I felt a bit conflicted about writing this post. What you want to do is remember an awful crime. What you end up doing is invoking a Republican talking point. That is all that remains of the term "9/11." As Gary Kamiya correctly points out, 9/11 need hardly be remembered: The President won't stop bringing it up. "President Bush used the attacks to justify his 2003 invasion of Iraq," writes Kamiya. "And he has been using 9/11 ever since to scare Americans into supporting his 'war on terror.' He has incessantly linked the words 'al-Qaida' and 'Iraq,' a Pavlovian device to make us whimper with fear at the mere idea of withdrawing. In a recent speech about Iraq, he mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that jihadists in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S., or that their numbers and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated. It's no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus' 'anxiously awaited' evaluation of the war is to be given on the 10th and 11th of September."
9/11 has been robbed of its significance. It no longer lights up the neurons recalling an American tragedy, but instead activates that understand political strategy. I hate them for that. So this isn't a 9/11 remembrance. We've never been allowed to forget 9/11. Not for an instant. What we have been allowed to forget is 2,974 individuals who perished in that attack, who didn't die because they wanted to invade Iraq or because they thought Republicans were insufficiently competitive in elections, but because they were murdered. Remember them.
I remember talking to my father on 9/11, shell-shocked by what I had seen, but also worried by what I feared was coming. "I hope Saddam isn't behind this." That's what I said, because I knew that if he was, that if the atrocity were the doing of a country rather than a stateless terrorist organization, there was going to be a real war.
I guess I wasn't cynical enough, because it didn't occur to me that our government would use 9/11 to go to war with Saddam even if he had nothing to do with 9/11. I didn't realize that they would use 9/11 to stifle dissent. I didn't realize that six years later, Rudy Giuliani, who did nothing on 9/11 but run around aimlessly, would shamelessly attempt to cash in on it by mentioning it every ten seconds during a run for president. (President!)
Have they no decency?
I also didn't know that six years after 9/11, six years after discovering that it was Osama bin Laden and not Saddam Hussein who orchestrated the attacks, that the hijackers were overwhelmingly Saudi and not Iraqi, that one third of all Americans and 40% of all Republicans would believe that Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the 9/11 attacks. (NY Times/CBS poll.)
Let us remember this tragedy for what it was, but also for what it was not. Let us stop allowing politicians to manipulate its memory for personal and political gain.