I am swearing off all media today because I cannot stand this endless attention to 9/11 and the persistent glorification of police and fire and EMT, and whatever other state-employed professionals are deemed to be heroes because they represent the state as our rescuer, benefactor, and savior.
First, I absolutely dislike the term “first responder” because it is a term of veneration with no basis other than these folks are employed by the state in hallowed roles. My friend, who is a retired police officer, mentioned he had been out on some police and fire discussion boards making the unpopular argument that police officers, firemen, and all other so-called first responders, are not heroes. We were in agreement that they are not heroes just because they do their job, whatever that job entails. They are not heroes because they may have some element of danger in their work – just like an accountant who balances the book is not a hero, and a lumberjack who drops a tree is not a hero. Yet each time a first responder dies, the local – and sometimes national – media reminds us over and over of the passing individual’s greatness and service to his country. Are there not a lot of great accountants and lumberjacks who pass on as well?
My deceased father, a career firefighter, also despised the fixation with propping up police and fire personnel as the demigods of public security and welfare. He disliked the media exaltation and he refused to attend a mass funeral of one of his own with lines of fire trucks and police cars, with lights ablaze, blocking and parading down the streets to broadcast that a hero has passed. He chose to quietly visit the funeral parlor instead.
First of all, remember that the number of Americans who died on 9/11 is much larger than the three thousand people who died in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, and on the hijacked airplanes. I don’t have an exact figure, but the true death toll for September 11, 2001, is much closer to ten thousand people.
That’s not some conspiracy theory, it’s mortality statistics. There are about 300 million people in the United States, and a small percentage of them die every day. If 9/11 was otherwise a typical day, it means that in addition to the 3000 deaths from terrorism, another 7000 Americans passed away for other reasons.
I can’t get it out of my head that the families of some of those people have got to feel a bit…cheated, maybe? Imagine, for example, the wife of some liquor store clerk who was shot to death in a robbery on the night of September 10th, 2001. She wakes up the next morning for one of the worst days of her life, only to discover that nobody seems to care.
I don’t want to be all holier-than-thou about this, but just this once, when we think of the people who died on 9/11, let’s try to think of all the people who died on 9/11.
Ten years ago, Americans got hit good and hard with the sort of death and destruction they so enjoy being on the other end of, and the United States became as noisy and menacing as a country-sized dropped beehive.
Some of the seeds of my future war tax resistance were planted then, in my disgust with the bloodthirsty, know-nothing jingoism and my intuitions about what it would lead to.
. . .
I also tried to imagine how a saner, wiser, more courageous world might have responded:
. . .
CONGRESS PASSES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING BOMBINGS OF HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI
Washington (AP) — Congress today passed a resolution apologizing for the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
“It is the understanding of this Congress,” the resolution read, “that there is no justification for the wholesale murder of civilians — not to discourage an imperialist enemy, no matter how aggressive or irrational — not to prevent the loss of life of soldiers on the battlefield — not even to win a war that might be otherwise lost.
“To slaughter thousands of innocents in order to horrify a nation into surrender can never be a victory for Good. We recognize this now as we have not recognized this before.
“As we prepare for battle against the evil of terrorism, we must as part of this preparation purify our hearts, atone for our injustices, and be able to go forward with confidence that we are in the right. As our chaplain said, ‘we ask not that God be with us, but that we be always with God.’
“We do solemnly and gravely apologize for the great evil this country committed when we murdered and maimed hundreds of thousands of people in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We condemn the bombing of civilian areas to terrorize a populace or a nation.”