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.



  1. In China’s New York, Twin Towers Still Standing
    • China’s World Park, built in 1993, contains replicas of major cities around the world. New York is represented complete with the Empire State Building and…the Twin Towers, still. And at least one person is mad. [Curbed]





  2. I saw this with (((boyfriend))) and we were both really offended. Thousands of people died, and it shouldn’t be an opportunity to make more money. When I was going to college I worked at a chain corporate type restaurant as a bartender. It was 9/11/2004 and my manager wanted to feature our Stars&Stripes margarita (it originally came out on 7/4 and was very popular)(as you can imagine, it was red, white and blue layers). Anyway, my manager said since it was the anniversary of 9/11 we should be able to push these. Everyone was stunned, but I was very angry, and told him that wasn’t appropriate and I would refuse to sell any of them unless someone asked for it specifically. As soon as I finished speaking, everyone chimed in and said the same thing, they wouldn’t sell any of them. The manager apologized and admitted he had been callous, and then he changed our special to something else 🙂

    By the way, McCain won’t cash in on 9/11, he’s going to cash in on his time as a POW. Real classy.

  3. I think this is just the latest (and possibly the tackiest) in a long string of kitsch that’s tried to profit from 9/11. I have a vague memory of seeing porcelain “collectibles” based on the firemen raising a flag at Ground Zero. Unfortunately, for everyone of us who’s offended, there’s going to be someone else who doesn’t get it. Let’s face it — companies wouldn’t sell this crap if there wasn’t a market for it.

  4. I find invading Iraq, the Plame scandal, Gitmo, wiretapping, the Patriot Act and all the other things we know and don’t know that this administration has done to “commemorate” 9/11 far worse than a coin.

  5. Philly: agreed. I’m not surprised that I am offended by those ‘commemorations’ — making a profit off of a crime (especially a political profit) is definately far worse than a silver greenback from Liberia. I am not surprised when a right wing asshat tries to profit from that attack. I was surprised, though, at my visceral reaction to this two-bit profiteering (lets face it — a Liberian $20.00 bill is probably worth about $.50, right?). This post was more a way for me to work through WHY I was offended. I was not claiming that commemoriative shit is worse than political fear-mongering: both are done for profit, but the political uses of 9/11 have been far more destructive than any commemorative could be. Hell, the political uses of 9/11 have done far more damage to America and the world than the original attack.

  6. Close…it’s worth 31 cents US. So, not only is it offensive, it’s purposefully misleading and arguably criminal. They say they’re offering the “certificate” at it’s face value, $20, but they don’t tell you that $20LIB is worthless. You’re getting 31 cents worth of silver tin foil.

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