Reflecting on 9/11: My Other Lost Cause

From a letter to a friend:
They’re talking and talking about the 20th observances for the 11th,
with Biden going nonstop,
and there’s an article in the Times or somewhere
about a bunch of the books which supposedly show
all the ways we totally screwed up the impact & aftermath of all that.
Which is all true enough,
But I can’t bear to read it, though I have read a stack of such titles.
And I don’t want to hear all that retriggering retraumatizing stuff on Saturday, or today either,
Tho I know they have to do it.
I think I’m going to hide out that day.
Oh wait — I’m already hiding out. So where do I go from here?

But there’s still one memory I think I can bear,
And it’s the one in the picture, and the other ones like it.
Because it means that goddamit,
We few spoke up about that, the inside betrayal that cut to
The heart of things
Our bumper sticker. Could hardly give them away.
So close that almost nobody could bear to speak or hear of it, as you and I learned so well over those years:
My motto still is, “A meeting about that was the surest way to draw a crowd . . .
Somewhere else.”
But we kept shouting into the wind of unthinking mass deaf denial,
intentional coverup and
The unending insult of impunity.
We shouted til we went hoarse,
Until time’s goons came after us, as they do for everyone.
There are a few others left, I hear the echoes of their pleas,
Like the faint squeaks of an unoiled door in a not-quite abandoned building
Behind a Gitmo fence, listing open and slamming shut as the tropical/political winds kick up and shift.
Those metallic echoes may be the last thing like voices heard by the old men still buried alive somewhere deep inside.
I hope their Allah gives them some peace or rest,
Like he gave them back Afghanistan.
Which come to think, is more than we could do for them,
And maybe for ourselves as well.
A protest array hung on the fence enclosing the offices of Aero Contractors, and the hangar for its “torture taxis,” near Smithfield North Carolina, October 2007. Despite our bravado, the sad truth is the U. S. government & citizenry have done almost a complete job of hiding torture, at least from them/ourselves. The rest of the world, not so much.

3 thoughts on “Reflecting on 9/11: My Other Lost Cause”

  1. I’m just now getting to know Facebook. I’m 92 and am awkward with all thing electronic. To have this column leap out at me is a kick! I’ve found you, Chuck abrasive but scrupulously honest. I met you in 1984.

    Chuck, please tell me if I’m wrong: I KNEW on Sept. 11 that Bush and Cheney had brought us the bombers in order to gain oil in the Middle East. I lost the last bits of trust in my government and have gone on with many other projects since–a Community Center with skill-training shops in Mexico, Braver Angels and Women in Black in Oregon, etc. But I’ve lived with a broken heart. I was such a patriotic kid, distracted wife and mother, intense graduate student, passionate peace pilgrim, eager art therapist/community organizer that I just buried my intuitive conviction that our leaders designed 9-11 for their benefit. I will deeply appreciate your response.

    1. Hi Marybeth,
      Great to hear from you!
      You say you appreciate my honesty, and I must honestly tell you I don’t know many (or maybe most) of the secrets of the 9/11 attacks. I do know there are many of them, and strongly suspect some will be shocking to even some of us who think we’ve been as shocked as we can be. Certainly many of our “leaders” have turned the wars that followed into endless sources of private profiteering.

      I’m grateful to hear you didn’t let these shocks stop you; but I understand about the personal cost of living with that broken heart. I came from a military family myself, and while not super-patriotic, I certainly believed for a long time the USA was always on the side of right, and despite shortcomings was the leader for freedom, etc., etc. Losing those many illusions and facing the cascade of lies was a lengthy, agonizing ordeal, one which is not over.
      Of course, there were lies and illusions to face as a Quaker too. But after I realized Friends were no better than others, yet still had our own work to do, individually and together, doing the parts I could has brought some relief and meaning, if not much worldly success. Now it’s time for our generation to make a record of our labors, and pass them on to those who will come later. (If we have faith that there will be a “later,” which I go back & forth on; maybe you understand that?)
      At 92 you may be slowing down (at 78, I am), but I’ll try to follow your example. I once had a tee shirt emblazoned with the motto, “Wear out, Don’t Rust Out.” If it wasn’t a Quaker who said that, it should have been.
      If you found my post meaningful, please pass it on. Stay safe, and keep busy!

      Chuck Fager

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