The Virgin Ben (law student, violinist, celibate, chickenhawk…that Virgin Ben) thinks that America needs to suck it up and see movies about 9/11 and terrorism because, well, you can go almost a week without the major networks running a news special called “Wow! 9/11 Sucked, Didn’t It?” or “Iraq: The War Nobody Knows About“.
Is it too soon? It may be too late. Since Sept. 11, the press has buried all photos and video of the horrific attacks. Five years later, the War on Terror is at low ebb, with the latest Gallup poll showing Americans are more worried about health care than about terrorism. Only 39 percent of self-labeled independents consider terrorism a major worry, along with 47 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. It is no wonder that President Bush’s support base for the War on Terror has declined dramatically over the last few years — Americans, encouraged by the media’s silence, are simply complacent about terrorism.
We can’t have it both ways. If terrorism is a major worry, we ought to confront the problem. If it isn’t, there’s no harm in reminding Americans that the threat still exists, that proof of the seriousness of the threat can be found in a giant crater in the center of New York City, as well as a large hole in a Pennsylvania field and a newly-restored section of the Pentagon.
Let me shorten that: You should be scared shitless of terrorism, and if you aren’t, it is someone’s job to scare the crap out of you. You’ll thank me later.
For too long, Hollywood has been silent, and Americans, attempting to slip back into a pre-Sept. 11 reverie, have accepted that silence with gratitude. Sept. 11 was a painful wound, but that is no excuse for forgetting it. Those for whom Sept. 11 was most painful — family members of those who died in Flight 93, for example — have unanimously supported the picture. Carole O’Hare, whose mother died aboard Flight 93, told Time why she supported the filmmakers: “This story has to be told to honor the passengers and crew for what they did â€¦ But more than that, it raises awareness. Our ports aren’t secure. Our borders aren’t secure. Our airlines still aren’t secure, and this is what happens when you’re not secure. That’s the message I want people to hear.”
At this point we would expect VBen to point out that it is a Republican President, a Republican Senate, and Republican House of Representatives who should called on the carpet for not making us secure…but Ben wants to land a Conservative think tank job when he graduates and that kind of crazy talk will only land you Alan Colmes’ job and, let’s face it, fellating Sean Hannity nightly is no way to lose one’s cherry.
Since Sept. 11, by contrast, TV news channels specifically dedicated to explaining current events have stopped showing the Sept. 11 footage. We’re told that the news media censors such horrible pictures out of sensitivity to the families of the victims. At the same time, the media pleads for more pictures of body bags coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Okay. This one is easy. You see, the “TV news channels specifically dedicated to explaining current events” are interested in “current events”. 9/11/2001 is so …2001. But body bags from Afghanistan and Iraq are very today, very “now” if you’re one of those sticklers who uses a dayplanner or owns a watch.
It is about time Americans were reacquainted with the cost of complacence. It is about time Americans were shown the face of our enemy — it is time we were reminded what they fight for, so clearly visible in the burning towers, the plummeting bodies and the exploding airplanes of Sept. 11. Accurate depictions of the bravery and evil that we saw on Sept. 11 are necessary
And maybe, just maybe, Americans will wake up to threat of terrorism and will rush out to their local recruiters and enlist in the Army or the Marines.
Or Harvard Law. Whatever…