I have much to say about the magnificent American unity that storied and evil day, September 11, 2001, wrought “from sea to shining sea,” but I’m reserving all that for the 20th anniversary of the day itself. Today I come not to praise Americans for how they came together on that day but to bury some of the ones who didn’t.
September 11, 2001, or 9/11 as it will be forever known, was what I call a “Kennedy Day.” Like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, it was a day that changed the world and dominated the news cycle for an entire year and beyond. It was a day of inflection, a line drawn deep in historical sand, a day when many people who were alive on that day will forever read historical events as events that happened before and after September 11.
Just as that day brought out the beautiful side in most of us it brought out the ugly side in some. I’m not talking about the obvious: fascism with an Islamic face. That is an antipathy of mine that doesn’t need to be stated or explained. I’m referring to the Religious Right and how they saw 9/11 as a golden opportunity to show the world just how stupefyingly evil they could be.
The late “Reverend” Jerry Falwell and the lamentably still among us Pat Robertson couldn’t help crowing about how we had invited and somehow deserved the atrocities of 9/11, that it was a judgment from God for our tolerance of homosexuality and other awful pronouncements I’m neither going to give print space nor memory to. My disgust for them and people like them is as clear and visceral today as it was then.
Then there are the 9/11 “Truthers,” who grew like a festering carbuncle out of the back of the neck of that day, and squatted like a bunch of stupid, self-righteous toads among us. They took and still take the heroic efforts of first responders and turned them into a mockery. Some of the “truthers” are even dumb enough to suggest that the first responders were “in on it.”
Truthers will tell you to this day and with a straight face the same instantly disprovable lie that huge swaths of engineers and scientists believe that 9/11 was a false flag operation staged (or at least permitted) by the Bush Administration. The truth of the matter is that support for the movement is negligible among professionals in relevant fields, such as civil and aerospace engineering. But the festering toads never let facts get in their way.
Nor do they ever bother to ask themselves obvious questions, such as why would anyone believe that murdering 3,000 Americans and blaming that murder on Saudi nationals provide anyone with a pretext for invading Iraq? But that’s what these stupefyingly dense idiots “think,” if you’ll pardon my employing that word for something emphatically other than thinking.
Naturally such an operation would require the assistance of thousands of people all of whom have kept silent for 20 years, people willing to perform baffling operations like seeding the Twin Towers (at night? When no one is supposedly looking?) with high explosives because crashing fuel-laden airplanes into the World Trade Center is somehow “not enough.” I have never tried LSD or mushrooms so I cannot vouchsafe for an occasion when such an idea might appear logical.
Then there’s Donald Trump, a category unto himself. Trump used the occasion to get on the radio and brag about how one of his buildings in the downtown area (I forget which one and refuse to look it up) had suddenly been made the tallest in lower Manhattan. Yep, that’s the kind of guy he is. Then he later invented the lie that he saw hundreds (or was it thousands?) of Muslims cheering as the Twin Towers fell. Then he later claimed he was down in the rubble helping out. There is no evidence of this. There are, on the other hand, photos of Hillary Clinton in the rubble helping out.
Now Donald Trump is going to spend the 20th anniversary of the attack on America providing ringside commentary for a boxing match featuring former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. Yep, that’s how every flag-waving conservative’s hero
is going to solemnify the day. By doing ringside commentary. At a boxing match.
So just in case you forgot what a jerk Donald Trump is, here is Donald Trump to remind you. He’s back to remind you that he has no empathy, has no interest in the “losers and suckers” who died that day. Trump is back to trumpet his ego and to make the day about his very most favorite subject of all: himself. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.