The lessons of 9/11?by Theodore Hamm
It goes without saying that 9/11 was the worst day in the history of our city. It should go without saying that mass tragedies are not to be treated as golden opportunities for political gain. But the Bush gang is not one to pass up a chance to strike gold. Bush and the Neo-Cons used 9/11 as the reason for starting a war that they had been plotting since the late 1990s, and various opinion polls continue to show that a majority of Americans—and an even higher ratio of U.S. soldiers—erroneously believe that Iraq was somehow involved in the World Trade Center attacks. Our city has managed to recover in five years since the twin towers fell, but in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, there’s no end to the chaos and destruction in sight.
All of us who lived here in New York City during 9/11 will never forget the horror of that day. No matter where you went, you couldn’t escape the smoke or the stench of burnt metal and death emanating from Ground Zero. I haven’t been to Baghdad, but from all accounts, the landscape is filled with similarly terrible, or terribly similar, places. It’s a city where even many Iraqi soldiers dare not tread. Yet while mosques and markets detonate, the Green Zone is a big frat party. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
How is the madness in Iraq going to end? The Bush gang seems not to care. Joe Lieberman—warmly embraced by Mayor Bloomberg, and by Newark Mayor Cory Booker—has no qualms about continuing the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Many actual Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, don’t seem to mind, either. How many of the billions of dollars spent on the war could be fighting poverty in the U.S., or rebuilding post-Katrina New Orleans? Or channeled towards a Marshall Plan for the Middle East? I’m not sure who has the answers to such questions, because no one in power is even asking them. But of this much I am certain: I do not wish to visit the horrors in any way similar to those we experienced on 9/11 on any city or people in the world.
Now, some much happier notes. We are pleased to announce the publication of The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology (Hanging Loose Press), a reflection of the stellar editorship of our fiction god, Donald Breckenridge. Come celebrate with us at Supreme Trading in Williamsburg on Thursday, Sept. 21st (for details, see the ad in this issue’s fiction section). And by all means take note of the all-star lineup (listed on the back cover of this issue) for our art auction on October 2nd at James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea. And check out our 9/11 reading and town hall as well as our next “Rant Rhapsody” evening (Sept. 24) at the Bowery Poetry Club (see p. 3). So much to celebrate this month, indeed—and I didn’t even include my 40th birthday….but on behalf of us, we send our belated wishes to Dr. Lilian Milgram Schapiro on her 104th Birthday.