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Faludi on 9/11 and American Mythology

Posted on Sep 7, 2007
Bush at Ground Zero

Icons of our time:  President Bush man-hugs a firefighter at Ground Zero in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Journalist and author Susan Faludi is back with another book, “The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America,” an ambitious look into the formative mythology, driving forces and fears of the U.S.‘s national psyche.  According to Faludi’s excerpt in Friday’s New York Times, the country’s post-9/11 mindset is reminiscent of another distinctive period in American history.

The New York Times:

Sept. 11 cracked the plaster on that master narrative of American prowess because it so exactly duplicated the terms of the early Indian wars, right down to the fecklessness of our leaders and the failures of our military strategies. Like its early American antecedents, the 9/11 attack was a homeland incursion against civilian targets by non-European, non-Christian combatants who fought under the flag of no recognized nation. Like the “different type of war” heralded by President Bush, the 17th and 18th century “troubles”—as one Puritan chronicler of Metacom’s Rebellion called them, refusing to grant them “the name of a war”—seemed to have no battlefield conventions, no constraints and no end.

Unfortunately, by replicating the Colonial war on terrorism, 9/11 invited us to re-enact the post-Colonial solution, to bury our awareness of our vulnerability under belligerent posturing and comforting fantasy.

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By FrostedFlakes, September 9, 2007 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I know it’s not popular to say, but let’s not forget that America is the true original terrorist state. Ever heard of the Boston Tea Party? Economic terrorism. Slavery? Unimagineable terrorism of peoples of a distant land. Manifest Destiny? Domestic terrorism of indigenous peoples. Jim Crow Laws? Legal terrorism of a once enslaved population. So don’t be so quick to villify and condemn others without researching why America is losing world respect.

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By cyrena, September 7, 2007 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

#99250 by Purplewolf,

Ya hit the bull’s-eye again, my friend…with this:

•  ...“If you constantly let fear rule your life and keep you from doing anything and then let “the protector”, come in to keep you safe and at the same time take away all of your rights,as is happening now,you have already lost.Or you can “TUNE THEM OUT” and go about doing what you need to do. Need the government to protect you? Good luck.”...

Because, that’s the bottom line best advice, in dealing with a myth. TUNE IT OUT, when it has nothing to do with reality, and/or our own ultimate well-being. If anything, the myths have been leading many Americans right over a cliff, in the backseat, with Dick Bush at the wheel. And, more and more folks, (carloads and carloads) are disappearing over the cliff, or down into the rabbit hole, not so much as a direct result of the myth, but in trickle down sorts of ways…too complicated for me to tackle now.

But, at the end of the day, there is a national psyche that has clearly been established as a result of this administration. Now, this administration started their whole thing off with a pretty spectacular ‘bang’ (9-11) and they have continued to build and expand on that, over these past 6 years. So, if we make the connection there, it might be easier to see the “national effect” of 9/11 in that context.

That said, I DO think you’re right about how different areas of the country would be more or less affected by the INTENDED effects of 9/11. And, I understand perfectly what you mean when you say that in your area, people aren’t likely to be focusing on the events of 9/11, when they’re just trying to stay alive, RIGHT NOW!! And, that’s what they’re trying to do, which is exactly why you have the crime. Crime and poverty are nearly always linked, with the crime being a result of poverty and/or oppression. Most Americans (at least the majority of white Americans) don’t want to accept this as a connection, but it seems like it should be a no-brainer to me. It’s been proven out over and over and over again. You have it in Flint, we have Oakland, LA, DC, and those are mostly just the “minority poor” and underprivileged.

We’ve also got the same problems throughout multiple cities and rural areas, across the country. There’s a methamphetamine epidemic that rarely gets much attention, but it should.  We’ve seen how those things brutalize entire communities, and yet nobody does anything to remove the causes. Still, while this certainly didn’t come about overnight, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is all a result of The Coup of 2000.

But, the 9-11 link IS still there for other portions of the population. More than we might think. Maybe because their DNA is such that they are more easily convinced of things, or easily frightened. Where the 9-11 myth has been most effective in it’s ‘intended purpose’, has been to trick people into trading in their rights, for what they think will be security, and they just haven’t figured out yet, that the security isn’t there. They’ve been sold a fake, and so have given up their rights for what they could never buy or trade in the first place. Ben Franklin warned of this. So does my neighbor’s bumper sticker. It says, “Ignore your rights, and they will go away.”

And, there’s a pretty creepy article on exactly this. (at least I think it’s pretty damn scary) at this link. It’s actually the second article at the link, the first one being the Scott Ritter piece that was originally posted here on TD.

CBS Early Show Removes Anti-War Protesters From View in Kansas City
  By Matthew Rothschild
  The Progressive

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By purplewolf, September 7, 2007 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know about the psyche about the rest of the country out there.I find it hard to believe that people are walking around out there in a state of dissaray to this day because of 9-11.In my part of the country 9-11 hasn’t changed the way people behave.It might be because this year we were recognized as the most violent city in America,last year we were #3.If you constantly let fear rule your life and keep you from doing anything and then let “the protector”, come in to keep you safe and at the same time take away all of your rights,as is happening now,you have already lost.Or you can “TUNE THEM OUT” and go about doing what you need to do. Need the government to protect you? Good luck.
I’ll protect myself and mine and as for any goverment agency full of their creeping incompetents I shall have not part.LAL.

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By Mariam Russell, September 7, 2007 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Farmer, from Texas, I assume.

The TERRORISTS are part of the myth and HOMELAND SECURITY, that govt agency straight from Mr Hitler’s how to book, is the SAVIOR and HERO of the story.


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By cyrena, September 7, 2007 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment


I’m going to look forward to Susan’s book. I’ve been trying to write something similar myself, but it’s not been an easy task, to assemble all of the myth and propaganda in relation to the results on our national psyche. This is absolutely NO doubt, that we have been both individually and collectively damaged by it. We’ve all been victims of domestic abuse for the past 7 years, and this is only part of it. This is the psychological abuse. Or…part of it.

How can anybody expect to exist, (let along thrive) if they are living under such conditions for so long? Don’t we take minors away from abusive parents? Could I sleep if I knew my neighbor was routinely beating his or her child? (well… that might depend on the kid).

Still, you get my point. This is why that Canadian doctor asked me over 4 years ago, why so many Americans were taking anti-depressants. I asked him if he paid much attention to US politics.

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By QuyTran, September 7, 2007 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Very cheap propaganda picture.

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By farmertx, September 7, 2007 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

A comforting fantasy indeed, for anyone unwilling to acknowledge reality.
We remember the TV crew who smuggled depleted uranium through the LA area port (after all the ‘safeguards’ were in place) to show our continued vulnerability to this, and almost went to jail for pointing out the shortcomings.
We remember the boatload of Haitians’ that washed ashore in FL despite the Coast Guard surveillance in that area.
And those are just the two that we know about. How many other lapses have there been? How many real terrorist’s have slipped through DHS?
But, then again, when one remembers the look on Shrubs’ face as he sat with his peers in that 3rd grade classroom…that 1000 yard stare…a leader who had no earthly idea how a leader should react to such news, it is easily understood why smoke and mirrors is his preferred tactic, his only tactic.

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