Tragedy told untruthfully

Tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks brings insincere remembrance from leaders

With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks only days away, people in America, Canada and most of the western world are being treated to a barrage of messages about this momentous occasion.

Our distinguished punditocracy are sculpting their commentaries on the significance of 9-11, on what we’ve learned and if we’re safer today than we were on that fateful day.

One can easily imagine modern-day philosopher kings Barack Obama and Stephen Harper, among other western leaders, perhaps flanked by 9-11 victims’ families, opining on how 9-11 changed us.

Each in turn will throw out variations on the theme that the attacks united civilized society and galvanized a divided world to snuff out the terrorist evil in its midst.

They will solemnly assert that we must never forget this devastating episode in world history, which claimed the lives of almost 3,000 innocent men, women and children on that day.

Of course, this figure ignores the deaths of first responders who became terminally ill after ingesting or inhaling dust from the debris of the collapsed towers, to say nothing of the over 100,000 estimated to have died in the wars waged allegedly in response to the attacks.

Such remarks would also no doubt be embellished by the obligatory genuflections toward the “brave men and women of the military” who pay the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect and secure the freedoms some of us ungrateful slobs take for granted.

Yes, our would-be state saviours will do their best to resurrect the spectre of horror, chaos and mayhem that has resonated throughout the North American mainstream media echo chamber - usually accompanied by images of some brown-skinned creeps in paramilitary garb.

As this Sept. 11 anniversary comes and goes, it is my sincere hope that people from all walks of life will remember not just the tragic loss of life when the towers fell.

And we can probably not unreasonably expect the occasion to provide a backdrop for announcements of new military purchases or continued aggression in places like Libya.

Evoking raw emotion can serve as the perfect complement to the latest public relations campaign for more bombastic foreign policy.

I can see leagues of well-meaning men and women demanding that America and the world re-commit to fighting and decisively winning the “War on Terror” while being blissfully unaware of the oxymoronic nature of that phrase.

Elite political pundits will do their best to use the 9-11 anniversary as an occasion to market more aggression and consumer spending.

“We can’t let the terrorists succeed in crashing our economy and our way of life,” they’ll say. “Show the evil-doers we mean business!” (pun intended).

As this Sept. 11 anniversary comes and goes, it is my sincere hope that people from all walks of life will remember not just the tragic loss of life when the towers fell.

They will remember the legions of decent people, including 9-11 victims’ families who valiantly shouted, “Not in my name!” in the face of bellicose rhetoric about “fighting for freedom.”

They will remember the disgusting manipulation of the public’s fear and anger that was used to justify a war in search of Saddam Hussein’s mythical “weapons of mass destruction.”

They will remember that Canadian authorities that justify aggression in the cause of democracy and freedom also facilitated the torture of Canadians like Maher Arar.

At its simplest, I hope the carnage of 9-11, and the chain of horrible events that it set off, will remind my fellow humans of the state’s capacity for mendacity.

As American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen put it over 25 years ago: “Blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed.”

Michael Anthony Welch is the news director at CKUW 95.9 FM and the regular host of ALERT Radio.

Published in Volume 66, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2011)

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