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BC’s Tales of the Pacific |  Sept. 11 is latest victim of American Civil War

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A Memorial to mark the 19th anniversary takes place at the NYC memorial site — CNN.com

US marks 9/11 anniversary with memorial ceremonies across country — MSN.com

New York City marks 9/11 at a time of harrowing loss — NYTimes.com

U.S. remembers 9/11 as pandemic changes tribute traditions — LATimes.com

Trump and Biden in Shanksville, Pennsylvania for 9/11 anniversary — CBSnews.com

IF you think these were the headlines on Friday, you would be wrong. In fact, some of them would not be found on first page of a newspaper. These lines were an average of nine stories below the top story, some in such small font that they were smaller than the ads that surrounded them.

The anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 passed without notice this week, which leads us to ask why. Why did the most important event of the last generation, possibly the last thirty years, come and go unheeded? What does it say about us? What does it say about September 11? Even the New York Times, flagship news outlet of the victim city, gave only token attention to the monumentally historic event.

Perhaps it is because it is the nineteen-year anniversary. Who makes a big deal about that, after all? Next year will be bigger, you say. We will really do it up for the twentieth. Perhaps.

Perhaps it is because the event is too painful to remember, so we tip our hats politely and move on with our lives. September 11 hurts the way a failed marriage hurts. It was a big part of our lives, but in the end, we would just as soon forget it as recall it. Perhaps.

Let me suggest another possibility, a clue to which may be found in the last headline from above. In the year 2020 the United States is embroiled in a civil war. It is an election year featuring two parties who absolutely hate each other without remorse or reservation. Democrats and Republicans have not been this venomous since, well, the American Civil War. One hundred and sixty years ago, they glared at each other across the aisle and believed that if the hated enemy prevailed, war would remain the only recourse. Compromise was over, diplomacy a thing of the past, understanding found only among fools. Is it much different today?

When was the last time you heard a liberal say anything nice about the president? When was the last time you heard a conservative say anything nice about liberals? Leaders of both sides throw out wild accusations with no basis in fact whatsoever, but because there is a willingness to believe among the population, grotesque rumors become established fact. “Of course, he did it. Look at him!” they shout. “Of course, she said those things. Think about who we are talking about!” they say. No one waits for facts to be established when hatred pulses through their veins.

As far as the media is concerned, there are only three stories in the whole world: Donald Trump, Covid-19 and racial injustice, and in their minds they are all connected. For the last four years they have waged the most savage, unfair, hateful war I have ever seen, and they are not ashamed of themselves because to them the ends justify the means.

Come November, one side will win, and the other side will lose. Some will feel vindicated and victorious while others, enraged, will arm for war. There are multiple visions of America out there, many of which are incompatible. We said that in 1860. If you tell yourself, “At least we are not shooting each other,” then you are not paying attention to Oregon or Minnesota. Then again, why would you? The media has completely sanitized those stories for their own agenda.

Today’s conflicts have led us to forget September 11. Future generations will call this the Second American Civil War.

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He currently resides on the mainland U.S.

 

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