Violence and perpetual war are the defining traits of America, so when I read that the U.S. Navy has built a massive, $1.2 billion warship “containing 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the fallen Twin Towers”, I found the news as fitting as I did revolting. After all, within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center government officials such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were eagerly seeking a number of dubious ways to tie the events to Iraq in order to justify an invasion the Bush administration began planning as soon as its first National Security Council meeting (with key principals beginning much earlier). And since that fateful day in 2001, the U.S. government has been bombing poor people around the globe – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia – in a war of terror that has succeeded at little more than sowing the seeds of the next instance of blowback.
I do wonder about the families of the victims of 9/11, though; the ones the president of the September 11th Families’ Association tells Newsday were “smiling through [their] tears” at the sight of a floating fortress of death pulling up alongside the shores of New York City, “escorted by four NYPD helicopters and a phalanx of Coast Guard and police boats as sailors and Marines manned loaded machine guns around the decks.” Given that millions of people have either been killed or forced to flee their homes as a result of the U.S. response to 9/11, while Osama bin Laden and his cohorts – the purported targets of the response – roam free, what exactly are these people cheering other than vengeance, a mindless lashing out at those abroad for the crimes perpetrated by 19 terrorists armed with box cutters?
And what does it say about a culture that commemorates – or permits its government to commemorate on its behalf with nary a critical world – the slaughter of 3,000 of its own, not by using scraps from the Twin Towers to build a monument to peace or a school to promote tolerance and understanding, but by building a machine designed solely for inflicting death and destruction on others? To ask, as the saying goes, is to answer.
The pathetic display of gaudy machismo that is the U.S.S. New York is no more sophisticated an expression of masculinity than attaching a pair of truck nuts to an F-150, but its bad taste is compounded by the fact that when the U.S. military builds a warship, you can bet it’s not just for display purposes. As Democratic luminary and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once put it, “What’s the point of having this superb military . . . if we can’t use it?” And so the tragedy of 9/11 will be answered with numerous tragedies still to come, those in far-off lands unfortunate enough to experience the brunt of the American brand of justice at least comforted by the fact that their suffering may provide a sense of closure for the ignorant, exploited domestic victims of U.S. foreign policy.
Your Final Dose of Bad Taste and Criminal Waste of Tax Dollars:
Many on board [the U.S.S. New York] had stayed up late Sunday to watch the World Series with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had ridden out in one of the New York’s troop transport hovercrafts to the ship cruising 10 miles offshore.
Nonetheless, the day began as usual with the announcement of “reveille, reveille” and the trill of the bosun’s pipe at 4 a.m. But there was also something special, a fitting tribute to the ship’s heritage: a recording of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.”