This weekend, expect to be deluged by a sea of violent images: the towers burning, falling, the planes impacting, and probably a series of images even more disturbing, which I won’t link to or even name. We’ll agonize over rumors, look over our shoulders, and in many respects maintain the last decade’s focus on the past, and on loss.
It’s time to put all that aside. We can’t deny that the nation suffered that day almost ten years ago; nor the little, routinized tragedies that followed on its coat-tails. But it’s long past time to put this decade in perspective, and put it away. In many ways, we’ve let ourselves get distracted from our mission as a nation, and lost track of our priorities. Our initial, hyperpartisan reaction — the real legacy of 9/12 and the ensuing week, and one that continues still in novel forms — converted a tragedy that could’ve bound us together into one that has torn us apart.
Time to move on. The America that killed Osama Bin Laden should also be the America that killed his dream, and finally bound up the wounds we let him open. We’ve survived in form, but now it’s time to survive in substance. Put away the disaster porn and the bloody shirt, question the measures we’ve claimed were necessary for a “post-9/11” world, and substitute Tony Blair’s reminder of the vital importance of wartime multiculturalism for our own (e.g.). Make this Saturday more like Pearl Harbor Day — we were hurt, we fought back, we won, we remained ourselves. This last item, especially, will be cause to celebrate.