Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 + 10

by Patti Dengler, Walk Program Director

It's been ten years since 911. Ten years and I'm still angry. But probably not the way you might think. I want to talk here about something I think many people would consider blasphemous or un-American.  Though I am, in every sence of the word an American.  I love my country, and I don't mean to blaspheme her.

I want to say that in ten years I have yet to see why or how the suffering of the people who lost family or were killed on 911 is any different than the suffering of the thousands of people affected by murder in our country every year and, that I am struck by the inconsistency in the way Americans view and deal with tragedy.

Here is my question (and it pisses me off that more people are not asking it): Why all this outpouring of love and nationalism for one event? What did these victims do to deserve the jackpot of money and national concern that all the others didn't?

In the last ten years since 911 and including that fateful year there have been about 15,000 murders in our country PER YEAR that were not the result of a terrorist attack. And by murder I mean the unlawful, willful taking of a life. Based on conservative estimates, about 3000 of these yearly murders are women killed by domestic partners and children killed by caregivers. It's debatable how many of the 15,000 murders are hate crimes. And these numbers don't even address the beatings, rapes, torture and other hideous crimes where people didn't die as a result of their assaults

So what makes us, as a country, open our hearts and wallets (to what some might consider an obscene degree) over the 911 travesty and yet, kind of "not notice" all the other horrors we face here every day?
I'm not saying that the folks who lost loved ones and were hurt by 911 didn't deserve national love and support. I'm just wondering why so many others DON'T by our standards. I just want to know; What makes one victim of violence special and another not special? Is it the amount of famousness attributed the victim? Is it because it's hard to tell who the "bad guys" are when they are not dark skinned "America" haters?   Is it because we can't tell who is innocent unless the victimization happens to 5000 people at one time?

I know American's put lots and lots of tax dollars into caring for victims. I can tell you from experience though, that the money doesn't match the need even by half and additionally, it's hard to come by. People don't want to part with it. But these same people who don't want to spend much to stop child murder or hate crimes easily opened up their wallets and shelled out the cash for the 911 victims. Why is this? Can you please tell me?

Is it the way we view victims?
Is it the way we view perpetrators?
Is it the effects of media?
Is it just easy because it was a one time event?
Are these even the right questions? I really want to know. I welcome all considered responses.

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