So some friends and I were discussing the annual 9/11 commemorations, which seem to be building rather than tapering off as the 10-year anniversary approaches, and some of us were saying how moving they are, and some of us were saying, Enough already!
I was in the enough-already camp. It's not that I feel people should stop grieving. Or that I don't share the horror. Or that I'm against celebrating the heroism of the "bravest" and "finest." But let's face it: most of those who died on 9/11 were not heroes. They were victims—ordinary people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were the victims of a crime. It's true that the poignancy of the reading of the names comes from the sheer diversity they represent. But while it may make us feel proud that our nation hosts such diversity, we should also feel shame about the raft of racist hogwash that erupts over 9/11: the Koran burning, the nastiness about the Muslim cultural center, the self-righteous demands by victims' families for the future of the site. Indeed, the backlash that has followed the 9/11 attacks has killed far more minding-their-own-business Muslims—here and in Iraq—than the 3,000 Americans killed at the World Trade Center.
Next door to my building is an Irish pub. And every 9/11 since 2001, cops and fire fighters have gathered there to get wasted—falling-down, wretching drunk. There must be a better way to commemorate their dead comrades, who truly were heroes, than making themselves sick.
Maybe they're getting drunk about something else now, the emptiness of their post-heroic lives, the lack of gratitude of the people they protect, the day-to-day dreariness that makes us all crave oblivion.