After writing on this date about 9/11 for years, I decided to stop. I had said all I had to say. Then last year, I saw something different, that the time that elapsed since 9/11 had been long enough that it was no longer about personal experience but something to be read about in history books and magazines. A generation now exists for which 9/11 is outside their lived experience. It’s a story, as Pearl Harbor was for my generation, something we knew all about but wasn’t our reality as it was my parents.
It’s unclear to me whether this Teen Vogue columnist and poli sci prof at Syracuse is saying that the terrorists are now to be seen as heroes of the Great Progressive Battle against heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems that maintain white supremacy, but it’s surely not a condemnation of terrorism.
We’ve seen a lot this of late. The Holocaust ain’t no big thing compared to what white people have done to black people, I was informed by a twitterer last week. It never occurred to me that the day would come when people on the left would rehabilitate Hitler. And now begins the “reimagination” of 9/11 as a battle in the Glorious War against heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems. Then again, a similar ahistorical delusion won a Pulitzer Prize not too long ago and has metastasized among our educational elite.
The difference today is that these ideas are not merely uttered openly, but by people with letters after their names and positions of influence, particularly over the impressionable minds of young people. Norms have not merely broken down, but become the fodder of ridicule to the insipid zealots of the new secular religion of woke. And now 9/11 has become fair game for reimagination to serve the cause of social justice.
This day was bound to come. I knew it. You did too if you thought about it. The day when whatever transitory outrage of the moment was far more important than some dusty old bit of ancient American history that wasn’t really as bad as it seemed, clearly wasn’t as important as the outrage du jour and was no longer relevant to the world of people with an eight-second attention span. Filled with education and indoctrination, but devoid of wisdom and experience.
No doubt the terrorists believed they were freedom fighters against the amoral heretics of the West, justifying their own deaths and the murder of thousands of others as a necessary evil to battle the Great Satan. That’s how zealots perceive the world and their place in it, an existential battle of good against evil. No doubt that’s how Jenn M. Jackson, Ph.D., perceives herself. No doubt that’s how a great many others do as well, fighting for their version of truth which is so critical and real that they are willing to do anything, everything, to win at all costs.
The point really isn’t this take, per se, which isn’t exactly novel, but that it’s no longer so outrageous that it would be the contribution to the narrative of the moment that someone would say it out loud, would broadcast it on social media, would have neither shame nor reluctance for thinking it and sending it out into the ether.
Is it because she’s immune from criticism because of her race or gender? Is she above reproach because she invokes the protection of non-binary persons? Is it because anyone who challenges this narrative must be a racist, misogynist or transphobe, or, as has become acceptable rhetoric, a Nazi? Surely no one wants to be labeled a racist and so they must extol the virtues of the 9/11 terrorists in fighting against heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems.
It’s not that it was hard to see this coming. I saw it, as last year’s post reflected, but hoped I was wrong, or hoped we would somehow rise above the narrative that has polluted the fragile minds of the pseudo-intellectuals who confuse strings of meaningless words for cogent thoughts in the service of critical theory.
On September 11th, 2001, radical Muslim extremists hijacked airplanes and then flew them into the twin towers, killing thousands of people and bringing down the World Trade Center. It had nothing to do with social justice. It was just terrorism.