Tuned In

Don't Tell Me What 9/12 Means, Glenn Beck

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Today, you are already aware, is the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Tomorrow, you may or may not be aware, is the date of Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, which the Fox News host will be marking with a live-TV event in Washington, and which he announced in March in an effort to

bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States, or political parties. We were united as Americans…

You can make your own judgments about the platform of Nine Principles and Twelve Values that Beck has tied to the anniversary of a heinous mass murder. But as someone who happened to be in New York City eight years ago today, the implicit premise of the 9-12 Project—that those who aren’t on Beck’s side must have somehow “forgotten” 9/11 and its aftermath—ticks me off royally and personally.

I was at home in Brooklyn, holding my six-week-old baby on the couch, when I saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center on TV. I watched the smoking pit of the ruins from the roof of my apartment building as bits of memo paper and ash drifted on the winds to my neighborhood. I was there on 9/11, and 9/12, and 9/13. You’ll excuse me if I don’t feel warm nostalgia for the lingering smell of burnt airplane fuel, and metal, and bodies.

Nor, of course, does Beck. What he purportedly wants is to bring back our feeling of “unity.” I remember that feeling. After 9/11, I remember hardcore liberal New Yorkers rallying behind Rudy Giuliani, saying nice things about President Bush when he spoke at the WTC ruins. I remember thousands of American flags being flown out of apartment and brownstone windows, not as political statements or in the you-better-prove-your-patriotism spirit of flag pins and Freedom Fries, but simply because we felt we Americans were all in this together.

So since March, what has Glenn Beck been doing to re-establish that sense of nonpartisan national brotherhood? Calling President Obama a racist, declaring that the government was bringing fascism upon us, asking his fans to dig up dirt on political figures he doesn’t like, and predicting civil-war-like uprisings. Because that’s how you bring people together.

None of us have a unique claim on the meaning of 9/11, or 9/12. The fact that I was in New York on 9/11 does not make my views about anything that’s happened since more valid than anyone else’s. (If you were in Montana on 9/11, your views are just as legitimate as mine.) Millions of us were here, and we drew millions of different lessons from that day.

New York being a Blue city, of course, millions of those people disagree with Glenn Beck. But that does not mean that those New Yorkers—or Washington D.C. residents—have “forgotten” 9/12, or 9/11. Believe me, we damn well wish we could forget.

You want to bring back the feeling of national unity and civility, Glenn Beck? You could start by not using this tragedy as your personal political platform.