by Isaac Butler
This was the first year since 2001 that I managed to get through the eleventh of September without being gripped by rage for hours. I think the trick was avoiding watching TV and having unfollowed the people who like to use those of us who were there like props for their own empathy dramas.
There's the trauma of the day itself, of course, and the first day they opened downtown to pedestrians, but I think the reason I find the whole thing so galling is that what I remember most vividly from the time was our country's rapid descent into a madness that still grips us, a madness that still controls the debate, that still limits that range of the possible. In many ways, Real Enemies is an autopsy of that madness, but it's an autopsy performed on a perpetual Lazarus who refuses to finally give up the ghost.
I am not a religious man, but I was raised in a faith whose ultimate teaching was that we must move through this world demonstrating love's ability to conquer fear. On September 11th, 2001, we saw many people do that, but as a nation, we failed in this task, and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have died as the result of this failure. The main people responsible for this continue to hold lucrative jobs, they continue to speak on television, they continue to be senior editors at the Atlantic, they continue to hold outsize influence on our foreign policy, they continue to set the terms of the debate. One of them will be the Democratic nominee for President.
I don't know what the way out of this is, but I don't think forcing 9/11 to solely mean a kind of noble, solemn grief, will get us there.