Back to September

Photo © idovermani from Flickr

Ten years ago I was sitting in a high school classroom conjugating Japanese verbs when there was a distant boom. Our teacher, Fujita sensei, a retired air force vet, remarked that it sounded like an explosion. We laughed it off and I wondered silently what in northern Virginia was worth bombing. Fifteen minutes later I found out.

Ten years ago, I knew nothing of politics. I knew nothing of the struggle for power and the insatiable human lust for domination and violence. But I knew, from the faces of my teachers, that the world had shifted; that there was no going back to September 10.

In the last decade, regardless of what politicians say in their memorial speeches, Americans have lived, more or less, in the shadow of 9/11. The heightened awareness—some might say fear—of terrorism led to a new government department, two intractable wars, and an ongoing Islamophobia. Words like “international terrorism,” “Islamic fundamentalism,” and “suicide bomber” are now common parlance. Only the death of Osama bin Laden offered some scant comfort to anxious Americans.

Sic Semper Terrorists

Osama bin Laden

The most notorious terrorist in the world is dead. We hope that the death of Osama bin Laden offers those who have suffered from his crimes a belated sense of closure. We receive the news with somber hearts and hope that the price America and the world paid for his capture was not too great.

Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

(with apologies to Lawrence Weschler) Imagine our national media as the population’s mental landscape. What’s playing in the cinemas and on our televisions reflects something about our collective psychology – our hopes, dreams, and fears. We engage with entertainment to experience catharsis and indulge in fantasy. Things in the real world have a presence in […]

Taxicab Confession

It all started with some small talk. I got into a cab at Xidan after the buses had stopped running, and the cabbie, who was the talkative type, decided to make conversation.

“Did you participate in the moment of silence?”

It was a hard question to answer, though it shouldn’t have been. The answer was “No.” Simple as that. But I equivocated. I told him that I was in a mall during the moment of silence and that I saw some people observing it (which was all true), what about you? He said that he was on the street, standing beside his car, honking his horn. I asked him why and he said dismissively that the state had ordered him to.