I have very little to say about the big anniversary. I remember feeling emotionally wounded by the images. But I got over it. Because for me, like most everybody else, it was just images. (I exclude the people actually killed or directly affected by grief or service that followed from this.) Like the famine killing children in Somalia is just images. The indulgence of those of us victimized by nothing more than overplayed murder porn has been distressing. Equally distressing is the undeniable fact that a nihilistic religious fanatic and his buddies kicked our ass–on that day and the decade afterward. He manipulated the pampered simpleton and petty wannabe tough guy who ran the country into squandering our wealth and blood on nonsense. Period. Refute it.

If you think we’re better off for 9/11 having happened, in any way, you are delusional. I try not to deal in delusion.

However, defeat, like everything else, is always temporary. Nothing is permanent. In America more than most places. Actually, more than any place, I would say, nothing in America is permanent. That’s the genius of our ethnic and legal structure: the encouragement of reasonably orderly impermanence.

I have never heard this better expressed than in Leonard Cohen’s poem/song called “Democracy.”

The whole thing is great, but here is the heart of it:

It’s coming through a crack in the wall; on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
It’s coming from the silence on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street, the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’ that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

As far as I’m concerned, that ought to be the national anthem.

You real Americans can have Toby Keith and his empty smack talk, writing checks that other flesh and blood human beings would have to cash. I’ll take Leonard Cohen.

God bless America.

2 thoughts on “Democracy

  1. It wouldn’t shock me that Osama was playing a generational game, attacking us not just for the day’s payoff but for the shockwaves that would ripple through the average American’s life. Look at how deeply we’ve changed our society in response to that day. Our kids get felt-up to get on a plane, no-fly lists you can’t get off, the FBI can just write a letter and grab all of your Internet activity and legally hush the provider, warrant-less wiretaps, seemingly perpetual war abroad, and a host of other small steps down the road to tyranny.

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