Smith: Media focus on 10th anniversary of 9/11 is misdirected

Ten years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it seems North Americans have yet to deal with their ethnocentric obsession with this tragedy.

Ten years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it seems North Americans have yet to deal with their ethnocentric obsession with this tragedy.

I know, big words, small heart. But really, I’m afraid that’s what I think when the CBC  wakes me up each morning to another dirge of 9/11 drama.

Yes, bad things really can happen to us seems to be the theme of this week—yet again. It makes me wonder what it was like to spend the week after the Hiroshima bomb was dropped in Japan.

I don’t know whether it’s just that the “real people” stories from the fateful day the World Trade Centre toppled are simply easier for Western journalists to farm than stories on Afghan civilians surviving an unending war or starving Somalis, or that it still seems so inconceivable terrorism and warfare could happen on American soil.

One thing is for certain, though, the media are hell-bent on reliving 9/11 a decade after the dust has settled.

Where were you on Sept. 11? We all know the answer, unfortunately, for it was an incredibly dark day.

But so too was the day the London subway was bombed, the time(s) Israel was shelled or the entire Middle East broke out in protest and war this past summer.

In the first half of 2010, more than 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed or injured. That’s about half as many as were killed on that one single day in New York mind you, but in Afghanistan that one snippet of casualties took place after years and years of on-going warfare.

It made the news because it was considered a spike in the otherwise routine number of fatalities and maiming incidents.

In a four-month period, it’s predicted 750,000 people will starve to death out of sight and out of mind in Somalia.

This does seem rather inconceivable as we barely heard anything about it in the lead-up to this year’s famine designation.

By comparison, we still hear very little about all those starving people—a week’s worth of multi-hour coverage? Not likely.

It sounds hard-hearted to be so cynical, but sometimes I think there’s even more disrespect in blowing the events of 9/11 so out of proportion to the rest of the world’s issues—even for Americans.

Will those directly effected by 9/11 feel an impact 10 years later? Of course. Really the whole of New York will, but does that mean the entire country should return to a state of mourning? Probably not.

There’s something to be said for moving on in life and that something seems to be missing from the news judgement of media top dogs who have clearly set an agenda to go out and pepper us with 9/11 aftermath stories.

No doubt cheaper and easier to come by than those which portray the aftermath for the rest of the world—again, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even the American economic conflagration (no doubt in part to blame on the militarization brought on by 9/11).

We’re heading into another global economic downturn we learned this week and that famine and on-going Middle Eastern unrest are pretty big issues too.

No one really knows the extent of damage wrought on the people in Syria and, quite frankly, all of these issues are pretty well child’s play when compared with the global warming issue (assuming you don’t listen to ultra right-wing American media types and believe the melting polar ice caps are a conspiracy to stop the U.S. from drilling for oil).

Can you imagine the future we’re heading into if the world’s weather patterns change? It’s never a bad idea to remember events like 9/11, but it’s never a great idea to glorify them to an extent that the actual event becomes a jumping off point for an unending cycle of destructive drama.

It was but one event in a decade’s worth of triumphs and sorrows. Why give the terrorists another reasons to celebrate their successes?



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