Something is happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear…if you’re a writer for the Wall Street Journal:
From the beginning, there were disagreements over how to memorialize victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. How to compensate the families. How and where to try the responsible parties.
But always, family members of Sept. 11 victims say, the anniversary of the attacks brought a moment of unity.
Not this year.
The plan to build an Islamic community center with a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero has heightened emotions and created discord. A Florida pastor’s threats to burn multiple copies of the Quran Saturday, since rescinded, has further inflamed tensions.
As the city and nation brace to remember the moment when two planes flew into the World Trade Center, one hit the Pentagon and one crashed in a Pennsylvania field, killing thousands of people, those most affected say they feel more isolated and frustrated than ever.
The article continues with comments from families of 9/11 victims, some opposed to the “Ground Zero Mosque,” some supporting, and a few who just want the whole controversy to go away, so they can remember, and grieve, in peace.
Nowhere in the article is any indication of what might have caused, and is continuing to exacerbate, the “controversy.” No mention of Newt Gingrich and his terror-porn movie, the release of which coincides with the 9th anniversary of the attacks, or any earlier examples of Newt’s ridiculously overheated rhetoric. No mention of Sarah Palin’s “refudiation” of the “mosque.” No mention of Charles Krauthammer, John Bolton, or the dozens of other conservatives and prominent Republicans who have helped to push the “controversy” and put it front and center, tying it in most cases to their “otherization” of Muslims and, by implication, President Obama. No mention of how the media has elevated obscure, batshit-insane bloggers like Pam “Atlas Juggs” Geller to the status of authoritative observer. It must just be something in the water, I guess.
The article mentions “Florida pastor” Terry Jones in passing, but says nothing about how this obscure head of a 50-member church in Florida became the biggest news story of the year, or at least the summer. And of course, no mention whatsoever in the Rupert-Murdoch-owned WSJ of how the Rupert Murdoch-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, FOX News, has played a major role in freaking out America about the Muslim Threat.
The best part of the article comes at the end, when we hear a voice of sanity:
In the years since the towers fell, the opinions of family members of the victims have been sought out on an ever-widening range of issues that go far beyond what to do with the place where their loved ones died.
That prompted Nikki Stern, who lost her husband in the attacks, to write a book examining the phenomenon, called “Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority.”
“I don’t think that losing someone on 9/11 or in any other place makes you a moral paradigm,” said Ms. Stern, who lives in Princeton, N.J.
And so, Ms. Stern said, she will honor her husband’s memory by going on a 16-mile bike ride, because biking is something her husband loved, something they loved to do together. “What I do is I pull it down and make it personal and private,” she said. “Nothing can touch that, because that’s mine. I own that, and that’s all I want to own. I don’t want to own arguments about community centers and conspiracy theories, or the best way to protect the United States. I want to own my ability to deal with this day.”
If only someone would listen. Instead, after nearly 9 years of relative sanity and unity, the right-wing trolls (aided and abetted by their corporate-media enablers) have come out of the woodwork in force to do that voodoo that they do so well, trying to scare the bejeebers out of everybody, and laying blame on the “dirty fucking hippies” that let 9/11 happen in the first place. As Atrios reminds us, they started not long after the event itself:
“These seem to be lonely days for the Birkenstock-and-beads set,” reported Newsweek magazine (10/1/01). It’s certainly true that anti-war activists, the apparent target of Newsweek’s disdain, might have felt lonely–if they were counting on visits from mainstream news reporters.
In place of consistent coverage of the peace movement, some pundits and columnists sounded the alarm about the threat to America from within. New Republic editor Peter Beinart (9/24/01) thought critics of administration plans should either keep quiet or explain their loyalties: “Domestic political dissent is immoral without a prior statement of national solidarity, a choosing of sides.”
New Republic columnist (and former editor) Andrew Sullivan had a more ominous warning (London Sunday Times, 9/16/01): “The middle part of the country–the great red zone that voted for Bush–is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead–and may well mount a fifth column.”
Washington Times columnist Robert Stacy McCain (9/27/01) was even more threatening, implying that military force should be used against anti-war protesters: “Why are we sending aircraft carriers halfway around the world to look for enemies, when our nation’s worst enemies–communists proclaiming an anti-American jihad–will be right there in front of the Washington Monument on Saturday?”
Right-wing provocateur David Horowitz (L.A. Times, 9/28/01) chided today’s student activists with this reminder: “The blood of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of Americans is on the hands of the antiwar activists who prolonged the struggle and gave victory to the communists.” Horowitz added that “this country was too tolerant toward the treason of its enemies within.”
At least one commentator blamed the left for the attacks themselves. Columnist Steven Schwartz (New York Post, 9/12/01) wrote that “the anti-globalist rioters seek to intimidate world capitalism into shutting down altogether, and the distance between breaking the windows of McDonald’s to achieve that end and blowing up the World Trade Center is pretty damned narrow.”
As election day approaches, expect things to get even worse. Stoking fear and resentment, blaming the “Other,” you’re either with us or against us – we’ve seen this movie before from the right. It’s the only strategy they have, and it is focus-group tested and approved. Remember November!