Blog roundup: 9/11 edition.

I have never written about Sept. 11. I still don’t know what to say except that I cannot forgive myself for my initial reaction:

Thank God I have a daughter and not a son.

I honestly thought we’d be at war. That the Department of Defense would vacuum up any male between 18 and 25 who didn’t have flat feet or a good lawyer.

Even if they decided to draft young women I knew that Abby would be safe because a neurological illness had left her disabled.

Seconds later I felt incredible shame. What about all the parents of draft-age sons? What must they be going through right now? In addition to watching the towers fall again and again on TV, they had to be imagining their boys framed by terrorist crosshairs.

I will not do a full-blown essay about 9/11. Given the horrors of the past decade, anything I wrote would sound as hollow as pebbles dropping into a bowl.

It really doesn’t matter where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. I’m not one of the ones who has suffered in a true and terrible fashion. I lost no relatives or friends in the events of that day, or in the endless conflict that has ground on since then.

My sorrow is more abstract. I grieve not just for other people’s pain, but for what I see as our collective loss: that we are less tolerant, less kind, less accepting of difference. That the sight of olive skin, black hair and a beard makes people frown. That as recently as four months ago an airline pilot would refuse to fly a plane because two of its passengers were Muslim – even though the men had been screened twice and were screened (including a luggage check) a third time after the pilot aborted his takeoff and returned to the gate.

That last is staggeringly ironic, since those two men were on their way to a conference about “Islamophobia.”

I specifically avoided posts about 9/11 in this roundup, figuring you’ve already had your fill. Here instead are articles about things like the American Jobs Act, decluttering, no-knead bread, no-tech vacations and the resumption of sexual relations after childbirth.

You did it. Not everyone can at I Pick Up Pennies

Politics and gender imbalance online: Women are not participating at Tiger Beatdown (read the comments, too)

Is the American Jobs Act the stairway to Heaven? at Kathryn’s Conversations

Take off and leave the technology on the coffee table at Notes For My Next Life

25 things to throw out today at Wise Bread

What will you get from Social Security? at Get Rich Slowly

Incoming student etiquette at Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured (forward this to your freshman)

Loyalty cards: Providing rewards or threats? at Wealth Informatics

12 bad-ass blogs that will improve your life at Rather Be Shopping (yep, I’m mentioned with regard to my posts at MSN Money Smart spending — I love it when people call me “bad-ass”!)

I made bread. It was easy. You can, too at Cheap Healthy Good

Dead vagina walking at I’m Gonna Kill Him (I heard excerpts of this read aloud at BlogHer 2011 and nearly lost it – bladder control, that is. Damn, this woman is funny.)

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  1. Donna,
    I strongly disagree “that we are less tolerant, less kind, less accepting of difference…” Nor do I agree that that is the legacy of the horrors of 9/11. Our collective loss as a nation is the loss of freedom. We have gone from a free and open society to one in which we can no longer take as a given some unspoken, universal understanding among peoples and nations that certain acts of barbarity are so evil as to be outside the boundaries of human action. This is not only America’s loss, it is civilization’s loss.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Helen: I respectfully disagree that this level of barbarity did not exist before Sept. 11, 2001. Ask survivors of the Holocaust, or survivors of the Armenian or Rwandan genocides, to name just a few off the top of my head.
      Heck, ask Native Americans — they were targeted for extinction, sometimes shot to death even as babes in arms because “nits breed lice.” Far from being “outside the boundaries of human action,” this was policy.

  2. My son was 31, and I cringed for him. I was thankful the other two, 28 and 23 were girls. During the Vietnam war, older men were considered for the draft. Ten years ago, I did not know how horrid it would get, where else we would be attacked, or how prolonged the war would be. I had a grandson who was six-years-old at the time. Right now, he is going on seventeen. Who knows? If we were suddenly needing men, he could have a patriotic impulse or the draft could be reinstated.

    However, any mother’s child going to war bothers me. But, my first impulse was for my own child and grandchild. Dead Vagina Walking? I gotta go read!

  3. Exactly my point, Donna. This was not policy, this was not an attempt to take land, this was not genocide, this was not violence during a time of war– international or civil. This was unprovoked horrific violence against innocent victims on a scale we have never seen before– nearly three thousand, three thousand!– innocent people murdered in peacetime in a single day.

  4. I never said genocide is not horrific, violent, and unprovoked.
    I said the 9/11 attacks were unprovoked (that is, not during a time of war or conflict) attacks which occurred on a single day, on a massive scale, i.e., nearly three thousand people murdered, without warning, and without the victims even knowing they were the enemy.
    I hope you are able to understand that distinction.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Helen: I understand what you’re saying — but I don’t understand the distinction itself.
      You talked of “some unspoken, universal understanding among peoples and nations that certain acts of barbarity are so evil as to be outside the boundaries of human action.”
      The fact that the 9/11 attack occurred “not during a time of war or conflict” somehow makes it uniquely and supremely barbaric/unconscionable? I don’t believe there’s any act of barbarity that is outside the boundaries of human action. Humankind has proved that over and over — and in particular, humankind has proved that it’s willing to overlook barbaric actions as long as they take place a safe distance from its own borders.
      Understand: I am not saying that the attack wasn’t horrific. What I am saying is that we perceived the 9/11 attack as particularly barbaric because it’s something relatively few of us had ever experienced — and because it happened to us in our own home.

  5. On the other hand, I gotta admit that I am impressed with your mixed “American Jobs Act, decluttering, no-knead bread, no-tech vacations and the resumption of sexual relations after childbirth” bag of links.

  6. Concerning 9/11…I know for a fact it changed me and my family for ever. And to this day still can make no sense of why it happened and the fact that even though almost all the terrorists were Saudi our goverment has made no moves against Saudi Arabia or ask for a credable explanation. But rather invaded Iraq…again….because their ruler was not a fan of the US. I will never forget that day…and will never look at a passenger airliner the same way….

  7. I just read “I’m gonna Kill him” piece…….Tooooooo Funny….This gal is a very talented writer.

  8. Helen, I still think you have not made your point and Donna has refuted your claims quite eloquently and simply. I think you are just now realizing these bad things can happen here, too.

    How about female genital mutilation? How does thatact performed on young girls fit into your scenario of
    “some unspoken, universal understanding among peoples and nations that certain acts of barbarity are so evil as to be outside the boundaries of human action. This is not only America’s loss, it is civilization’s loss.” ? These losses and acts of barbarity have occurred before and since 9/11.

  9. ? ? ? What the...

    Incredable thought processof yours . My self as a life long NYer- nephews that were teenagers (many friends, neighbors etc that had kids that were teenagers at the time also), co-worker’s daughter that worked in WTC’s upper floors (dead), GF’s cuz that I knew -Port Authrity Cop- Dead, friend’s cuz- Fireman, Dead, High School classmate-Fireman Dead. Local Fire House- most of the men-dead. The largest attack of US civilians on US soil-almost 3K-dead. Maybe I’m a complete stupid idiot, but the last thing that I thought about on that day was the Draft. As a matter of fact, many men & women of Draft age volunteered in the Military after Sept 11. In a day or 2 I’ll be un-subscribed from these Emails

  10. That’s it. That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more! In other words, I’m unsubscribing.

  11. No comments from me on 9/11 as those thoughts belong to me alone. I just wanted to say that I am a life long NYer born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens and now living on Long Island. Donna, I am saying all that to say that I agree with your comments and will be back tomorrow to read more of your wonderful words.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Lenes: Thank you. And I’ll be back in New York in mid-October, so maybe I should try another Surviving and Thriving meet-up….?

  12. bagelgirl


    Haven’t you figured out by now to stay out of the political?

  13. I can see all the points here, and as horrendous as 9/11 seemed here in California, I cannot imagine what it was like to be in New York or to have family or friends killed that day, as ???what the experienced. It is — well, you said it — there are no words. But — I don’t think Donna is denying that or claiming that the only fallout is an increased lack of tolerance amongst Americans (pretty undeniable) or in any way trying to downplay the gravity and viciousness of those events. For Americans this was new territory — for hundreds of millions of people across the globe in just the past century alone, barbarity was/is a constant, murderous reality. It is not defending the murderers of 9/11 to bemoan the increased levels of suspicion and intolerance that we are feeling as a nation. We risk becoming intolerant in defending ourselves from the intolerant.

    Glad you aren’t staying out of the political!!

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