I don’t know how many Deleted Scenes columns I’ve written over the years sharing the headline above but it has to be at least six by now. This past weekend, as I watched the march of morons all around me—both in the media and in what I’ve recently learned is referred to as “real life”—doing their solemn, “I remember where I was when…” bullshit, there is simply no single word that more sums up how I feel about it. So “ugh” it is. And if I can add to that: Ugh.
“I remember I was watching on television when the second tower fell.” No shit, dickweed. You were either there or you were watching it on television. And you want to know what? Watching it on TV DOES NOT—repeat, DOES NOT—mean you have a personal connection to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It just doesn’t. Please proceed to shut the fuck up and let me watch the Yankees lose in peace.
It’s been bad every year since 2001, but I knew this was going to be worst. I waited for it as though I’d been given a memo that said, “Sappy jingoistic bullshit determined to attack within the United States.” At least I believe that would have been the title. Fucking hell.
As I stood in the checkout line of the liquor store on Sunday and watched as Mr. High N. Tight in the “Freedom Isn’t Free” flag shirt—which looked like the kind of thing you buy at the 4th of July fireworks in your town for the same price as the sparklers your dumbass children burn their fingers on—paid for his Budweiser in the flag cans, I was genuinely glad the terrorists won. I was. I don’t care about 9/11 anymore. If someone reading this lost someone they loved, well, damn, that sucks, and it’s really unfortunate, but I’m afraid any chance I ever had of giving a shit about it again was taken from me by the completely idiotic decade that’s happened since.
And if I can clarify a point: The terrorists won. They won. They absolutely fucking won. I know they won, because this weekend, in what’s supposedly the freest country in the world—as if U.S. News And World Report is about to do their “World’s Freest Countries” issue—soldiers with assault rifles lined the Hudson River crossings. They won because the object of terrorism is to instill terror, and 10 years, three wars, trillions of dollars and one shot-in-the-face Osama Bin Laden later, we’re still quaking in our shoebombs that the nameless, faceless brown men with the funny names and the beards are going to fly planes into our buildings.
Keep your 9/11 memorial. On my calendar this year, it said this past Sunday was “Patriots Day.” Until it’s a federal holiday and I can at least get a Monday off for it, keep that too, because the real lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, was that the people of America needed to realize that all their actions have consequences. That it’s not just foreign policy—it’s lives. The real lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, was that not everyone everywhere is as convinced as we are that we’re the greatest country in the world, and that maybe if we stopped chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” long enough to listen, someone else might have something to say. And that’s the lesson we ignored the hardest.
We went to war. Needlessly. Twice. We bankrupted the nation, sold out our principles to fear and took—by minimum estimates—at least 100 lives for every single one that was lost in the Twin Towers. Our actions have been sickening, near-genocidal and have galvanized movements against us both violent and not. But more than anything else, our actions have been fearful. More than anything else, we’ve been afraid for the last 10 years, and we’re still afraid now.
So fuck it, I refuse to participate in the circle jerk of vacuous patriotic claptrap. The lesson I learned on 9/11 was that my countrymen and I don’t deserve to live in the place we thought we did, and that anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. If you consider yourself anything more than lucky to have the rights and privileges that come with being born American, you’re wrong.
So yeah, ugh.