Monday, September 11, 2006
Today is a remembrance of the devastating morning that scarred the nation, and ultimately the world. It has been a morning of solemnity, of dignified bells, of bagpipes and heads bowed in prayer. The almost 3,000 that died were remembered- the first responders, the workers, the bystanders and the passengers on the hijacked civilian missiles. Upon learning the news five years ago today, I was devastated. I was shook by the intensity of the day itself, but also with the inevitability of suffering that would play out throughout the world theatre and in the USA in its aftermath. Like the September 11 of 1973 in Chile, the bombing of a building warped a democracy for the years that followed.
The United States anti-globalization movement was among the casualties of 9/11. The momentum of Seattle ’99 was all but obliterated as the planes exploded. The coalitions of activists that forced the WTO into the mountain retreats of Davos or the protest-free deserts of Qatar were branded as domestic terrorists. This wasn’t a post-911 distinction, but the equivalency of terrorism in the American psyche forced activists into defensive positions. These included resisting sweeping new anti-democratic Patriot Act legislation, countering the boldness of the Information Awareness Program, and making a difficult attempt to educate the public on the domestic surveillance atrocities that made the dreams of a liberated nation that much more distant.
Today I also mourn for the losses suffered by workers, farmers and environmentalists all over the world who no longer had their causes as priorities of the movements that fought for their livelihood. Instead, the focus was an international galvanization of resistance to the criminal enterprise in Iraq. The anti-globalization movement morphed into the anti-war movement- a natural segue that called for necessary action, but not without a significant price.
I mourn for a movement that almost unanimously felt the necessity to support another pro-war Yalee whiteboy for president in 2004, who only changed his mind about the imperial adventure when he thought it could bring him to power. It was the fallout from September 11 that convinced a movement that once turned their backs on Republicrats to buy back into the Democratic Party’s gross corruption and lies, even if it was for just one more time. 9/11 precipitated the flag riot of 2004 in the city of New York, during the Republican variation on the Nuremberg Rally, where NYPD stormtroopers have boasted about mass pre-emptive arrests and other grave violations of civil liberties made possible by a 21st century American detainment culture.
I mourn for the hopelessness and despair of artists who became public activists in the greatest numbers since the 1960s, only to withdraw after 2004 into a mentality that has only been recognized in recent years in totalitarian countries- that of the dissident artist. In a country that fixes elections and silences dissent, the notion prevails that perhaps the greatest weapon can be wielded through the moral resistance of creativity itself. This is not Eastern Europe. This is not China. This is (not?) America.
Today I remember the fallen workers, the travelers, the fireman, the police, the immigrants, the muslims, the orphaned in East Orange and Tikrit, and my fellow citizens whose liberties may never be regained. I always loved you America, and believed you would be great someday. But you’re looking like a stranger, and today my heart is broken.
- Frank Sherlock