All Articles Tagged "terrorist attacks"
It has been called our generation’s Pearl Harbor. A series of four coordinated suicide attacks against targets in New York and Washington, D.C. would forever mark the beginning of a brave new world. Collectively we all watched as hijackers intentionally crashed two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93 would crash into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, preventing it from reaching its intended target in Washington, D.C. And at the end of the traumatic day, we mourned the lost of nearly 3,000 people.
Ten years later, the images of that day are forever seared into our minds. Even if we weren’t in New York, D.C. and Shanksville at the time, many of us saw the event in surreal fashion play out on television. For the thousands of family members and friends, who still think often of their lost ones, it will be a day they will never forget.
With the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 quickly approaching, it is very likely that television will replay, multiple times, the same videos of the mass death and destruction that we witnessed that horrific day in 2001. And already, many networks have scheduled a series of special programming centered on the tragedy, much of which has acted as a grand-buildup to the actual anniversary. For instance, the National Geographic Channel kicks off a week of 9/11 prime-time programming in late August with the special, George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview, a revealing account of the day’s horrors through the eyes of the former president. Following suite, the Smithsonian Channel will air “9/11: Day That Changed the World,” featuring stories from former Bush administration figures package Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and First Lady Laura Bush. On Sept. 10, Paul McCartney will reflect on 9/11 in the Showtime special called “The Love You Make.” Tomorrow, MSNBC will air a three-hour documentary hosted by Richard Engel and Rachel Maddow, examining how the country has changed over the past decade. And on Sept. 11, MSNBC again will repeat the “Today” episode, which caught the attacks happen in real time. And this is just a small sampling of programming we can look forward to.
The problem isn’t that we shouldn’t be thinking or remembering what happened. September 11th probably was the biggest event in American history in the last 50 years. Those events of that day served as a catalyst of major changes in how we view and live in this world. Because of the terrorist attacks, we saw the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which was the largest restructuring of the U.S. government in contemporary history. From that we got the US patriot act, heightened airport security and increased incidents of hate crimes and xenophobia against Middle-Easterns. We also saw a U.S.-led coalition begin the second-biggest operation of the U.S. Global War on Terrorism including two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the serious blows to the economy. Through the sharing of stories of this event comes the ability to heal and reflect on both the tragedies and the aftermath.
But we should also take note of how the networks, being businesses first, are in competition with one another. And as such, seek to capitalize most feverishly off the anniversary in order to attract viewers, even if it means recreating and replaying over and over again the graphic, painful images of plane crashes, fireballs, bodies falling from windows and buildings collapsing into smoldering heaps of rubble.
According to the New York Times, at least 10,000 firefighters, police officers and civilians exposed to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder, from which many of them have yet to recover . Likewise, the article points to a recent hospital survey, which suggest that in New York City alone, at least 10,000 patients have met the criteria of PTSD, depression and anxiety.
“They cannot sleep. They replay the disaster in their minds, or in their nightmares. They have trouble concentrating. They are jittery and overreact to alarms or loud noises. They feel helpless, hopeless, guilty and cut off from the people who are close to them. They avoid anything that reminds them of that terrible day.”
Yet as this anniversary approaches, we have to wonder how the incessant spectacle of 9/11-related television programming might compound the grief and add to the stress of those still suffering from the loss of security, safety and loved ones, who died violently during the tragedy.
Which is why I have chosen not to watch any of the programming this week. Not because I want to forget. The reality is that 9/11 was the most extraordinary event to happen in my short-lived lifetime. So even if I want to, I, along with many of us, won’t and can’t just put it behind us. However, 9/11-themed scripted television shows and the newly-released, never before seen footage of the crashes and explosions, which have also been making the rounds this week, add nothing more to the conversation nor does it help us make sense of the unimaginable or honor those, whose lives had been lost. Instead, the constant rehashing of these grim events only seems to keep us in a perpetual state of distress and trauma.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
Where black radicals used to refer to those who were willing to get vocal (or physical) in the name of the community, today it crosses a new spectrum –equal opportunity terrorism. Blacks have long had a tumultuous relationship with the American military system — from joining and being sent to the front lines of battle, to evading the draft as to keep from having to fight ”the white man’s war” and even to coming home from combat only to be lynched in uniform by the whites they were protecting — but rebellion against American policies and warfare has rarely been as aggressive as they are now. The aforementioned men were all targeting military related institutions, with the exception of the Christmas tree would-be bomber.
Has black frustration with America’s dirty deeds reached a level that would turn us into terrorists? Apparently.
“At one point, Mr. Abdul-Latif said, according to a government transcription of a recorded conversation: ‘We’re not only trying to kill people, we’re trying to send a message. We’re trying to get something that’s gonna be on CNN and all over the world,’” The New York Times reports.