(I'm not embedding the actual tweet because it's not my aim to open this person up to derision on a high traffic site.)
I remember responding. But either my memory is off or the tweet didn't go through because I can't find it in my stream. On its face it didn't make sense since I wasn't linking to anything; I was just having an exchange on twitter. But it's the deeper point I wanted to discuss.
The gist of my response was that not everyone lives in San Francisco, where the person in question lives. That if it wasn't for him, I totally understood. But that calling the discussion 'link bait' was offensive.
This was by any measure the most massive and spectacular terrorist attack pulled off ever. I keep thinking someone is going to remind me (and maybe you will) of something else that compares. But in terms of loss of life and physical and economic destruction, I don't think any single act comes close. Of course, this is not the only metric of horror. Tens or hundreds of thousand of people died in Balkans, now in Syria, in Iraq and countless other places. But it's its own thing and it's a very big thing in the history of this country, not to mention the individual lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. There's no question it's the big fact of American politics and culture of the 21st century thus far, both because of the initial fact itself and all the reaction it brought with it.
My own life was only lightly affected by the 9/11 attacks. I was living in DC at the time (moved here in 2004), reported from around the city that day and remember a palpable sense of fear and vulnerability staying in the city over the next several weeks. My future wife was literally under the Trade Center when the attacks happened. She worked in one of the adjoining buildings (the World Financial Center) and was in the subway as the attacks were occurring. The didn't stop the trains at the Trade Center station and let people off at the next stop south of the Trade Center complex. She started walking north toward the Trade Center and was there seeing bodies falling or jumping out of the buildings and all the rest of people who were right on the scene as it all happened but weren't physically injured in any way.
If you live in New York, 9/11 isn't just a national and international event. It's literally part of the geography of the city. And people from all around the city have intense memories of that day.
I can't get inside this tweeters head. At some level I think he was just being a jerk (something that's easy for even non-jerks to offhandedly do on Twitter because of the nature of the medium.) But I also know that for a some substantial part of the US population, there's another side to the 9/11 commemoration. I think it comes across as a once a year demand to emotionally and politically re-upp on the War on Terror and all the political and cultural baggage that comes with it. To put it in another way, I think some people feel like right sort of 'owns' 9/11. I'm not trying to speak for anyone. This is my sense. And though I don't feel it, I think I understand it. I get it. This is definitely a part - maybe a big part - of some commemorations.
I suspect some of this is influenced by geography. I know a woman who I would say has pretty radical politics - and very much so on US foreign policy and the 'War on Terror'. But she was only a mile or so away when the attacks happened. So for her it's a palpable, very big deal. Not just personally but about the deaths of thousands of people and the physical scarring of a city.
There's a lot more I could say about this. But I'd rather get responses because I don't want to cloud this issue by speculating. I suspect this is heavily cut across by geography, politics and simply different personalities and ways of experiencing the world. So give me your response. Twelve years out, what's your 9/11?