This Shouldn’t Surprise Me, But . . .8 July, 2008
This really shouldn’t surprise me, but it still does. We are, after all, a capitalist country. If something will sell, someone will sell it.
I turned on Spike TV to watch some CSI reruns with (((Wife))). The show is fun, and not too offensive. The problem with a minor cable network is advertisements. In this case, one that I found offensive.
Liberia is releasing a $20 dollar Liberan coin certificate in silver to celebrate (sorry, commemorate) the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. On one side, it shows the New York City skyline with the twin towers standing. On the other, the New York City skyline with the new ‘Liberty Tower’ in place. It’s even already discounted. Apparently it has now been long enough since the attacks that cheesy commemoration has become acceptable.
My gut reaction was one of surprise. Specifically, offended surprise. Then I had to start wondering: why does this offend me? I think of myself as a rather open-minded person. I have nothing, generally, against capitalism. I understand the necessity of commercials. So why do I feel offended?
It was a gut reaction. Oddly, though, the same gut reaction comes about every single time anyone attempts to make a profit from this crime. Or any crime. Doesn’t matter if it’s an alarm company making hay out of a local crime. Doesn’t matter if it’s a politician using the memory to argue against civil rights. Doesn’t matter if it’s a right winger using the memory of that day to argue that all Muslims should die (yes, I have (sad to say) had that conversation). Part of my upbringing (of course, this was a liberal atheistic upbringing) included this bizaare idea that no one should make a profit from a crime.
The other part of it is, how many of these profiteers were there? I got called on the 13th and was sent down to New York City for three weeks to provide security for the Incident Management Team which supported the search and rescue teams. I spent three weeks checking IDs, searching trucks for bombs, and wondering.
I’m not trying to say that my service down in NYC (and on multiple occasions to ground zero) gives me any special rights. It doesn’t make me special. But (whether justified or not, whether I have the right or not) it offends me at a gut level (not an intellectual one) when people do this.
I am a rationalist and a naturalist. I seek rational and non-supernatural explanations for events. It bugs me that I have this irrational and unreasonable reaction. It bugs me, but I can live with it.
How many more times will people use the events of 9/11 to make a profit (material or political)? I cringe at the upcoming campaign. I have a sinking suspicion that the McCain campaign will use the terrorist attacks to scare us. My question for the McCain campaign is: “What did you do after 9/11 to help?” And advancing Bush’s attack on personal rights is not helping. Blocking health screening for rescue workers is not helping. Implying that Bush’s political opponents are unpatriotic or even traitors is not helping.
To me, the right-wing’s use of 9/11 and it’s memories for political gain is actually more offensive than the Liberian mint’s 9+11=20 joke currency. The only thing that Liberia is trying to do is get some US dollars (they should insist on being paid in Euros, though). The right wing, though, will try to scare Americans into voting for an authoritarian candidate so thoroughly sold out to big business that the middle class doesn’t stand a chance.