It's time to take it personally
Illustration by Josh Hagler
Friday September 14, 2001
Despite fighting a head cold, I've been extremely hotheaded the past few days - and no, the irony isn't lost on me. In the few columns I've written for this paper the past two months, I've prided myself on letting what I know and think override that which I feel. Not now.
I had a great column lined up for today. All about the budget surplus, tax cuts and how Democrats were getting away with their lies. Man, was I really gonna get 'em. I was going to throw some indisputable, "in your face" facts in there.
Two days later, I really, truly, honestly couldn't give a damn. It will be weeks, and maybe months, before anything like that will be remotely relevant again. All the petty political disputes in Washington and here at the UA mean nothing at the moment, while we as a unified people all take time to think about what we should all have in common: anger.
Congress displayed the rejuvenated spirit of this country Tuesday night. It was amazing to see Congress - Republicans and Democrats - embracing each other and spontaneously singing "God Bless America" in unison on the steps of the Capitol. What impressed me most about what I was seeing was not that these national leaders were begrudgingly putting aside their differences; it was that their unity was instinctive. Not one of them thought twice about putting partisan bickering on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Yet, as strange as it sounds, I'm convinced that this news still has not hit home for many of us. New York City may be a part of our country, but it's still 3,000 miles away. In comparison to disasters we've witnessed around the world on television, this is no different. But in reality, this should hit home. To those who have not lived in or visited New York City or Washington, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon may still seem worlds away. The fact is, we're just lucky to be living on this side of the country.
This is extremely personal.
On Wednesday, I heard a couple of students in one of my classes saying that while none of the victims deserved to die, we as a country "had it coming." And something about the arrogance of our country thinking how we're invulnerable to domestic attacks. Pardon me, but this is the kind of nonsense that really pisses me off. Few of us here at the UA have been personally affected by the loss of a loved one. If all of us felt the pain and anger that the families of the victims are feeling right now, some of us would be singing a different tune.
Some are saying that anger isn't the answer; we must think about the repercussions of expressing our anger in a military action. These people aren't higher-thinkers as they may claim to be, but rather those who simply haven't felt personally affected by what has occurred. Fortunately, these people are in a vast minority at this point.
I don't know how much it's going to take for some of us to get good and angry like we should be. I get the feeling that it would take nothing less than a terrorist attack on Old Main to get some people around here to open their eyes.
The largest city in our country - the most powerful country in the world - was hit where it was most vulnerable. And some of us don't take it personally.
On Tuesday, an American woke up to his annoying alarm clock. He dragged himself into the shower and ate breakfast. He brushed his teeth and made his way to work. An hour later, he was faced with the choice of being burned alive or jumping 100 stories to his death. And some of us don't take it personally.
At least 20,000 people lost their lives. Airline passengers on four planes knew they were going to die. Palestinians were celebrating in the street. And some of us don't take it personally.
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor 60 years ago, it signed its death warrant, and more than 500,000 people paid the price. This time, it won't take America four years to respond. Whoever's responsible for what happened Tuesday has signed their death warrant. It's over for them already. And it's damn sure personal.