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Still Not Over It

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On September 11, I usually just leave a photo, mention I'm still not over it, and say nothing else. But twelve years after the terrorist attacks upon the innocent people, mostly but not solely Americans, on planes, in New York City and in Washington D.C., I'd like to say why I'm not over it.

I'm not over it because I have deliberately kept a little flame of hurt alive in my heart in memory of 2,977 innocent people. And I word it that way because somewhere (probably online) I saw a T-shirt reading "I'm so over 9/11," like that was something to be proud of.

I'm not over it because I saw the towers fall, albeit the way most of us saw the towers fall, on television. I, however, saw it in public. Skiving off work, and envious of my then-boyfriend who was on a bicycle trip starting at Somerset County, PA, I went to the central public library. The library had a row of televisions hanging near the ceiling, and a rather large crowd of people had gathered to stare at them. So I did, too.

When the first tower fell, I started to cry. I did not think "Oh well, people across the world suffer, too. Oh well, time the U.S. learned what it is like. Oh well, blah blah blah." I thought that thousands of people were dying, horribly, right before my eyes. Mostly people who were Americans, like my dad. 

There's a fair amount of anti-American feeling in Canada; it's considered kind of cool and perhaps even necessary. But it all evaporated on 9/11. In Montreal, on 9/11, my brother overheard a French-Canadian youth say something like "Who cares? They're Americans" and the crowd around telling him to shut the heck up.

I think it is natural to feel sympathy with those closest to you, in terms of family, or neighbourhood, or ethnicity, or culture. It is meritorious to feel sympathy with people who have absolutely nothing in common with you, save humanity, but I don't think it is meritorious to trample all over your own to hug the exotic stranger. So I have no problem saying that my sympathies are more with ordinary Western people getting on planes or going to work than with, say, Afghan villagers. Also, I care more about Middle Eastern Christians than I do about Middle Eastern Muslims simply because they are Christians. Sue me. Most of the world isn't ashamed to put their own first; why should I be?

The invasion of Iraq annoyed me, and I'm proud Canada didn't get pulled into that, but 9/11 really hurt. 7/7 hurt, too, although with less intensity. The 2006 discovery that some young Toronto-area Muslims had tried to collect materials to blow up innocent Torontonians, sent me through the roof. I was in Germany at the time, and two days after my visit to Cologne, Muslim engineering students tried to blow up a train from Cologne. That also made me mad.

It made me so mad, I cannot think about Germany without thinking about Islamic terrorism. This is why my novel set in Germany is about Islamic terrorism. But because of whoever they are who are "so over 9/11", it is also about Western complacency.

I don't think we can afford to be complacent. Freedom isn't free, and Western Civilization will not continue just 'cause. We have a guarantee that the gates of hell will never prevail against Christ's Church, but Christ's Church seems to be doing a lot better in Africa and Asia these days. Whereas of course I love Christ and His Church best, I am also fond of European-founded Western Civilization, and currently it is under threat not only from the kind of people who hate music, kites and portraits but from, not to put too fine a point on it, stinking traitors and ignoramuses.

Update: Oriana Fallaci's The Rage and the Pride. Read it at least once in your life. It's by the bravest, noisiest European woman writer to survive the 20th century.