I’ve tried to stay out of the 9/11 hoopla, for the most part. But over a week later the onslaught continues, most of it watering down the truth. Time to correct a certain misconception.
The recent 9/11 memorials had me pondering the subject of real heroes. As the days passed by I noticed the lower screen of my TV continued to list “heroes:” a list which included everyone who died on 9/11.
Do we know what each and every one of these “heroes” actually did on that day? Were they heroes? Did they contribute to the madness, the fear, the hatred, the desire to jump first and attempt to escape never? This is no actual beat down of any specific person who jumped. Given the option of burning to death: living for a brief while in a literal smoke filled Hell, or living briefly while flying free, plummeting to the ground, I might have taken a leap of fate too.
No, it’s just a fact that intrudes on all this reverie: so many died; most of those who knew how others acted on that day. So many that I doubt we will never know how a vast group of lost souls behaved. To call them “heroes” is a leap of logic off of a poorly built house; a rhetorical structure that has been building, and burning, since 9/11. And we do know who keeps throwing gas on the fire for partisan purposes… Right?
With every toss I hear more screams.
So who are the heroes of 9/11? There are so many, and I’ve noticed a partisan skew away from mentioning some who are so damn inconvenient to the Right. I’ll give four examples, but I would love if readers continue the meme’ and, like those disciples thousands of years ago, continue the good work.
Rick Rescorla, who was concerned with safety of the towers long before 9/11 and refused to follow obvious bad advice to “stay put” and continued to lead people out of the building until he and his fellow rescuers perished.
Firemen and women. You know: those some self proclaimed “patriots” now dis and want to cut benefits on. Perhaps they’d like to claim it was the filthy rich who actually saved everyone on 9/11 due to tax breaks? The same tax breaks that haven’t had them creating jobs all these years?
I know some might claim the firemen and women were “just” doing their jobs, but it was far more than that. There’s something to say about those who stay on the job even when doing that job becomes so impossible it risks your life. Saving one more life was more important to them.
John P. O’Neill: he left the FBI because the threat to the towers wasn’t being taken seriously. A serious smear campaign was used against him when thieves stole a suitcase containing information on terrorism and counter-terrorism. The case was recovered with the documents untouched and the consensus was it was common thieves who had been stealing a lot of items in the area lately and had no idea regarding, or use for, what they had snatched.
Only in America controlled by a whacked out, fringe, right wing minority do the thieves get a pass and the victim gets the blame.
I mention O’Neill because he not only died saving people on 9/11, but he annoyed everyone by his “obsession” with the fact they’ll “try to finish the job” they started in the early 90s with the first attempt.
To quote Mr. O’Neil, long before 9/11…
“To understand what is now happening you have to look at the mujihadeen. They defeated the largest army on earth. Do you know what that did for them? It injected them with a feeling of invincibility. They had become the best trained fighting force on earth, thanks in part to us.”
I’ve also noticed there’s a Wiki war going on with right wingers attempting to edit out positive info on O’Neill, enough of a reason for me to list John.
That brings up my last, but not least, example of real heroes. He was a member of the small group of men who ganged up on the hijackers over Pennsylvania, and I mention him as a direct poke in the eye of the Right. 9/11 specials, especially those done by FOX, skip over him, or mention him briefly at best. Of the four he was as important, or more. Certainly more important than Ted Olson’s wife, Barbara, who as far as we know did nothing other than talk to her husband on a cell phone until her plane crashed. First calls while flying high and fast. Highly unlikely. Or from the onboard phone that many question whether she’d even have access to.
I honestly am not attempting to slander Ms. Olson. I am pointing out that in such moments stories often get mixed up, confused. But the story of Mark Bingham is clear. A clearly Gay man who absolutely joined with others to prevent flight 93 from continuing on its murderous path, stormed the cockpit. They had to know, no matter what the result, death was the most likely period put at the end of this part of the 9/11 story.
His story, combined with those of the others who varied from very Christian to “other,” could be an allegory about how we can all work together despite our personal differences. That’s why it bothers me so much that Mark keeps getting ejected from the story, like Gay translators did because the “war on terrorism” has been a mere cover for a “war on any group that displeases the radical Right” damn near since the phrase was puked out of Bush’s mouth. Proving the war on Gay was far more important than keeping America safe. Like the war to bash all not Christian, especially peaceful Muslims. One can no more blame 9/11 on Islam in general anymore than one can blame all of Christianity for those who bomb clinics, murder medical personnel or walk into a UU Church in Knoxville and slaughter parishioners.
9/11 could truly have been a unifying event. Instead the extreme elements on the Right are all too eager to use it to fuel hatred of anyone who dares to disagree with them.
The heroism of those who join together despite their differences, who become warning bells of an obvious danger then stayed to help, and those who faced the flames rather than back off, are right in the face of those who hate America and our values. This has always been a land of differences: always struggling to be more fair, more inclusive and less fueled by hate.
Abe Lincoln may have said more than he realized when he spoke of “a house divided cannot stand.” Those who want to water down the stories of the Mark Binghams, the O’Neills by listing everyone who died on 9/11 as a “hero,” the same cretins who want to cruelly cut the economic feet under the firemen and women who walked bravely into the flames on 9/11, are the same who claim 9/11 as their own, for purely partisan purposes.
On 9/11 extremist flew planes into the towers, into the Pentagon and into the soil of Pennsylvania.
From 9/11 on extremists have been flying that event into America over and over again: using the event in an attempt to force the rest of America to agree to their demands.
In the end, there’s not a hell of a lot of difference between the two.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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