Alissa Torres, a 9/11 widow, on the “Ground Zero Mosque” in today’s Salon.
What did I think about the decision to construct a “mosque” this close to ground zero? I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course it should be built there. I sometimes wonder if those people fighting so passionately against Park51 can fathom the diversity of those who died at ground zero. Do we think no Muslims died in the towers? My husband, Eddie Torres, killed on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald while I was pregnant with our first child, was a dark-skinned Latino, often mistaken for Pakistani, who came here illegally from Colombia. How did “9/11 victim” become sloppy shorthand for “white Christian”? I wish someone would put out a list of all the ethnicities and religions and countries and economic levels of the victims. For all the talk of “remembering 9/11,” I wonder if we’ve missed the patriotic message entirely.
For the record, hundreds of foreign nationals from 90 countries died in the twin towers; Canada alone lost two dozen citizens. It doesn’t mean that this was not primarily an American tragedy. It simply means that this was a shared tragedy. No one included in the loss should be excluded from the possibility of reconciliation, whatever the shouters who wrongly insist that “3000 Americans died that day” have to say about it.
This past week we’ve had a look at some of Frye’s observations on fascism, and tomorrow is a couple of Hitler-related anniversaries, so tonight is a good time to post Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda extravaganza Triumph of the Will (with English subtitles).
Here’s another excerpt from Frye’s remarkable, unfinished 1943 essay, “The Present Condition of the World,” where he once again considers analogies between Nazi and North American society; in this case, the incidence of propaganda. As before, the relevance of these insights to current events is startling:
. . . .[R]eliance on sense experience emphasizes the receptive and passive aspects of the mind and minimizes its active and creative power. Hence America is a happy-hunting-ground of all forms of advertisement, propaganda, and suggestions. Advertising and “publicity” are based on the fact that sense experience is involuntary and on the assumption that the mind does not possess enough selective power to resist a large number of repeated impressions. The synthetic entertainment provided by the radio and the movies is based on the normality and predictability of the public responses to certain stimuli. Education is loaded with an apparatus of magical systems and methods which are supposed to inscribe significant patterns on the students’ tabula rasa. It is important, too, to notice what a superstitious belief the average American has in the power of Nazi propaganda over the German mind: that is, he thinks of it as a mysterious poison which has seeped into the brain and is now impossible to remove, rather than as an unnatural hysteria kept up artificially by a continuous external pressure. It is important too, especially in Canada, to notice how closely this passivity of mind is associated with political apathy, a tendency to think of the government, not as the paid officials of the people, or even as merely a few more average and indifferently honest Canadians, but as an anonymous “they,” a group of Norns who sit in Thule waging war and rationing coffee. There is much less of this in the United States, but the impact of peace may revive it; and if it does, the danger that propaganda in favour of democracy will be reversed to propaganda in favour of inspired leadership is by no means a mere intellectual’s nightmare. (CW 10, 212)
This is of course a terrible anniversary. Above is Michael Moore’s recounting of the seven minutes of silence which captures both the negligence and the ineptitude of the Bush administration on all fronts.
Remember: the administration’s national security team, Condoleeza Rice most especially, spent that entire spring and summer ignoring repeated and increasingly urgent warnings. As then FBI Director George Tenet put it, “The system was blinking red.” Just a month before the attacks, Bush dismissed his CIA briefers after being presented with the infamous August 6, 2001 President’s Daily Brief, saying, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass.”
What were the priorities of the Bush administration between January and September 11, 2001? More than a trillion dollars in tax cuts heavily favoring the richest 1% of the population. The convergence of those tax cuts and the events of 9/11 led directly to an unfunded “war on terror” which has left the U.S. staggered and a significant portion of its population on the verge of blind rage for the hardship that has befallen it.
This is why non-partisan reporting matters. You’d be unlikely to know any of this if your primary source of information were Fox News.
From Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Lawrence’s Women in Love
Today is D.H. Lawrence‘s birthday (1885-1930).
Frye on Lawrence in Denham’s Northrop Frye Unbuttoned:
God, I wish D.H. Lawrence had some sense of real satire: if he had he’d have been by long odds the greatest fiction writer of the century. (112)