September 11: ‘Never Forget’ or ‘Forgive and Move On’?

By ├ćndrew Rininsland

In recognition of the sixth anniversary of 9/11, two Gauntlet writers looked back on the tragedy and discuss their opinions on how to proceed from here. Lauren-lee Camp begins,

I grew up in southern Africa. For most of you it is a mysterious, desolate Kalahari filled with cruelty, starvation and struggle. Though I am of its desert and have lived through some of its strife, I still find it uncanny in its complexity.

I went to boarding school in Petermaritzburg, a dangerous neck of the woods for any young lady. Rape was rampant, and I knew many who were plagued by this guerilla tactic to emotionally cripple the white social stamina.

There were girls in my school who would return after weekends at home only to be silent with no happy childhood shenanigans to report. Rather they would whimper about finding their fathers chopped up in laundry baskets, brothers hung from trees with barb wire or mothers molested.

In reaction to the turmoil that surrounded me, and because of my entrapment, I wished for America to save my country. They had, after all, made a name for themselves when it came to getting involved in social and political messes. My grade school history classes depicted the American military as having a no-shit-taking policy, and I really liked that about them.

I know the situation in the Middle East is very different to the struggle for a Rainbow Southern Africa, but the pain endured during political turmoil is parallel.

I often find myself wondering how many children in the Middle East lie awake at night and wish for Big Bad America to throw them a bone.

Some families are fortunate enough to leave and find solace in the West.

On Sunday, I found my immigrant father watching United 93. He was crying–he never cries–because he was terrified that people in the West aren’t afraid.

He was distressed that some of the American families destroyed on that day six years ago are pointing fingers only within their borders for the deaths of their kin instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with their countrymen to protect their birth-given rights and freedoms like Americans used to.

Should we stop being afraid? If we don’t fight, the Taliban will be redundant until we have no rights and freedoms to speak of.

What happened to the West? My history books share stories of valiancy and of people who fought to protect their home or avenge wrongdoings done unto their country.

Not remembering 9/11 is like slapping every young man in the face who died during World War I or II. By not remembering the pain we hold complete disregard for all the rights and freedoms our forefathers have fought for.

├ćndrew Rininsland rebuts,

Tuesday marked the 6th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and predictably, the American media is going on their yearly week-long spree of jingoism and shallow introspection. Can we get over it already and resign “9/11” to the semi-significant historical event that it is?

This isn’t exactly a popular opinion, especially apropos of the historical significance of the event. In relation to the Iraq war it is often compared to the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, which sparked the First World War. But this would be a bit hasty as, really, 9/11 had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, other than change George W. Bush from a boring, lame-duck president into a psychotic blood-thirsty war-monger. Or rather, it enabled his neoconservative handlers to channel the fear of the American population into support for an unnecessary war with no motive other than profit.

Whoa there, Nelly! I probably just wrote every single leftist piece of thought relevant to the last half-decade in a single paragraph, falling just short of conspiracy theories claiming Bush himself was responsible for the tragedy. Really, all I’m trying to say is that September 11, 2001 isn’t the universal zeitgeist everyone says it is.

Alone, 9/11 is fairly unspectacular. The total body count for the event is just shy of 3000, entirely unremarkable in a time of nuclear bombs and perpetual civil war in Africa. Contrary to the belief of the American population, people are perpetually dying around the planet in far greater numbers. Do we have vast memorial services every Dec. 26 to remember the almost 300,000 who died in Indonesia during the 2004 tsunami? Are these people any less valuable than Americans? Of course, the argument could be advanced that the deaths of 9/11 were caused by people and not by nature, however, do we have a yearly media event to remember the estimated 500,000 children indirectly killed by U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq pre-invasion? Not last time I checked. Nor is there a holiday for the estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed as a direct result of the invasion, but I digress.

Their continuing fascination with 9/11 demonstrates a sheer lack of global focus by the American media. That they continue their obsession with the event is unsurprising, however, their expectation that the rest of the world should continue to give a rat’s ass–especially after six years of untold atrocities by U.S. forces in the name of September 11– is unfounded and a definite indicator of how absolutely narcissistic and wrapped up in itself the world’s last empire currently is.

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