Sex and Other

Drugs and
Rock 'n' Roll

Media and

Society (and

Politics and Other


Casual Fridays

Rantings and

In and Out:
Sex Advice from our Staff Dominatrix

Employee of the



Who We Are

Write for Us!

Invest in Anti-

Play Our Theme Song
by Simon Inns
(MP3 format; 1.5 MB download)

Donate to the Cause!



One Year Hater


by Mistress Rowena



Can it really be that a year has passed? Have I lived one full year of my life since I watched thousands of people incinerated and pulverized? Saw it on live television, courtesy of CNN, even though it was happening so nearby I could see the smoke down the street. From candlelight vigils around the globe to the "president" speaking from Ground Zero, from emotional interviews with family members of those that perished to strident protesters who claim that more children die of starvation every day than were killed on 9/11, one is bombarded with the query, "What does this anniversary mean to you?"

Everyone's perspective is unique, of course, but most of us fit into a few categories that readily emerge. For the families and friends of the victims, it is a gut-wrenching milestone: a year without their loved ones. For those who escaped—it is difficult to imagine the mix of survivor guilt, revisited trauma and relief that must figure into their emotional state today. Time, I believe, flows differently for the rescue and recovery crews. They remained at the epicenter of the tragedy until May and are probably not even yet waking from the daily nightmare of their toil.

As we move further from the epicenter, the damage is less visible. The rhythm of life wasn't as disrupted. But is there less damage or is it hidden, structural? One perspective is that the world changed on September 11, 2001, and it will never be the same. What this belief refers to is a loss of innocence for Americans. We lost our terrorist virginity and will never feel invulnerable at home again. To stretch the metaphor, the foundation of our security has been irreparably cracked. It is easy to scoff at this view. What about Oklahoma City? Some citizens of countries, such as the UK and France, that have experienced terrorist bombings, think it's about bloody time that the U.S. got a taste of life without rubbish bins in public transport terminals. Some Americans never felt this newly-mythologized invulnerability, those in the "I-predicted-something-like-this-was-going-to-happen" camp. A few of those who prophesied in print have spent a lucrative year on the lecture circuit. But, justified or not, however naive, myopic and/or simplistic it may be, a significant swath of Americans fall into this category. You may not know any of them. I don't. But they are out there and they are struggling to make sense of a world that is more complex than they ever dreamed.

Another significant view holds that America got what it deserved. Our unilateral, relentlessly realpolitick foreign policy reaped what it sowed. It is from this perspective that some interesting theories about what the terrorists were after emerge. To this crowd, their act of extreme violence was essentially a cry for help. Political repression and a lack of economic opportunity are blamed on U.S. foreign policy and resentment is the inevitable result. Fuel that spark with the U.S.'s flagrant support of Israel and you have a recipe for the conflagration.

The administration's spin on the motivation of the terrorists is envy: They resent our freedoms. This message is pitched, of course, to deflect blame; no mention is made of U.S. policies in the Middle East as a contributing factor. "Don't bomb us; overthrow your own governments. We'll help you create democracies and capitalist economies so we can build Walmarts and McDonalds on your soil. We like new markets. Oh, but don't all change—we need a token enemy to justify the defense budget." This is where religion comes in. The terrorists don't just resent our civil organization; they deplore our freedom of worship. It is a lesson proved over and over historically that those who believe there is only one right way to live have no compunction about eliminating those who do not follow their path. The West is a threat to the Islamic world not by virtue of its political and economic policies (albeit those exacerbate it), but by its very existence. This conception of the attack is as an act of holy war. If the terrorists are ideologically, rather than politically, motivated, it absolves the U.S. of any obligation to change its policies. Short of converting the country to a theocracy under sharia law, nothing is going to placate them. Well, there is the thorny issue of Israel. A substantial shift in U.S. policy there might go a little way towards mollifying some factions. But it wouldn't affect the core infidels-must-die segment.

Yet the idea that policy changes are pointless against jihad is a bit of a cop-out. When you look at the historical circumstances which lead to fanaticism in religion, you come full circle back to economics. The poorer and more repressed people are, the larger role religion tends to play in their lives. (Marx and his opiate of the masses, anyone?) A big deal is made about the fact that the suicide pilots were not themselves poverty-striken illiterates but this is a red herring. Socio-economic opportunities are constrained in their countries and their repressive regimes have equipped them with the financial means but not the social tools to function in the outside world. Monotheistic religions, Christianity prime amongst them, see the world as a place of trial, the spirit warring with the flesh. What these religions ask of their followers is fundamentally unnatural. "Turn the other cheek" when every instinct in your body is primed to hit back. For believers, life is a brief dress rehearsal for the hereafter. Staying on the correct path to salvation is easiest when other roads are constrained. Tocqueville noted that the theological component of human nature contains a desire to know whereas the political component maintains a desire for freedom. Believing that you know, as radical monotheists of all stripes do, leads to dogmatism and repression. As Americans, we are familiar with this view from our Puritan heritage; moreover, we can see this attitude manifest today in radical right-wing Christians, such as those who want to bring the Christian God into the public schools. After all, if there is only one way to live, why have separation of church and state? Dissenters are to be brought into the fold or eliminated, not tolerated. It is not a coincidence that there is no tradition of a separation of church and state in Islamic culture and this is the first step for them to modernize.

But I digress. The objective here is to contemplate what this anniversary means on both individual and collective levels. I suspect a lot of Americans in general, and New Yorkers in particular, are struggling with this issue. We are accosted with media hype about its significance to such a numbing degree that it is difficult to step back and consider what, if anything, it means on a personal level. Economists have given up trying to parse out its effects on the economy. I find that refreshing, somehow. Human motivation is too complex to be completely quantifiable. The federal government is using the occasion to whip the country into jingoistic frenzy, with its rainbow of alert colours. Businesses are milking it to sell the accoutrements of the American dream (TM), playing on a supposed national need for reassurance and comfort. But do you need comfort? Are you still grieving? I think for a lot of us, this anniversary observance - and perhaps I am contributing to that with this piece—is awkward because we have succeeded in doing what we were urged to do since 9/12: get on with our lives. I need reassurance that the government isn't going to use this tragedy as an excuse to trample on my civil liberties. But that doesn't come from holding a candle in the park or buying an NYPD hat.



9.11 Thoughts? Send us e-mail at

Posted September 11, 2002 2:53 AM






Copyright 2001-2010
Powered by
Movable Type 3.33
Logo design by Molitorious