Tuesday, October 17, 2006

U of M and 9/11

A little while ago, one of my esteemed colleagues the Hippie Conservative (who has an INCREDIBLE blog; very thought provoking) made a pretty legitimate gripe about how our school didn't do its job of commemerating the tragic events of 9/11.
After hearing his argument, I thought that he was on to something. Why isn’t the University of Michigan, one of the most recognized colleges in the country, taking time out to observe the 5th anniversary of the September 11th? Of all the institutions recognizing the history of the day, shouldn’t we – as an academic institution be leading the way?

After thinking about it some, my answer is simple.

No.

Don't get me wrong: 9/11 definitely ranks up there as one of the most significant events I’ve ever witnessed. For our generation, this event signifies one of those shocking times in our lives where we’ll all “remember what we were doing when…” (other notable events include the assassination of JFK/MLK, the beginning of Operation: Desert Storm, and the reading of the OJ Simpson verdict). The significance of the event need not be questioned. And certainly, the horrific events of that day must never be forgotten; neither should those who suffered and perished. The day represents a dark time in history that we must always remember and a time from which we must take valuable lessons. But is the death of 3,000 people and the destruction of a few pretty nice buildings any worse than, let’s say, a death toll of 100,000 + from the Indonesian tsunami or the Pakistani earthquake? If 9/11 has more significance than those events, then – yes – the University should have taken time out to observe 9/11. But, as much as the die-hard, "America-is-the-greatest-place-ever" people don’t want to admit it, 9/11 isn’t any more as significant as any other tragedy in history; hell…even recent history.

The events of 9/11; while indeed sad and tragic; have turned Americans into grief-mongers and opportunists. Don’t’ believe me? How often have you heard politicians use 9/11 and terrorism for their own political maneuvering? How often have you heard “emotional” stories being plastered all over the media (as much as I despise the woman, Ann Coulter was on the money when she called out 9/11 widows for profiting off their husband’s deaths. Coulter's message was lost because of how mean, harsh, and heartless she is. But she DOES have a point. Before you argue with me, let’s see how many of the profits from Marian Fontana's new book will go directly into her own pocket.). How many of you have witnessed the hoard of money being made from movies, TV, and merchandise; reminding us to “Never Forget”, as if the daily reminders of 9/11 don’t do the job of reminding us (Not too long ago, I saw a commercial for a commemorative 9/11 coin; allegedly made from silver stolen…I mean “recovered” from ground zero. I wish I was making this up.).

Simply put: 9/11 has become a cliché used to incite people, to sell shit, to keep people scared, and to subvert the average American into political submission. This is especially unnerving in light of the fact that many far more disastrous things have taken place since 9/11; some of them happening right here on our own soil (Honestly, when’s the last time you saw a “Katrina: Lest we forget” t-shirt?). All that being said, I’m glad that the University didn’t join in the political, emotional, and consumer cesspool otherwise nicknamed 9/11 remembrance. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see that U of M didn’t get caught up in inane sensationalism of the day.

Perhaps I’m being a bit heretical when I say it, but this 9/11 was pretty ordinary for me. I called my old man to wish him a happy birthday (9/11 was his long before it became the property of American corporations and politicians), went to work, did some homework after work, goofed around a bit, and went to bed. I didn’t watch any specials on TV, listen to any news (well, nothing out of the ordinary anway), and I certainly didn’t buy any 9/11 crap out of remembrance. I celebrated 9/11 the best way I knew how: by living normally.

September 11th is an ordinary day. At least, it needs to be. The time is long past where we need to take special time out to recognize the day, shed tears, buy crap, and then go back to being fearful, GOP-pardoning, SUV-driving, gun toting, reality show watching, so-scared-I’ll-let-Bush-trample-my-freedoms, God-bless-America-and-no-place-else citizens that we are for the rest of the year.

There. I said it.

- ACL

25 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Anonymous guy said...

Being that your blog is laced with controversy, this is the only place I would feel safe asking: but why do we need to remember?!? I lived in NY and I was there during the attacks. My friend was at the WTC. I'm angry to this day. But it's over now. We need to move on! I mean, it's not like the whole world was destroyed. It's time to get over it so the healing can begin.

Andre said...

Whoa. Easy champ. I think you read too much into my post.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't remember or commemorate the events of 9/11. I just don't believe that we should allow all the hype and hoopla to blind us to WHAT we should be focusing on. The fact is: I don't know a single person who was killed during 9/11. So, I won't go out there and tell people that they need to forget what happened; especially if they were affected by the tragedy. But, I won't support people or institutions taking time out to remember if (1) they somehow benefit from it (i.e. politically or financially) or (2) if they do it out of obligation (Should U of M HAVE to commemorate the event? Should we HAVE to have a moment of silence at baseball games? No.)

Don't get me wrong: I think that people should take as much as time as they want to remember, reflect, pray, etc. to honor the memories of the folks who died. That's MORE than appropriate to do. But, I strongly disagree with using the idea of remembrance as some co-opted way of inciting people to promote some fervent wave of nationalism. If you recall, Nazi Germany used the same nationalistic approach to put Hitler in power.

By the way, you're safe to say ANYTHING you want on my blog. But, you do so at your own risk. Some people who read this (all four people) are likely to challenge you on what you say. So my advice to you is: don't say something unless you're willing to have it attacked.

KC said...

I know what you mean, Dre. Once I saw the wreath-laying photo-op with Bush and his old lady, I was through!

thehc said...

Hey Dre,
Convincing argument, I must admit. However the list of tragic things that have happened in the past that the "U" doesn't want to forget grows and grows. I mean, we spend a whole day remembering MLK around here. Then we have "Black History Month" filled with events designed to remind us of crimes against a people. A good thing, I believe. Followed by "Women's History Month" which has tons of events. I could go on and one for pages. I agree 9/11 has been used by unethical politicians on both sides, but certainly we shouldn't just forget history. (like slavery or women's suffering) Don't you think it's dangerous for our University to select what history we should or shouldn't memorialize based on the politics of the time? If we don't remember history, how can we learn from it?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm


Although you attend U of M and didn't know anyone affected by the attacks, there are plenty of students at all 3 campuses that DID have family involved in those attacks. The University SHOULD take time out to be sensitive to those PAYING STUDENTS who may be grieving over a loved one. Just like when someone at a Church has a loved one that passes: Although the entire congregation may not be affected, the Church does take time to acknowledge the deceased because someone in the congregation IS affected. It's simply showing sensitivity. Should they profit? Only if those profits go to help those who were affected by the attacks and still have trouble getting on their feet.

Andre said...

@ KC: I saw that nonsense with the Bushes too. I wanted to throw my TV out the window, but I couldn't afford to.

@ HC: I knew I could count on you for a good stirring debate. Let me try to address your points:

(1) MLK Day, Black History Month, Women's Sufferage, etc. are all nationally recognized because (1) they're all supported by legislation and (2) they represent years of EXTENDED history and EXTENDED struggle. 9/11 was a one-time deal. Again, I'm not trying to discount the tragedy, but does it compare to the Civil Rights movement, the Women's Sufferage, or the Middle Passage? Really? Also, as I maintain, I'm not saying that individuals shouldn't have the right to honor people. But, I say: do it on YOUR OWN ACCORD. Why should the expectation to honor stuff like that be put on the entire institution's shoulders?

(2) No matter how you slice it, 9/11 has been raped by opportunists. So if disassociating from the public spectacle of 9/11 is the only way for UM to stay clear of this molestation, I'm all for it.

@ Anonymous: Although I wasn't directly affected by the event, I'm well aware that many people on our campus were. But, does that warrant anything MORE than sensitivity from our campus?

If a "paying" student wants to grieve 9/11, they can go right ahead. But to expect the University of grieve along with them just because they pay tuition is unreasonable. Suffice it to say, since some of us aren't as affected, why should U of M only cater to those who are?

I remember when U of M cancelled classes on 9/11, I was pissed. I had an assignment due that I was working on all night. But, out of safety, rememberance, or whatever, they decided to close down. If the University left an option for students to stay or leave, I wouldn't have been as upset. Likewise, the University should allow those who want to take time out to commemorate the event should be allowed to do so without penalty. But to make it a campus wide thing is ridiculous.

U of M, by the way, IS open on MLK Day. They just give us the OPTION to take the day off or to come to work. Some people celebrate it; some don't. That's my point.

Hope that makes sense.

Fed up with this blog said...

People like you give America a bad name. How dare you desecrate the memories of those who died for this country on 9/11 by posting this?

May God forgive you, because I don't.

Andre said...

@ "Fed up": Rule #1: If you're "fed up with [my] blog", do me a favor: move your mouse up to that red box with the "x" in it, located in the upper right hand corner and click on it.

Rule #2: The people who "give America a bad name" are the cats selling 9/11 T-shirts, 2 for 15. Don't let me get started on the ones who use 9/11 to win presidential elections.

Rule #3: I don't expect your "forgiveness" for something that I'm not wrong about.

Rule #4: Even if I was wrong (yeah, right!): May God forgive you, since apparently, you don't have the capacity to forgive. You might wanna take a peek at Matthew 6:14-15.

Checkmate.

Diane said...

Andre, for what my opinion may be worth, I agree with you. But I think we can also put the tragedy of 9/ll in the context of people who will starve to death in the world just this one day. What about those dying of AIDS today? Ethnic cleansing, malaria, I could go on and on. 9/11 was an awful, terrible, dreadful tragedy, but not any worse than the tradedy of people dying every day from things that could be prevented and the tragedies that people perpetrate on other people.

May God open our eyes to the tragedy around us and move us as individuals, churches, cities and nations to make a difference. Lord, help us.

Cynthia said...

I agree with Diane and Andre. There are way too many other things going on in the world for us to narrowly focus on 9/11. We should open our hearts and minds up to victims all over the place; especially the victims of today.

If people want to reflect on the event, that's their business. But not everyone feels the same on this issue.

Cynthia said...

I got the gist of your argument, but I didn't read the whole thing until now. This was a pretty interesting post and I agree with most of it. But I must say that I'm suprised that you sided with Ann Coulter. She's the devil incarnated.

"fed up too" said...

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch! Do you complain about everything!?!?!?!?If someone wants to take time out to remember those who have died, let them. My goodness.....Heaven forbid something happened to YOUR family. Insensitive are we? I guess some peope aren't affected about things unless it's happening to them.

green eyed girl on planet earth said...

Hello Andre` My Greeneyed Handsome man,

I agree with you , stand your ground, ,as you stir the pot ,it can cause different things to happen ,not all favorable !BUT it still needs to be stirred.I do not think you sound insensitive ,and I think many not counting those here ,would share your opinion,but would feel shunned for expressing their thoughts on this delicate matter .Bravo for speaking your MIND ,which by the way is one of the most wonderful things about you :}
Keep up the great posts Andre , you are always wonderful to read :}
.
Greeneyes

Anonymous said...

Andre, In your response to "thehc's" post, you stated: "Again, I'm not trying to discount the tragedy, but does it compare to the Civil Rights movement, the Women's Sufferage, or the Middle Passage? Really?"

I think the point that everyone is trying to make is that just because YOU may not feel that way about a situation, doesn't mean that OTHERS don't feel that way. We can't expect the world to feel the way that we feel, especially when everyone has different experinces. I wouldn't expect a member of the KKK to see the validity in celebrating the Civil Rights Movement but I coulld understand the way an Afican American could see it as important. Does this mean that just because there is a difference of opinion that it should be discounted?

I do agree that most use these commemorations to make money, and I think that everyone would have to disagree with that.

Keep living, Andre. I would never wish something tragic on you, but if it does happen to an immediate member of your family, I can garuntee that you won't feel the same.

Andre said...

@ Greeny: Hey my green-eyed queen: Thanx for your vote of confidence. I agree that -- in the age of censorship -- its important to stir the pot every now and then. History has shown us that progressive movements have always started by an individual or a group of individuals standing up against the status quo. While I don't think that this particular post was meant to be stirring necessarily, I guess that it is pretty controversial nontheless.

Thanks for your comments.

Now, on to my "fed up" friends:

(1) Based on your titles, I'm assuming that if you're 'fed up', that implies that you've been here before and you know how I operate. So, just the fact that you're still coming around despite being "fed up" is funny to me. Thanks for the chuckle.

(2) I would suggest that, before you comment, you read, re-read and re-re-read what I have to say. Never in my post or in my comments did I suggest that people shouldn't be able to reflect, remember or do whatever they have to to deal with their issues. The point of my argument (the point that you apparently didn't get) is that they 'grievers' shouldn't expect any entire institituion (i.e. U of M) to use its resources and dedicate itself to sharing in that person's grief; especially if it comes at the expense of others who aren't affected. 9/11 happens. It's tragic. But why should I have to miss a class (that I paid for) for that? If another student wants to, it's his/her right. If I DON'T want to, it's my right.

@ "Fed up too": As if the first guy wasn't funny enough, your comments were just what I needed to get a really good laugh.

"Bitch, Bitch, Bitch! Do you complain about everything!?!?!?!?"

As I mentioned earlier, somebody else ASKED ME what I thought about the subject. I didn't just wake up in the morning "complaining" about it. There's a difference. Since the question and my response were good enough for MY liking, I posted it on MY blog. Which takes me to my next point: I'd like to give you the same advice that I gave your other fed up partner. I'm all for discussion and disagreement. But if you're at the point where you're "fed up" with what I have to say, click on that red button with the X in the right hand corner. It magically makes whatever you don't want to read disappear.

"If someone wants to take time out to remember those who have died, let them.

See. This is why I suggest you actually read what I say before commenting. I already said this.

"My goodness.....Heaven forbid something happened to YOUR family"

Funny you say that, since you don't know me. You have NO IDEA what kinds of things I've been through in my life. I've dealt with sickness, turmoil, abuse, alcoholism, AND death (expected and unexpected). I've had my share of hardships. But I'm not expecting the whole world to stop what they're doing to pay homage to me; especially when there are SO MANY OTHER TRAGEDIES in this world. The Indonesian tsunami killed more than 33 times the number of people that died during 9/11. Do major institutinos shut down to remember them? Oh that's right. It didn't happen in America, so it doesn't matter.

"Insensitive are we?"
Not at all. Being insensitive is NOT CARING AT ALL. I like to see it more as "putting things in perspective".

"I guess some peope aren't affected about things unless it's happening to them."

The difference is: when bad things happen to me, I don't expect for everyone to bend over backwards for me...especially when they wouldn't do if for me when things are going well. I wouldn't want people giving me a large celebration/commemeration in death if they didn't even acknowledge me while I was alive.

Welcome to "Inside Andre's Head." If you don't like what you read, you can always go to www.happy&comfortablethoughts.com instead.

@ Anonymous: Again, I would suggest that you re-read this post before commenting. The original question that sparked this debate was: "Andre (addressed at ME; not "fed up", not anonymous...but ANDRE), do YOU feel like U of M was wrong for not commemorating 9/11?"

The major part of my response (the overcommericialization, exploitation, and politicizing of the tragedy) seems to get ignored, while the smaller part of my argument (us validating the significance of the day) seems to be getting the most press. Typical, I guess.

But, since you seem to be obsessed with that element of comment, let me address it: As I said before, if people want to reflect on the events, they can go right ahead. But I shouldn't have to if I don't want to. If the University wants to allow students a day of activities and celebration, that's fine. But it shouldn't affect those who don't choose to subscribe to it. On MLK day, people don't HAVE to work/go to class. But the option is available. For Holidays (especially non-Christian holidays) the University allows students time off to celebrate without penalty. I'm all for that. The same should apply to commemorating 9/11.

People have opinions all the time. Believe it or not, not everybody's thoughts and opinions match yours. If you don't like it, as I said with the other guys, you know where the Close box is.

Obey your thirst.

KC said...

happy&comfortablethoughts.com?!

The Red box with the X that makes things magically disappear?!

Hahahaha! Genius, dawg!

Yo, remind me not to get on your bad side. Don't wanna have my ass handed to me like you did with these dudes. Damn!

Cynthia said...

Yeah, I gotta agree with KC. I don't know what lit a fire under your ass Andre, but I'm glad that I'm not on the receiving end of your wrath.

You've got a pretty cutting way with the words.

Andre said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa guys. Before you instigate this matter any further, I don't have a "bad side" (as least not at the moment) and I'm not unleashing any "wrath". I'm just reminding the audience that what's read is MY opinion.

I intentionally put a tag under my blog title so that the "shock and awe" would be minimized. If people read that tag (what I call a "disclaimer"), they will see the "Viewer Discretion is advised" line I use.

If the movie association goes to great length to warn the parents about violence in a movie, they can't get mad if their kids see people's heads getting blown off. They've been warned.

My page is the same way. I let people in advance that my blog "challenges conventional thought on topics like politics, religion, and society." It's up to reader to decide if they want to listen to my "bitching"...

Andre said...

I meant to say: I let people KNOW in advance...

Joanne said...

Andre,

I understand where you're coming from and I agree with your comments to a large extent, so I won't comment on the post itself.

But what bothers me is that you come across as being a "double talker" by saying that you welcome other people's opinions and then blast them for sharing them.

Not everybody is going to agree with you on everything. Do you plan on telling everyone who disagrees with you to click the "red box with the X"?

Andre said...

Joanne,

Thanks, as always for your comments. But, allow me to clarify something for you:

The last thing that I ever looked for is an "Amen Corner"; people to validate what I'm saying by supporting me. Regardless to what ANYBODY says (agreeing or disagreeing), I'm going to have my opinion. Hence the whole MY blog thing. And, yes, I encourage feedback and response even when it's not congruent with my own thoughts. I mean, I can't count the number of times you and I or HC and I have had disagreements. It's the exchange of thought that builds a TRUE intellectual.

Where my grits get burned is when people confuse my "speaking my mind" with "complaining and bitching". When I hear people say stuff like that, I wonder to myself "if they hate it so much, why are they here?" Sometimes, unfortunately, those kinds of thoughts wind up finding their way on my page.

But, for the record, I don't mind people challenging my thoughts and beliefs. When they challenge ME PERSONALLY is when I start biting.

Hope that makes sense.

KC said...

Uh...Dre. I went to www.happy&comfortablethoughts.com and I didn't get anything. Can you suggest another website?

saved_sinner said...

I was sitting back being a quiet observer at first, but I guess I'll comment also.

I admit that I'm not going to say anything that hasn't already been said, but here goes:

Andre, it seems to me that you don't like it when people using convincing arguments that go against what you think. But since you indicate that you're so open to hearing others, maybe you should do so more often without being so condescending toward them.

Andre said...

Rob,

I have to disagree with you on that one. In fact, not too long ago, I was on Hippie Conservative's blog (the guy with whom I always seem to debate), and one of his readers and I had a HEATED argument about the separation of church and state, racism, white privilege, etc. Our debate went back and forth for about 40 posts or so. There was no name-calling, no insults, no condescension. We kindly and respectfully shared our opinions; as I was trying to do here. But when I'm accused of "bitching", am I the one being condescending here?

Hmmmm...?

I get your point. But whatever condescension I do is retaliatory. Plus...again...this IS my blog...

natasha said...

Nicely put, Andre. I was thinking the same thing on 9/11 when the media was making such a big deal about the fifth anniversary. I have no doubt that 9/11 was horrible. But, like you said, it was just one small tragedy in the middle of a whole list of tragedies! Natural disasters, genocides, war, etc. Do we really need to wallow in misery for 9/11 and forget about everything else in the world and such? The more we respond, the more power the terrorists have over us.