Sept. 11 Party a Travesty
By Joshua Huck, University of Texas at Austin, August 11, 2005
Checking the news this morning, I happened to read an article which raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Incensed and incredulous, I scanned each line with steadily rising disgust. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and poking myself with a fork I had handy, I thought, “surely this is a joke.”
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
In a scene that seems to have been taken directly out of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s political satire “Team America,” The New York Daily News reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a rather surprising announcement on Tuesday. To “commemorate” the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon is planning both a country music concert on the National Mall featuring Clint Black and an “America Supports You Freedom Walk.”
Clint Black, as Salon.com notes, is the voice behind the jingoistic “I Raq and Roll,” a song that connects Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11, tucked in between couplets of jingoistic chest-beating.
Intended to boost support for America’s troops in Iraq (and transparently enough, the Bush administration’s unpopular policies), the planned festivities should instead boost America’s anger against a blatant attempt to manipulate our opinions through our emotions. In order to reinforce the false, but aggravatingly popular belief that Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War are somehow linked to that morning in September, the Bush administration is exploiting both the tragedy of thousands of innocent deaths here at home, and our country’s capacity to empathize with our fallen comrades abroad.
Because Bush and company have repeatedly failed to justify our massive intervention in the Middle East, and refused to acknowledge our current problems in that region and lack of preparation going in, we must be subjected to this vicious propaganda.
Some relatives of Sept. 11 victims have already sounded off on this travesty, relaying their outrage on behalf of the memories of their departed loved ones. Iraq War veterans have expressed their anger to the press upon hearing of the Pentagon’s ill-conceived Sept. 11 birthday party.
As far as I’m concerned, Rumsfield’s anniversary bash is no different than the weasels that took advantage of Sept. 11 to hawk their emotionally exploitative memorabilia to make a quick buck off a national tragedy. Whether behind a podium in Virginia or on a street corner across from Ground Zero, this is an egregious and unforgivable offense to the heart and soul of our nation.
Are our leaders so detached and deluded to think that this will stand with the average American? Maybe, due to national trauma or ennui, our nation can be swept along in ignorance and led to comfortably believe what will keep us stable and happy.
At some point, however, we have to wake up to the smoke in the room and ring the fire alarm. The propagation of misinformation under the guise of patriotism and homage should be catalyst enough.
Our troops deserve our unfaltering respect and support. Sept. 11 is a sacred area of our national psyche that, like a burial ground, should be regarded with the utmost reverence and not trod upon by political opportunists.
I’d like to suggest alternative event. Perhaps a candlelight vigil on the National Mall, a brief address by President Bush (hold the politics, please) and a national moment of prolonged silence. If you really want to support the troops, join an adopt-a-soldier network and comfort our boys with something tangible. A yellow ribbon bumper sticker the size of a Clint Black concert can’t hold a candle to a batch of cookies, some fresh socks and an encouraging note from a complete stranger.
For the good of the country, anything but Rumsfield and the Pentagon’s Orwell-in-a-cowboy-hat Sept. 11 tailgate party.
Huck is an anthropology junior.