Has 9/11 Lost Its Meaning?
I still remember where I was that day. I was 11 years old, in 7th grade Biology. My teacher, Ms. Colchamiro, was pulled out of class. She came in and continued teaching. They didn’t tell us what was happening – probably because they didn’t know how. My babysitter took me out of school, and when I asked why, she made me turn on the TV. I was worried about my parents, who worked in midtown/downtown Manhattan. Every year on September 11th, I shudder to think how different my life would be if my parents hadn’t been away from the WTC that morning.
But this year, I took a step back and looked at the public discourse surrounding yesterday. There was Florida’s Pastor Jones scheduling a burning of the Koran and the debate in New York going on around the Islamic Cultural Center in the same neighborhood as Ground Zero, and the news that both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin hosted a $100+ a head party to “honor America”. What does that even mean?
What happened to the somber tones on this day? I know what they say about time healing all wounds, and I’m glad that each year the pain of loss stings our country a little bit less. But is this the way we want this wound to heal?
Instead of messages of love and acceptance, of honoring the lives of those lost, we focus on messages of hatred. Instead of rising to the occasion and showing everyone how great this country can truly be, we have simply taken on an anti-muslim message with the label of “Patriotic” and “Pro-American”. An Islamic Cultural Center is not the same as a terrorist hub, not even remotely. Burning the Koran, while a form of freedom of speech, could potentially fuel the extremist group Al-Quaeda to simply represent a message of hate. The discourse in this country needs to move past trigger words and instead move on to more important discussions. I just hope it starts soon.