Sunday, September 11, 2011

Random Notes on 9/11

My only trip to New York City was in June 2000, a special 40th birthday sojourn with my best friend since middle school to see Bruce Springsteen play at Madison Square Garden. I flew out of San Francisco on the Thursday night red-eye flight, landing at JFK early in the morning. The concert was Friday night and I didn’t have to fly back home until Sunday morning, so we had plenty of time to wander the city, although in a city with the magnificent scope of New York City, you can barely scratch the surface in two days. My wife had bought me a couple of instant cameras for the trip, and I happily snapped my way across the city. One of these photos was taken from the apartment where we stayed during the weekend, and the other was taken on a walk north, up from Greenwich Village, towards Times Square.

From Mark Evanier’s blog “News From Me” (which I highly recommend), I learned of the September 11 Television Archive, which includes links to the live network coverage from that day. Watching the NBC coverage from that morning, I was quickly able to come up with one answer to the question “what has changed in our lives since that day?” The initial coverage came from Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on The Today Show, and from the onset their utter confusion was clearly evident. Even after the second plane struck the World Trade Center, there was incredulity that what was happening could be a planned attack. At one point, Couric makes a statement along the lines of “something must be wrong with air traffic control.” That sounds utterly silly today, and I don’t point it out to make fun of Couric but simply to make the point that before 9/11, no one assumed that disasters were the result of terrorism. Contrast that to what happened earlier this week in San Diego, when conversations around something as simple as a massive power outage (and I use that term loosely, and not to under-estimate the significance of that event) were framed around the possibility of whether the event was a terrorist attack.

Paul Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist, has a brief piece up on his blog today that is almost certain to make him the most hated man in America – at least for today. Titled “The Years of Shame,” Krugman seeks to make the point that what happened following 9/11 was shameful. That is a legitimate subject for dialogue, but the way Krugman goes about making the argument is utterly shameful in and of itself. First, he begins the column by asking, “Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?” Well, let’s see – we’re paying tribute and remembering people who lost their lives, some innocent victims and others heroes who sought to help those in distress. Isn’t “subdued” the appropriate way to pay tribute to those people? Krugman’s premise is utterly nonsensical.

But it is the way Krugman closes his column that I find so offensive:

“I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.” [emphasis added]

This is a classic case of someone trying to have it both ways. Introduce a concept that is certain to be unpopular, and then essentially turn off the mike, and leave the room. Now that is shameful, not to mention utterly cowardly.

Always remember.

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