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Forget 9/11

Or, if you must, celebrate it on 5/2

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At Ground Zero this morning.(Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

I’ve been walking around with a funny feeling in my stomach. Each tinge of “We Remember” made me cringe. Each image of “Ten Years Later” made me irritable. It wasn’t until the weekend began, with its endless parade of pundits and canned, repetitive footage, that I felt free to admit it to myself: the tenth anniversary of 9/11 made me very angry.

As is often the case with inchoate rage, I needed my friends to help me focus. Thankfully, Todd Gitlin did. Having just returned from a visit to Serbia, he noted how that nation was still actively and passionately commemorating the Battle of Kosovo, in which the armies of the Turkish Sultan Murad I, despite heavy losses, subdued their opponents and turned many Serb principalities into Ottoman protectorates. That was in 1389.

Growing up in Israel, I saw this foul force at play on both ends of the conflict. My Palestinian friends were commemorating the Nakba—the establishment of the state of Israel—and my Israeli friends were traveling to Poland, eagerly visiting the fields where their ancestors were shot, gassed, burned, and buried. I joined one such delegation, and was appalled not so much by the ominous piles of shoes and the ghoulish photographs—I’d seen these before—but by the particularly potent combination of humiliation and nationalism. In the barracks of Auschwitz, many of my classmates were reborn: They wrapped themselves in Israeli flags, spoke a bit too loudly to every Polish bystander, sang “Hatikvah” until they were hoarse, and vowed to join the army’s most elite units. In their young and impressionable tongues, “Never Again” sounded like, “Again, but with us winning this time.” Which is no different from the defiant annual demonstrations on Nakba Day.

And now, a defeat of America’s own. Those who lost loved ones, of course, will never forget that day, nor would any of us who were here that morning. Let survivors and New Yorkers continue to mark the day in a communal, painful, and deeply personal way, alone and together. But collectively, nationally, for our own good, let us forget all about it. No more ceremonies, no more anniversaries, no more solemn newscasters retelling, like in a dream, the moment of terror and defeat.

If we have to commemorate 9/11, let us do so on 5/2, the day our cheerful emissaries dispatched Osama Bin Laden to another state of being. Let us celebrate each May the Second; we can chant “U.S.A!,” bump fists, listen to loud rock music. It’ll be a joyful occasion. And oddly, for all of its bravado and machismo, such a celebration is much less likely to lead to catastrophe. The strange, inverted logic of tragedy’s aftermath dictates that commemorating defeat usually leads to revenge and violence, while celebrating victory usually involves barbecues and fifteen percent off at the mall. We must choose the latter. Otherwise, really, the terrorists win.

Speechless in the Face of Massacre [Chronicle of Higher Education Brainstorm]

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Barbara says:

It is possible we as a nation don’t quite know how to deal with Sept. 11th. Just like many Jewish communities still don’t know how to honor those who perished in the Holocaust by doing something on Yom Hashoah. One can choose to watch the television programs on Sept. 11th of each year or not. If one is touched by the event, one will choose to commemorate it in a way that is suitable for that individual. A person who lost someone that horrible day will forever be touched even if he or she “moves on”. Hopefully, we can appreciate each day that is given to us.

So if I understand you, you are saying that the Nabka, when Palestinians commemorate their refusal to accept a state and their failure to commit genocide on the Jews is the same as a journey to Poland where Jews mourn their innocent dead and vow to never let it happen again.

Verificationist says:

Oh, relax, Carl!

I personally found the celebrating on 5/2 offensive. I suppose it was the mob mentality of the whole thing. And the bloodlust too. And you don’t suppose that leads to violence at all?

I think it’s more psychologically harmful to have a “Happy anniversary of Bin Laden’s death” day, then the other way around as you have proposed.

Maybe your article should have been about why you were so angry in the first place. You might learn something about yourself, and then you can understand other people and go and make suggestions as audacious as to how an entire nation should memorialize September 11th.

This is probably going to offend you;
You write with the attitude of a 23-old female. I could be way off on that assumption, but I’d put money on it.

“Again, but with us winning this time.” You mean that Israelis join the army to perpetrate Holocaust on Palestinians? Is there any spawn of Leibovitz who doesn’t hate his own people?

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Forget 9/11

Or, if you must, celebrate it on 5/2

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