Well, there’s not much chance any of us remotely subscribed to any kind of media could possibly forget, with the relentless 9/11-milking all around. The revolting shamelessness with which unaffected people are trying to yank the 9/11 limelight on themselves is probably only rivalled by the appalling self-absorption of those who see the murderous event exclusively as a tool of personal revelation or epiphany. Both types are rife with accounts like:
“I was waiting at the supermarket check-out when the news flashed on the TV overhead and I just couldn’t believe it. New York was a few thousand kilometres away but it seemed so very close! I couldn’t believe this was happening in America. And I knew in my heart the world would never be the same again.
That evening I finally popped the question to the person I had been seeing for a year. We were married in one month, and our son/daughter turns 9 this November — our personal 9/11. I know many people died that day, but personally, I am very grateful to 9/11 for finally making me realise what the important things in life are”.
I annoys me immensely when I feel both contemptuous, and ashamed of it, at the same time — it’s a very unsettling feeling — but despite feeling reasonably ashamed of my insensitivity to people’s personal milestones, I can’t stem a blistering contempt for this gossipy, populist, lookit-me! trend of ‘commemorating’ terrorist attacks, which substitutes analysing the horrifying results of the attack for preening in front of a metaphysical mirror.
I’m amazed how few of the ‘commemorators’ speak about the brazen ingratitude tossed at people who voluntarily helped at ground zero. How the entire nation allowed itself to be duped by the smokescreen of 9/11 to sponsor profiteering US terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. How they tossed many veterans to the rubbish heap after ruining their chances at a normal life. And how, after being bled dry and kicked in the face by vastly enriched political cliques, the average citizen is now being left out to graze, like the old horse Dobbin. In short, while the abstract and intangible construct of USA, the nation, is being flooded by sympathy and sombre good wishes, the actual, tangible, and painfully real Americans — betrayed by their own government — are being ruthlessly eliminated from the narrative.
As the resident of a third-world country from a region the US has considerable interest in, I’m also bemused and frightened that no one with a political voice has called the US a terrorist state — which is what it now is — in the last ten years. Tomorrow, my city might be swamped with foreigners kitted out to rape, torture and kill at will, simply because an associate of an elected member of the US admin. has calculated the financial benefits of dismantling sovereignty and democracy in India, under the guise of defending it. It is, I think, a great victory of US cultural imperialism that most people the world over are identifying, and therefore commiserating, with the US — I notice no outpourings of grief for the 1,690,903 dead Iraqis and 48,644 dead Afghans — instead of biting their fingernails and wondering if their country will be next on its acquisition list.
I must also admit, with a strong undercurrent of shame and stern disapproval of myself, that I feel the US is the equivalent of the tantrum-prone privileged problem child in the kindergarten of life, whose every little scratch gets a surplus of attention. It’s not that I grudge Americans their higher degree of insularity from violence. Indeed, I hope their tribe increases. If I never heard a hand-bomb going off in the next neighbourhood, it will be too soon. But in a morbid and juvenile way, I feel shortchanged that the US commands such prolonged and continued sympathy from one attack and decade back, plus a free pass to for-profit terrorism, when all India gets for its rich history of terrorist attacks* is smug advice about practising restraint. From the US. It’s terribly unfair**. And I disapprove of unfairness on principle.
*In the last decade, we have had 9 major bombings in and around Bombay, 4 in Delhi — one of them on the Parliament, 1 in Ayodhya, 2 in Varanasi, and six others in various parts of India (one of them in Bangalore). The latest blasts, a week back, was in Delhi, and targeted the Supreme Court of the country. Besides this, there have been several small bomb blasts and shoot-outs all over the country.
**To make up for it, I suggest the US switch to an unarmed foreign policy model straight away, stop encouraging the UK to continue its colonialist delusions, steal from its citizens only in legally actionable ways, elect convicted murderers to local governments, bury itself in bureaucracy, and in general, preserve democracy and freedom the Indian way from now onwards. It’s colourful, entertaining, and if you discount the frustration of getting nothing done in time, so much more relaxing.