In cinema last week, I saw a preview for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center film. And I thought it was a sickening piece of rubbish. Just the background music in the trailer, making it feel like your average TV drama, seems to make fun of the fact that actual people have actually died in the process. And then some woffling about this being the worst thing ever happening suggests a lack of perspective.
Yes, seeing those towers burn and collapse on TV was dramatic back in 2001 and left everybody in disbelief. Personally, I thought I had switched into a rerun of some crappy catastrophe film and it took me a while to realise that ‘BBC News Live’ was written on screen and that this was real and serious. It surely must have been tragic for the the friends and families of those who died. Luckily I wasn’t one of them.
Which in turn makes it easy for me to watch this from a distance. And from here, away from the personal tragedy, I find it hard to see the death of thousands of people in North America as something more tragic than the death of similar numbers of people in other parts of the planet. The attack on the people may have been more overt and ‘terroristic’ at the World Trade Center than watching people die in other parts of the world is, but the result still is the same – for those who died at least.
On the other hand, those who died in New York did get a lot of more press coverage and they had to serve as an excuse for all the disgraces that our governments – particularly the U.S. one – have brought over us since in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, something that sounds simple but which most, if not all, people cannot even define clearly.
And with that our governments did a great step to help the ‘terrorist agenda’ – if that exists – to reduce the freedom and quality of life of people in ‘the West’. It may be a tiny detail, but I was shocked to see people – you know those smart business types, who are all about image and style – willingly put off their shoes so those could be X-rayed at the airport security checks. There were signs saying you might have to do that, but I passed just fine in my shoes, thanks a lot. A strange first thing to see when arriving in the
land of the free (where you’d rather expect people to argue with the officials about being allowed to take their guns on the plane).
Of course that’s just a tiny personal observation which completely ignores the more substantial problems like the illegal invasion of countries or abductions and imprisonment of people. But I thought it gave a hint on the societal developments that went with the attacks. People being scared into bending over more and more and let the ‘nanny state’ (or better ‘daddy state’ in this case?) reign at its will and ‘take care’ of things. They even re-elected their moronic president who does his best to alienate the rest of the world and attract more enemies and attacks.
Offering a more varied view, arte broadcast 11’09”01, a collection of short films from around the world treating the date and the events. While not all of them were great, the film does a great job in showing that on the one hand people all around the world are willing to share the grief of the Americans but that on the other hand there are plenty of other and potentially larger tragedies which may be even more important for people.
Perspective is relative.
An even wider perspective suggests that history is replete with nations being led by those who have brought tragedy and ruin to their countries… yet the people have managed to survive it. As to whether the USA can survive its current leadership will likewise be determined in time.
So no, thousands of people dying in New York is no more tragic than thousands of people dying elsewhere in the world due to reprehensible acts of violence… but I don’t think it is any less tragic either.
I’m pretty sure the USA will survive this. People have survived worse. Still it seems that the country isn’t living to its full potential. And that’s a shame.
On a personal level the tragedy is the same for sure.
Somehow I feel that we bear more responsibility for people starving, dying more or less needlessly somewhere ‘far away’ just so we can have cheap clothes or toys. This may be hard to pin down but we seem to be much more in a situation to stop their problems and improve their lives than we are in a situation where we can stop some terrorists. (Or at least making ourselves less attractive targets for terrorists seems to be much harder, if not impossible.)