Tom Engelhardt’s Al-Jazeera Op-Ed Column: "Let’s Forget 9/11" & "Remove it From Our Collective Consciousness"

Is it time for us to stop commemorating the terrorist attacks on September 11th? Apparently Tom Engelhardt, a fellow at the liberal-leaning The Nation Institute and a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, would like us to do just that. In an op-ed on, he said it’s time for the United States to “bag” remembrance of the September 11 attacks. Does he really think that’s fair to all those people who lost their lives in those unspeakable acts of violence? What about the family members left to grieve the demise of their loved ones at the hands of terrorists? Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed:

Let’s bag it.

I’m talking about the tenth anniversary ceremonies for 9/11, and everything that goes with them: the solemn reading of the names of the dead, the tolling of bells, the honouring of first responders, the gathering of presidents, the dedication of the new memorial, the moments of silence. The works.

Let’s just can it all. Shut down Ground Zero. Lock out the tourists. Close “Reflecting Absence”, the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday. Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012. Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States”. (Estimated price tag: $3.3bn.) Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists. Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11bn government-sponsored construction programme. Let’s get rid of it all. If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven’t we had enough of ourselves? If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness? No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror. No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money. No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.

It is absolutely amazing at the how little regard people like Tom Engelhardt have for the victims of these attacks. We commemorate a whole hosts of events that brought pain and suffering to innocent Americans, so why take offense to 9/11? No matter what your political affiliation or ideology, it is just plain wrong to ask or even entertain any thoughts of obliterating the events of 9/11 from our memories. You just can’t wipe it out of your mind. What he wrote is far more destructive and divisive than the mess Paul Krugman wrote in his short column. I agree that both the Republicans and Democrats have publicized this tragedy ad nauseam, but is it fair to ask Americans to forget and wipe it from our collective consciousness?