Kimlee Davis Davis
Professor Brinsmaid Page 1
October 10th, 2011
“Response Paper #3”
In the article, “Whatever Happened to the America of 9/12?”, Frank Rich utilizes some compelling photographs to impact the minds of the readers and viewers. On one hand, he offers an image of an unidentified World Trade Center victim falling to his death on 9/11.
He mentions that the photo and photos like it became instantly taboo and hidden from the public eye in an attempt to shelter everyone from the effects that the picture would have on them so soon after the dreadful events. On the other hand, he offers “another taboo 9/11 photo, about life rather than death, that is equally shocking in its way”. The image is of a couple of friends that seem to be taking a break and chatting joyfully on such a sunny day while the aftermath of the fallen towers consumes the city in the distant background. Mr. Hoepker’s photo was and is considered to be so troubling because the subjects seemed almost laissez-faire to the destruction manifesting in the background as if it were any other day. He witheld the picture from publication because he thought it woud stir the wrong emotions and decided that it was too soon for this photo as well. He then states that, “over time, with perspective, it grew in importance.” By this, I’m sure he’s remarking on the fact of just how soon and easily we Americans go back to our daily lives and habits after any sort of disruption or disaster.
Rich refers to the picture of jolly friends and chaos as “a snapshot of history soon to come”. He remarks that America is a country that likes to move on, and fast… Just as Tony Hayward stated after the BP oil spill disaster, “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back”.
From here, Rich points out what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong regarding our ability to move on so quickly. He explains that the fact that the terrorists failed to break America’s back is what’s gone right. The economy was not destroyed, the culture survived intact, and it only took about four days for the television to resume scheduled broadcasting. A bit of that can also be seen as what’s gone wrong. I like how he puts it out there, too. As he says, “Before 9/11, Americans feasted on reality programs, nonstop coverage of child abductions and sex scandals.” and “Five years later, they still do.” Rich really gives you a feel for how unphased most Americans became after the events and how it relates to the photograph of the friends enjoying the day as the city is engulfed in a cloud of disaster.
Not everyone had the ability to brush the events aside, though. As Rich puts it, “For those directly affected by the terrorists’ attacks, this resilience can be hard to accept.” In New York, the heart of the incident, Rich notes that a political correctness about 9/11 is still strictly enforced, even though the people have stirred no controversy over things like the movies made so soon after everything had happened. To Rich, the price of resilience is forgetfulness. We’ve forgotten the affection and unity, the help from good samaritans at a cost of their health, and the exchanging of solace, sympathy, and grief among citizens rebuilding their lives in the aftermath. President Bush remarked on this unity and how it extended across the world, right before he smothered it in it’s cradle. According to Rich, the Bush administration hi-jacked the moment of unity for his own political gains. Very soon after the attacks, he was using an F.D.R. quote to get the American people on board with his selfish agenda of using fear as a weapon against them by their own government. With no evidence or thorough investigation, Bush’s war cabinet was quick to hype nonexistent links between Iraq and the Al Qaeda attacks. Fear was also used in a tactic to keep Americans from saying anything against what the president had planned to initiate. Americans were told that they needed to watch what they say and watch what they do. Fearmongering was used to pit us against one another and we were made to watch our steps and words as they might be used against us. Which, by the way, sounds like something a police officer might say to you before you get arrested. Rich shines a light on the fact that the G.O.P. started selling 9/11 photos of the president on Air Force One to campaign donors and how the White House began to feature flag-draped remains of the 9/11 dead in political ads, which I find to be quite sickening if I may say.
Its ten years later and our country is still in this illegal occupation waging war against a country that did not attack us. So, do I think this article is still relevant ten years later? Yes. Very much so. The news still feeds us violence and hate and a lot of Americans consume it daily as it is all they have come to know and love. Fearmongering still pits us against one another. The politicians have different names, but still use similar tactics to control our lives in their political favor. The war seems to be unceasing even though Osama Bin Laden was killed this year and no one can tell me exactly why we are still over there fighting and what we are fighting for. Although, I will say that something has changed. As Rich wonders whatever happened to the America of 9/12, the unified force of good samaritans, I write this response in the headquarters of those very same people. The ones that clean up and fix the disasters that are toppling down on our backs. The people that unite in diversity against all odds. The people that turn off the television and reignite the spirit of those around them that need and so deserve help and love. We are here. We are awakened. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.