarely include educational opportunities to broaden our understanding of cultures other than our own. Yes-yes, I understand it was Western culture that took a hit that morning, but number one, ours wasn’t the only culture to be irreversibly affected, and number two, not every follower of Islam is hiding Boeing 747 wiring diagrams. So what’s the excuse? Where’s the booth that explains to young people what the Koran is, and who reads it?

Of Connecticut’s Wethersfield 9-11 memorial picnic, a Richard M. Keane Foundation spokesperson told a local paper, “It’s a nice family evening, and a time to remember in a positive way. It’s a looking-for-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of theme. I think it’s a great way for people to share the day and remember, but also enjoy their families.”

Absolutely. And familiar sentiments all –– the physical and emotional scars of 9-11 are indeed part of America’s social fabric. I’m just asking why it has to be limited to only those. Why can’t it also be used as a teaching tool (and an ounce of prevention)? Limiting these festivals to only “our side” and our understanding is dangerously restrictive in terms of dealing with those suspicious or distrustful of our way of life. Even from a tactical military standpoint, a soldier would question why we’re dismissing “the other guy.” Must hearts and minds always be won after America has put itself above those with whom it seeks to gain favor? Read more

Who’s at Fault when Insensitivity Is Learned Behavior?

Last week, Annie Karni reported for the New York Post that victims’ families feel tourists treat Manhattan’s 9/11 Memorial disrespectfully. It’s being leaned against and climbed on; kids are being perched atop its inscriptions by careless, camera-wielding parents; and gabby sightseers are posing for pictures while spilling their Starbucks. Anyone adding to the boisterous atmosphere is on the shit list. Given that far more respectful behavior can be found, for instance, at Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial, first responders and victims’ families may be onto something.

On the other hand, might not some of these complaints be an excuse for extending one’s grief or reaffirming one’s precious victimhood? Besides, when society encourages digital aggrandizement of one menial personal experience after the next – and thus contempt for everything outside of ourselves – who’s to blame when insensitivity becomes just another a learned behavior? 

I’m just saying, 9/11 Memorial site or not, the presence of loud, sloppy people who can’t distinguish between hallowed ground and Disney’s California Adventure shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, not even World Trade Center families. Read more