Unhappy/Crimethink

Andrei Marks · September 11, 2007

This is coming slightly late, but here’s an excerpt from a news article about September 11th. The article was from CCTV’s website (China Central Television, the national television broadcaster, technically an organ of the central government and Party), and was entitled the “Western Countries Have a New ‘Year’s End’”. It was about how America, Britain, and recently Germany, where a terrorist plot was foiled last week, step up their domestic anti-terror efforts when 9/11 rolls around. (Translator’s note: I don’t really understand the use of Year’s End here, it might be something colloquial I’m not getting.)

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Every September 11, the United States maintains a high degree of wariness towards any sort of suspicious behavior, and now this type of “year’s end” pressure has already reached other western countries like England and Germany.

“9/11” has come again, and the Western nation’s anti-terrorist nerves have really begun to tense. One can say without any exaggeration, that in regard to these few countries, this arrival of this day brings the same suffering that a comes with passing a “year’s end”. On September 8, Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden made an appearance in a recording, giving a thicker flavor to the “year’s end”. On the same day, U.S. President Bush was present at the APEC meeting in Sydney, and upon hearing of this news, immediately reminded everyone at the meeting that “we live in a dangerous world.”
<p>America: The Grieving Mentality of Year’s End
</p><p>Every year for the past six years Americans have commemorated “9/11”. This year, even though many Americans express the wish to “remember by forgetting”, the harder they try to let it fade from memory, the more painful it becomes to recollect. Because for Americans, six years ago the terror and grief of that great catastrophe was etched into their bones and seared into their minds. And every day it is commemorated is a “psychological year’s end” that is difficult to move past.</p><p>In the past few days, Washington D.C. police have clearly increased their precautions, and more police cars can be seen on streets along Congress and other government buildings, as well as at every major intersection. The airports are even more strictly carrying out safety inspections, every person has to remove their shoes and is subjected to a body search. On the 6th, America’s Department of Homeland Security head also reminded the people that terrorist organizations “have note given up their desire to subjugate us”, and asked that everyone be on guard.
</p> <p>According to the government, nearly every disaster comes from “9/11”. If there hadn’t been a “9/11”, then there wouldn’t have been a Guantanamo, there wouldn’t be any CIA “black-sites”, and there wouldn’t have been the loud uproar over wiretapping policies. If there hadn’t been a “9/11” tragedy, then there probably would be no Iraq war, no war in Afghanistan. The government has done all of this in the name of preventing another reenactment of “9/11” (Translator: I feel like the poetic flavor of the last two sentences is more evident in Chinese, because the word for tragedy,悲剧,actually has the character for “play” in it. But that might just be me.)
</p> <p>The U.S. Government has used all its power to fight anti-terrorism, and especially since “9/11” its stare has been focused dead on in the direction of Al-Quaeda. This includes the plot in Germany from the 4th, which was discovered with America’s help. But after six years, 80% of Americans still believe that within the next decade, another terrorist attack on the scale of “9/11” may occur.</p>=-=-=-=-=-=

Now, I don't think my present feelings about 9/11 accurately reflect this article's description of every American's present day state of mind. Honestly I hadn't thought of 9/11 in the past couple weeks, and I woke up yesterday morning thinking "oh, it's Wednesday" and didn't even link the date to 2001 until I read this article that evening. Of course I find it terribly sad, thinking about what happened six years ago. I am sometimes surprised at how swiftly the recollection of it still brings tears to my eyes, this long afterwards. I imagine it might strum that same sad chord in me for the rest of my life. But it's just a particularly powerful memory and sorrow, that's all it is. It doesn't tear at me and I don't live in fright, and I can say that I largely have forgotten it, in the positive sense. I can't speak for everybody, but most of the Americans I know go about their regular lives without 9/11 registering the tiniest of blips on their radar. It really seems like we have moved past it, because that's how the majority of people react to traumatic events--there's suffering, and then eventually they get over it. And that "eventually" hardly ever lasts for years and years, especially when the tragedy doesn't affect a person directly.

But the emotional remnants left over can be powerful if they're evoked and developed. And that's what the government does when it wants people to react to them making policy, it reminds them about 9/11 and lets our personal feelings work on their behalf. This isn't always a bad thing. People forget fast, and that can be a problem when you're working on timescales longer than what's going on this weekend. As is the case with everything though, it sometimes is a bad thing, and it becomes nothing more than illicit manipulation. The best part is that you don't know when it's bad and when it isn't.

Nobody knows what's going on in the Middle East, in the sense of knowing the resources and plans of all the 10,000 different parties involved. People know even less than


Sorry, I don’t know at which point I lost track of my point and started the rant. It’s developed much farther in my head but I’ll spare my readers, because it’s nothing nobody hasn’t heard before (triple negative!).

I wanted to say just this:
- 9/11 sucked hard.
- We’re pretty much over it.
- American government: compel us with results, not emotional propaganda from the past.
- Chinese government: I understand your distaste for our Iraq war, but I am glad that you support our anti-terror efforts and I hope that everything goes well with your own Uighur separatists evil terrorists out west.

Sorry, I momentarily forgot about the Chinese Ministry of Propaganda’s post-9/11 naming conventions. I mean, I ungoodwise thinked that crimethink. I wonder if George Orwell would find it funny that 新华 (xin1hua2), which among other things refers to the national press agency in China, which reports directly to the the Public Information Department of the Communist Party, could be punned with 新话 (xin1hua4), literally “new speak”! Haha, who cares if he would, I think it’s funny!

Random note:
I’m going to start using member as a verb. It’s what you do when you make a memory that you can later remember. So if you’re paying attention to something you’re membering it. Member also means to put something together, as opposed to dismembering something. You could say things like “Give me a second, I want to member how to member this puzzle.”

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