Paul Krugman drew a lot of heat for his 9-11 blog post in which he stated that 9-11 is a moment of shame for this country. Despite what his detractors have said (and they are not ALL on the right) he is correct. I am now 27 years old and have a vivid memory of 9-11. But what stuck with me more was seeing how it affected and infected the people around me. Even as a junior in high school, who at the time could not quite grasp the global significance of the event or the ramifications it had, I knew that something was not right.
9-11 occurred back when I was still talking to my father, near the end of our relationship. Up until that time, he had never mentioned his politics much and I had never heard him utter a ‘patriotic’ word. After 9-11 I remember him stoping at a gas station on our way to his home on one of the weekends that he had me. He must have bought 50$ worth of American flag stickers, mini flags to hang on your car, and the like. And I remember very vividly being disgusted with him; it took something this horrible for him to decide he wanted to look like Mr. America. He was going to try and win that race to the bottom to show that how much you loved your country was determined by how well you looked the part. I remember asking him why did he choose now to purchase these items? “We have to show our solidarity with everyone else in America”. I was unsure of how jumping on the I love America bandwagon was showing solidarity.
In the months and years that followed things began to get worse. I watched people sell ridiculous memorabilia ‘commemorating” 9-11. It was quite apparent to me even then that people were taking advantage of the situation to make a quick buck. The combination of credulous patriotism along with the capitalistic drive to make money almost any way you can had a deep impact on me (and would help shape many of my later views and opinions). I watched as the other kids in my school cafeteria cheered gleefully that we had changed the name of French Fries to Freedom Fries; because to like the cowardly French was tantamount to being a traitor. Of course they had no idea why the French did not support our invasion of Iraq on false pretenses; all they heard was our country had been attacked and someone had to pay for it and you were either with us or against us. The Bush administration used a horrific event to political gain, swaying the opinions of people like my father to abandon reason and questioning and simply support the United States no matter what.
Well I agree with Paul Krugman; it is shameful. The 10 years that have passed have shown the true nature of many people in this country. They saw 9-11 not as something horrific but as an opportunity. They saw it as a chance to ‘out american’ the people around them by buying as much crap with an American flag on it as they can without really understanding why they are doing it. Or they saw it as a chance to pass an agenda to settle old scores and push a foreign policy that will have huge blowback consequences in the future. I agree that it is shameful; and I agree with him that deep down, everyone knows it.