In the terrible terrorist attacks of September 11, thousands of our fellow citizens were buried under the rubble. The rest of us have been buried under the rubble of words that followed. It is hard to criticize such words; all of us utter trivial platitudes in moments when events simply exceed our capacity for reflection and insight.
Next to the minaret of Milwaukee’s Islamic Society a new sign appeared after the horrific events of September 11: “Our Hearts and Prayers Are with the Victims and Their Families.” That message was emphasized at the mosque’s prayer service on September 14, the national day of remembrance for all those who have suffered as a result of September 11’s terrorist attacks
For a couple of hours on September 11 I, along with a lot of other people in southern Manhattan, had to face the real possibility of sudden and violent death as buildings collapsed and the streets filled with choking dust, fumes and falling debris.
Since bursting onto the national scene in 1989 with his celebrated documentary Roger & Me, Michael Moore has gone from being that goofy overweight filmmaker in tennis shoes and a baseball cap to being the resolute voice of the common American. His battles with the powers-that-be have cast him as a modern-day Frank Capra.
Anniversaries of traumatic events carry an emotional power. A clinical psychiatrist I know says that remembering and even reliving such traumas, as painful as that is, can be an important part of healing. We mark the anniversary of September 11 in this issue with a series of reflections and remembrances.
Many Americans have become born-again believers in patriotism since September 11, some to their own surprise. Writing the “My Turn” column in Newsweek, for instance, 20-something Rachel Newman confessed that before 9/11 she and her girlfriend had been talking about moving to another country because of the perceived inequalities in the U.S.
For several months Congress had been calling for President Bush to coordinate the work of security-oriented agencies spread throughout the executive branch. The president, who retains a 75 percent approval rating, resisted such a move.
The U.S. war against terrorism since September 11 has obscured a longstanding yet growing set of dysfunctional relationships between this nation and most other nations. The U.S. has become disconnected from the interests and perspectives of other nations on every continent due to its isolationism, lack of cooperation, and unilateral actions.