Thirteen years ago, about 3000 people died in New York City in what was to become the pivot for the 'war against terror'. This day is remembered for a man called Osama bin Laden, for an organisation called Al Qaeda. More importantly, and what the mainstream will not acknowledge, it should be known for how hatred got legiimised by the establishment.
The west, specifically the United States of America, could use the war against terror to encroach upon other lands (in whatever polite manner you wish to designate its violent intrusions). This resulted in even more disaffected groups that formed almost solely on the ballast of what the paranoid society referred to as "anti-Americanism". It is an example of how convincing pugnacity can be when employing emotive appeal.
One does not need to rely on conspiracy theories to see that the American government used those 3000 people for political gain at home and abroad. Its enemies are now more dispersed groups and their modus operandi in-your-face. They do not even care about PR victories, and lack the devilish charisma of an Osama, whose westernised past imbued him with an aura of the prodigal returning.
It isn't anymore about what is right, but what is seen to be right. If the war against terror was not a mere moral bait, then there would perhaps be no ISIS, at least not as a caliphate running a parallel system. There would have not been disgruntled groups in almost all of the Middle East, with civil strife that enables the US to drop in to "bring back democracy".
At the just-inaugurated-after-a-lot-of-bickering National September 11 Memorial Museum there is The Freedom Tower to offer hope to Americans. They need it and deserve it. But, what about the families of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq by misguided drones? On an average, it amounts to 48 people per day. (According to this study: 225,000 casualties.) Democracy was supposed to be their hope — they are being tossed about by dictators in sheep's clothing.
The Museum should have a contemporary section for such updates and fallouts of 9/11.
When a report in Forbes on the museum states, "After a security check which immediately reminds us of the new-normal, post- 9/11 America", you realise that America has made Americans forget that it is a contributor to many not normal societies now.
There is always a reason to mourn, and no one would deny those who lost and those who fear losing that space for catharsis. A wall scrawled with names and a concrete piece of the Twin Towers might do just that. I am not so sure about exhibits that regurgitate the last moments, though.
Benches within alcoves provide dozens of multi-media presentations and emotional narratives designed to make you feel the mournful experience, with tissue provided nearby. Behind partly-hidden alcoves are the graphic photos of falling bodies.
This is voyeurism. Tissues are provided? Is this a farce? Other items are shown with some historical reference of who wore what and how others responded.
Naturally, the enemy had to be featured. While they are here, people are not to pay attention to the 'ISIS is worse than Al Qaeda' political statements.
And a controversial exhibition shows the years-long hunt, the discovery, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. On display are the shirt from the Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden and an item from the terrorist’s compound.
This portion from the story is revealing in its jejune stance:
For respite from all this emotional overload, a cafe is on the second floor, and the much-debated gift shop offers mainly tasteful, patriotic goods, most honoring police and firefighters, New York and the flag.
After it's over, sit with a coffee and take home those patriotic goods? Unlike the souvenir industry by quick-bucks makers that came up immediately after the attacks, the American establishment is blatantly riding on the back of its biggest tragedy to market nationalism.
© Farzana Versey