I went to the Ohio State Fair with my husband and 4 year old daughter on Saturday. First let me say, great people watching. Second, I am beyond sick of capitalism as a scape goat for the commodification of pain. I walked by a T-Shirt stand holding my excited daughter’s hand as we were finding our way to Kiddie Land when low and behold there it was; the quintesssential drape of marked death being sold for ten dollars a pop to the nearest empathetic genius. A classic T-Shirt with stitching at the neck scooped like a hanged man’s noose. The T-Shirt branded with what has now become an American tag line, 9/11 We Will Never Forget. Oh, but we have forgotten… On the rack adjacent to the Forgotten Tee was yet another sorry excuse for capitalized empathy; September 11, 2011, 10th Anniversary, God Bless America!. I suddenly became sick as a pang of disgust riddled my body, I could feel the gag reflex at the back of my throat, a giant lump forming like a puss filled cyst waiting to burst open and infect the blood as it traveled to my heart.
I am a New Yorker who experienced the tragedy first hand, but that fact is not enough to gain credibility on this disheartening topic. I am a veteran who has family and friends serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (still not enough). I am an American student who has become ever more critical of her country as a whole, capitalism as a guise, Western ideals, and the fall of man as we strive toward global clones of such, inevitably erasing Eastern identity and commodifying cultures. We have commodified our own culture to the point of shame, I am growing fearful of what is next.
What have we forgotten? 9/11 happened to me. The streets of New York silent with fear and reverence. Paper trash inked with Broadway advertisements riding the wind down the Avenue of Americas settling for a home in a gutter of ashes. Tears streaming down my face as I stood on the corner of 6th Ave and 34th street staring in disbelief at the cloud of smoke hovering over the desolate city, a ghost town. I couldn’t breathe, the souls of so many lingered in the air, choking me. I remember the days that followed, the sudden immediacy of compassion. Where did the taxis go? Not even a few days afterward, the tables which once sold I Love New York T-shirts had been re-stocked with picturesque symbols of destruction; the Twin Towers burning with the American Flag waving in the background. Oh, and how about the good ol’ western influenced WANTED signs with Osama Bin Laden’s face in the center of the mock tea stained edged paper. Let’s go head hunting! hmmmm….that must be where the taxis went. I was sickened at how quickly we cashed in on our own blood. Patriotism took the form of racial profiling, brown faced discrimination wrapped in white linen. Where did that hot dog stand go? I remember Evil begetting more Evil, West versus East? No, mob mentality. People colliding with their fellow brethren to appease the fear in their quivering hearts. Blurred brown faces. Afghani and Iraqi, Indian and Pakistani, Muslim, Hindu, Middle Eastern, Brown faced, all became terrorists. Lives intruded upon in the guise of Homeland Security. Degrading rhetoric.
Back to the Fair. I watched as people lined up to purchase and wear these T-shirts. Sheeple ignorantly buying into the 9/11 epidemic. A disgusting display of what has been lost, what has been forgotten, all the disrupted lives, the untold amount of death and destruction, two blood infused wars of forced democratic assimilation. I swallowed the bursting cyst in my throat, held onto my daughter’s hand and scurried past the patriotic crowd of ignorance. C’mon let’s buy a funnel cake! I took a bite, and as the sugary fried batter touched my watering tongue, my memory lapsed. Ohhh…Pig Races!