2001-09-12, 2:01 a.m.

So they say America lost its innocence on S11…

I did not lose my innocence yesterday

I do not belong to that very elite slice of the world’s humanity who before yesterday felt that this could never happen to the people they love in the place they call home

I have felt this feeling and horror before, I know what it is to shake at your very core, shake like a leaf from the sense of powerlessness and horror in the face of unstoppable cruelty pummeling short sharp shocked

In 1999, I felt it for at least 78 days, every morning waking from a nightmare made flesh, every night crying into the bed sheets – suspended in a nightmare state, both dreading and enslaved by the news

Like so many in so many different places before me and still
But the story the cold screen told me then was so, so different

In that time, to try to voice the kind of inescapably personal sense of pain and fear that I now see spectacularly paraded and splashed in frenzied patriotic melodrama largely brought me personal attacks and violently righteous lectures, uncomfortable and cold stares, indifference and silencing

How unfortunate but necessary was the bombing of my family

No words of sympathy, no concerned phone calls from friends to check if I or my family was alright, no mention of it in daily conversation

Could most North Americans ever imagine being told in the midst of such a time: we’re sorry, we know this is horrific, but there is no choice and this had to happen, in fact, it is necessary for the new world order (and have the whole of the rich, powerful nations of the world line up and endlessly, incessantly repeat it until everyone believed it). That to voice any pain or was a measure of your denial and evidence of the need for further punishment.

And after all, you deserve it, you are all in denial, you must pay. This is something to hail as the coming of true humanitarianism. So take heart in this subjection and bombardment – in fact, be grateful we are going to such lengths and spending far more money than we ever will provide in aid to mount such a huge depleted uranium fireworks show (or spectacularly filmic terrorist attack) for you

Could most North Americans ever imagine having this imposed for months with not even the remotest possible means of “retaliation” (that sentiment so necessary to the structure of the American psyche these days) against the invincible ‘gods’ in the sky

Nothing stopped then, the world didn’t stop, not the film releases and festivals, not the conversations on the street, not the stock market (in fact, it skyrocketed as a result)

It did not even register a slight twinge in the daily routines of the average North American, beyond a few more nationalist pep rallies (freshly coated in humanitarian concern) and the melodramatic spectacle of fleeing refugees for entertainment at night

The visibility those two towers have received in two days, compared to all the bombed buildings in Belgrade, Baghdad, Sudan that are still in ruins (no $$$ to reconstruct, of course) – how many could recognize those other “towers” if they suddenly appeared on television with no explanation?

The panic over the economic impacts and ripple effects of the destruction of two buildings in the nerve center of the rich world, versus the systematic targeting and destruction of a severely impoverished country's entire industrial, economic, and civilian infrastructure

No teams of grief counselors made available for the families of victims lost with the bombed buildings, downed airplanes, economic sanctions and destroyed industry and infrastructure in those other places we don’t need to know about (since, after all, we bomb them).

The impossible mix of emotions that swirl and the banality of the only words that I can find to voice them right now - the bottomless horror, the intense and inescapable onslaught of constant psychological stress, the endless wave of nausea familiar to those exposed to such devastation in the past, the sense of sheer shock, grief, sorrow for all those walking around in desperation with pictures of loved ones, the trauma too chillingly familiar and yet horrific in a whole new configuration

The fear for the future, for the world, for those next on the list to pay America’s dues

Yet anger that this "quiet rage" is not just about the devastation of having something hit so close to home, or the stillness of mourning, or even the profound shock of that first taste of war, but about the rage of having their untouchability and invincibility shattered, the furied indignancy that the horror “out there” should touch them in any way let alone strike at their very hearts and sense of security, the anger that because they are only feeling it now for the first time, finding out a taste of what it is like, it must be the first time it has ever happened

They’re supposed to live the charmed lives of the North American neoliberal dream (codewords freedom, democracy, the civilized world), and not be affected by how the rest of the world lives, not be bothered with the dread and messiness reserved for the rest of miserable humanity (as if anyone would ever want to go through such things, as if going through them somewhere else is part of the burden of those lower orders of beings who withstand such things because those are their lives and not ours)

I am not explicitly religious, yet I pray these days, quietly to myself at night, for the world, and especially for all the middle eastern and muslim peoples being daily subjected to the hell of the lynchmob mentality and the fear of imperialist retaliation right now

There must be no pause for the silence of the chasm that such abject horror opens up, for the space of reflection that tragedy could provoke. Fill it all up with sabre-rattling mediaspeak and vengeance now, quick get the markets trading again asap before we start to question too many things, things like what it would be like to live without them (or the dangerous epiphany that markets are not magic, and that mastering them won’t protect us or give us the illusion of protection anymore)

With each passing moment, each human loss is being transformed into dollars to line the pockets of defense and security contractors, into security agents to harass and shut out immigrants, into weapons to pummel places where no innocence is allowed to exist – and spare no expense, the cheque is now blank

This embattled, hobbled and cornered triumphalism is truly frightening. Even in times of unspeakable tragedy and moments of true grief, North America is dangerously awash with arrogance and overabundance


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