Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paul Krugman Notices an Oddity of 9/11

Here is a post by Paul Krugman on his NY Times blog:
The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
Paul Krugman takes a lot of flak for telling things as he sees them. He is courageous and modest, and he has stayed in the fight despite being ignored and hated. To me, he is like an Old Testament prophet: reviled in his own land, but one day he will be recognized for his honest, heroic, and prescient stand. He's been dead right on almost every issue.

Meanwhile, for comic relief, there is Michael Moore who has done much to publicize problems and wrongs, but who can't resist putting his own ego front and centre. If you want to read something that is 180o out from Krugman's quiet stance, read this article by Michael Moore where he turns the focus off the big issue and instead focuses on "me, me, me". I like Michael Moore but I don't like his narcissistic egotism. Krugman stays at his post focused on the issues, while Michael Moore makes sure he is in the shot when he does a documentary or writes up the injustice or tragedy with his own ego front and centre. I prefer the quiet hero.

As for 9/11... here is a post by Barry Ritholtz at his The Big Picture blog that best captures my opinion about the way the media is milking the situation:
Relentless Media Hype

I’ve already had my say about what happened 10 years ago. I do not feel a compelling need to revisit it again and again and again.

MSNBC is replaying their September 11, 2001 broadcast; the WSJ made their entire 9/12 paper available online. Other outlets are doing similar “tributes” if thats the right word.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but the relentless 9/11 coverage and tributes feels both ghoulish and exploitative. Sorry, but this is simply too much, I’ve had more than I can take of this. I do not care to spend the entire day crying, but if I watch any more of this coverage that is what will happen.

To those people who can find some consolation in this, I wish you well. Its a macabre spectacle to me. I need to find something more joyous and upbeat.
Between narcissistic egoism and bathetic maudlinism and commercial exploitation, I'm finding early September to be the doldrums of the year.

Update 2011sep12: Here is an added post by Paul Krugman on his NY Times blog that gives his thoughts about the exploitation of 9/11:
More About the 9/11 Anniversary

It looks as if I should say a bit more about yesterday’s anniversary. So:

The fact is that the two years or so after 9/11 were a terrible time in America – a time of political exploitation and intimidation, culminating in the deliberate misleading of the nation into the invasion of Iraq. It’s probably worth pointing out that I’m not saying anything now that I wasn’t saying in real time back then, when Bush had a sky-high approval rating and any criticism was denounced as treason. And there’s nothing I’ve done in my life of which I’m more proud.

It was a time when tough talk was confused with real heroism, when people who made speeches, then feathered their own political or financial nests, were exalted along with – and sometimes above – those who put their lives on the line, both on the evil day and after.

So it was a shameful episode in our nation’s history – and it’s one that I can’t help thinking about whenever we talk about 9/11 itself.

Now, I should have said that the American people behaved remarkably well in the weeks and months after 9/11: There was very little panic, and much more tolerance than one might have feared. Muslims weren’t lynched, and neither were dissenters, and that was something of which we can all be proud.

But the memory of how the atrocity was abused is and remains a painful one. And it’s a story that I, at least, can neither forget nor forgive.

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