A Tense Anniversary

I always try to avoid the hype surrounding the 9/11 anniversary. That’s in no way meant to disrespect the lives lost in 2001, or the subsequent suffering of those left behind. Perhaps my feelings about the date would be more in tune if I had lost someone close to me in the attacks. But as it is, I tend to see all of the “we will never forget” and flag waving sentiments as gross patriotic masturbation. Sorry – kick me out of the country, if you must.

It seems like Americans do forget something on 9/11 (and perhaps year-round). We’re not the only ones with a death toll. About 3,000 people died as a result of the September 11th attacks. After a quick google search, I learned that more than 3,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan alone in just the first six months of 2010. And since 2003, more than 100,000 civilians have died in Iraq. Every life counts. So I’m not saying the importance of the American lives lost is diminished by the number of those lost overseas. But why does it seem like American suffering trumps that of all others – especially when September comes around? I wouldn’t mind so much if Americans ever acted like they gave a damn about anyone else. But I don’t see much of that.

And this year the September 11th hype is so much more. With the mosque/Islamic community center controversy and this clown starting the public Qur’an burning nonsense, this year’s 9/11 anniversary seems to be clouded by hatred and tension more than anything – at least in the news. It all seems so absurd.

The nastiness of it all has made me pleased that I’m taking a break from this country. People are more sane in other countries, right? Wrong.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at some Dutch headlines relating to September 11th in the U.S. I still don’t know which one is the most mainstream paper in the Netherlands. But across all the papers I read, it seems like Dutch sentiments are just as split, and in some cases twisted as Americans. And just like Americans, some Dutch people have trouble minding their own business and have decided to get involved with issues that don’t relate to them.

The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, is one of those who’s having trouble minding his own business. I’ve mentioned him in an earlier post. But to spare you the trouble of reading that all over again (although I’m sure it was riveting the first time through), he’s an uber conservative who’s pretty close to being a part of the next coalition government. Although Wilders’ politics are extreme, for some reason he gained enough momentum in the recent June election to make him less than marginal. Doesn’t bode well for the Dutch, as far as I’m concerned.

So anyway, Wilders has hopped on a plane to come to NYC to participate in and speak at one of the protests against the Islamic community center by the WTC site. He was invited by a group called Stop Islamization of America (I haven’t even bothered to investigate what they’re about). Apparently he’s so strongly opposed to the plan, and Islam in general, that he felt compelled to be here to vocally protest. I’m all for free speech. But c’mon, man. Just stay home.

Wilders at Ground Zero. Photo courtesy of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Fortunately, Wilders doesn’t represent all Dutch people. In fact polls indicate only 20 percent of Dutch people supported Wilders’ participation in today’s protest. But 41 percent were neutral and only 39 percent were opposed to his craziness. That’s not enough opposition for me.

So leaving the U.S. for the Netherlands will not mean leaving behind conservative and sometimes hateful politics. They’re just everywhere…and apparently willing to travel as much as I am.

In spite of all that, my heart sincerely goes out to every single person affected by the September 11th attacks and subsequent violence, here and overseas. I hope at some point we’ll see that none of these losses, none of the pain, and none of the hateful words and exchanges have been worth it. At some point it has to end.

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3 thoughts on “A Tense Anniversary

  1. What a controversial subject, to comment on in times of utter despair and sensationalism in the U.S.of A. While you only briefly touched on the 5 minutes of fame, some priest had to gain (maybe a shortage of kids to molest?) you also look into approval ratings and how they may or may not affect the minds of the people you are about to meet, even though approval ratings don’t mean much in today’s political circus, otherwise they would all step down and go golfing. That’s stereotypical, is it not? Haha! Then, you somehow make the connection between conservatism and hate and how someone could, or would maybe want to kick you out of the country. Go on a little journey with me, through the United (!) States. What we experience today is nothing but sensation. Mainstream media and it’s tried and proven followers have created an environment of extremely short-lived fame, upset and anger. Everything is picked up, in desperate hopes to get more advertising dollars, clicks or attention. We have challenged flight attendants jumping on their passengers, priests burning another religious groups book of wisdom and creeps getting a lot of attention for renting a house close to Americas most wanted woman, who enjoys a view on Prussia (or so?)! The media can count on their blurbs to be transmitted worldwide, instantly, oftentimes causing outrage before the news actually spread. People light their pants on fire and scream offense left and right. As a personality leaning (leaning does not equal extremism) towards conservative views, I often could, but rarely do pay attention to political correctness. Why? Because your average fellow citizen is just as much a middle of the road type of guy or gal as you are. People generally attempt to apply common sense and reason. Only extremists and people who need the fame will bite on to a subject and shake it like a crazy terrier. (No offense to all the fine terrier dog owners out there – please do not start to burn stuff!) Do we discriminate based on politics? No! We only allow it to the press, and politicians seeking attention, money or both and therefore fly towards any light that could closely resemble a camera setting or cause outrage, because outrage is the new “mission accomplished” word. In fact, I wonder how we don’t hit more of these politicians, at night on the highway, with all these bright lights? They must be all sitting inside watching Conan Oh Whoever, looking to see if any of the limelight show hosts may have deemed one of their dumb statements wirthy of mention. If we all got offended easily, my door would have a crossed out (D) or maybe a flaming (R). I would have to ask my law professor if he was a democrat, republican or maybe even a independent, and then make a big deal out of stumping out of the classroom in utter, heartfelt offense with a buddy filming it for youtube. Way to much work! My tip, against all the confusion in today’s press and politics idiocy carousel? Grab a copy of your favorite countries constitution. Read it. Read it one more time and then put it away. Go out in the sun or rain and meet your fellow citizens. Watch an old couple work their way through your favorite park, or simply go around and watch people live their lives. Do they scream at each other? If yes, you live in the wrong neighborhood. Do they burn stuff on the road in protest? If yes, you are learning about the end of civilization. If no to all the above, walk by them and see if they will look at you as if you are an alien when you smile at them. If they don’t, chances are you are surrounded by a few sane people, who have not become representative or their representatives or lost their minds. By leaving religion and politics out of the conversation with them, chances are there ain’t going to be any anger. Put a big plastic $$ sign on your computer or TV and ask yourself every time why exactly you are looking at this nonsense. It is aimed at dividing this country further and further, not much else. Controversy sells. We have not regressed back to the stone age (yet) and if you ask me, with a little common sense we won’t any time soon. The Netherlands is no different, you will find. Phew…

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    • Thanks for this intense comment :-)! I have a few thoughts…but I’ll try to keep it focused. First, I’m not really talking or thinking about the politicians and fame monsters. I agree with you – if we only listened to them, we’d be nowhere and know nothing. But what concerns me is these people are elected and supported. With 20% support in the Netherlands, Wilders isn’t so much an extremist. Rather, he has a fifth of the population agreeing with him. And although I don’t equate all conservative views with hate, his conservative views (and the views of his supporters) are drenched in hate…the scary kind. I’m glad they’re not in the majority. But it’s clear to me that I will not be putting race, gender, and faith discrimination behind me when I leave this country.

      As for normal people when I walk down the street…I wish I could say I could answer “no” to most of your questions. But unfortunately, I do live in the wrong neighborhood and on the wrong block. My neighbors fight and yell on a daily basis. And just yesterday, as I was limping across the street (still recovering from my spine surgery) in front of a man waiting in his car, he says rudely, “damn, could you walk any slower?” So yeah, they’re not making the news, but they’re asshole-ishness is just as offensive, if not more, than those politicking people in the headlines.

      No sure what my point was. But hopefully you get my drift!

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  2. Haha! I figured you would have suffered a mild concussion from slamming your head onto the table trying to read and make sense out of my lengthy, boring response. I do get your drift, agree at large with the statement that they are “elected and supported” (quite well in fact) and I agree strongly with your assessment of race, gender and faith discrimination. Quite a shame, but unfortunately a trait that comes with… oh, well, maybe you can email me (look deep into the comments feature of your blog, it is there) and I may share this little tidbit of opine :)Lets say this much: “black – girl – almost gone”, is is not so far away from “white – boy – still here”. The neighborhood can be exchanged against a better one. Funky – raw – rude people in big cars and big mouthed attitudes can be ignored to death, or pepper sprayed if need be, however – sometimes a change in scenery, even if only temporarily, can open gates that inspire the mind and calm the soul. 😉

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