Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On the anniversary of 9/11

On the anniversary of 9/11

For me, 9/11 will always be a time of tremendous fear, stifling conformism, forced patriotism, and vicious nationalism. Which is why I’ve always found the claim that Trump represents a new authoritarianism, even fascism, to be so fanciful and false. There was a moment in the recent memory of this country when dissent really was stifled ... [W]hen intellectuals and journalists and academics dutifully—and shamefully—performed their parts in the Gleichschaltung of the moment, instructing the unreconstructed among us to understand that we were living in a new age when all the old truths no longer held. Thankfully, the intensity of that moment didn’t last too long—the fiasco in Iraq did it in—though we’re still living with its consequences today. But, yeah, when I hear about the unprecedented authoritarianism of Trump, I think to myself: either you weren’t around after 9/11 or you were part of the problem. -- Corey Robin

My kids -- 6th graders -- learned a little bit about the September 11, 2001 attacks again yesterday. Some of their teachers lost family and friends at the World Trade Center. They were moved to tears by the accounts they heard. They've learned a little bit about 9/11 each of the last couple years at school. Which, is OK ... here comes the "but," but they don't learn nearly enough and I'm afraid they're getting entirely the wrong lesson out of what they are taught.

I remember where I was. I, too, will #NeverForget. (Here it comes again ...) But, I know that 9/11 is also the anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973. Even though I don't remember where I was that day -- I was, after all, only 2 years old -- in terms of what it means to be American, to understanding our place in the world and how things got to be the way they are, knowing about Allende is, at the very least, as important as paying tribute to the victims of the 2001 attack on us. Yet, I doubt many 6th graders have ever heard about Allende at school, or have a good understanding how the memory of the victims of the 2001 attacks is used to justify 16 years and counting of war on Afghanistan, how it whitewashes what we've been doing in Iraq and around the Middle East since. Never mind what the self-proclaimed "leader of the free world" had been doing in the Middle East prior. Have they heard the phrase "they hate our freedoms" yet? I don't know, but the thought they probably have is chilling. Chilling, because I know they haven't been taught that our wealthy elites are the ones who demonstrably hate our freedoms and exercise the power to do something about it. And, just as importantly, American oligarchs, like their Russian confrères, hate the freedoms of anyone in the world that stands in the way of their ability to maximize profit.

Allende supporters. Image via Wikipedia.

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