Was 9/11 Photo “Too Rah-Rah America”?

By | August 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Recently it was revealed that the iconic photo of FDNY firefighters raising the flag amid the smoking rubble of the Twin Towers was initially rejected by the 9/11 museum. The creative director felt that it was “Too rah-rah America” as well as “kitschy.”
Reportedly the director stated, “I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently.” [Emphasis added.] According to the Washington Times, he added that his goal was to “not reduce [9/11] down to something that was too simple, and in its simplicity would actually distort the complexity of the event, the meaning of the event.”
Eventually the photo was restored to the 9/11 museum, but the questions remain:
● Why are many people on the left afraid of being “too American”? Why do they never think that there may be risks if we are insufficiently American? Excessive patriotism may lead to chauvinism and militarism. But lack of a feeling of national unity may lead to conflict along race, class, and ethnic lines – in fact, it already is doing so.
● Why do these people believe that 9/11 is too complex to be portrayed simply? Why is it simplistic to condemn crashing airliners filled with passengers into office towers filled with workers? The situation in the Middle East is complex. Condemning mass murder of civilians is not complex – that is, not to anyone with a functioning moral compass.
● Why do leftists work hard to remove the essence of America from our history? What do they imagine will fill the vacuum that they are creating?
And what about this photo?

It shows Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the Fire Department of the City of New York, who was killed by falling debris as he ministered to the dead and injured at the foot of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Was this photo also “too rah-rah America”? Or was it “too pro-religion”?

But note that the photos were not works of art commemorating 9/11. They were actual depictions of 9/11 itself. Altering actual depictions of an event is a disturbing symptom of budding totalitarianism.
Control of information is characteristic of totalitarian regimes. If information is not made known, it never becomes part of history. This makes things easier for tyrants − they don’t have to go to the trouble of rewriting history if it was never written in the first place.
In the Soviet Union, dissidents joked that the future was known; it was the past that constantly changed to suit the ruling elite. Photos of Stalin were airbrushed to remove former colleagues who had been sent to the Gulag or shot. We have not reached that point yet, but we must be alert for signs that we are headed in that direction. Those who seek to control information and decide what people should be told are no friends of freedom.
Many nations were founded centuries or even millennia ago. But America is a relatively recent invention. Its population is still shifting because of continued immigration. To define America, we can’t refer to an ancient land with a stable population. To define America, we must refer to the ideas and ideals on which it is based.
But are we trying to preserve these ideas and hand them on to the next generation? Or are we doing our best to eradicate these ideas from our collective memory? Are we attempting to induce national amnesia? Are we undermining the foundation of our nation?
When I went to grammar school, we saluted the flag every morning. We learned patriotic songs for our national holidays. On Flag Day, we celebrated our flag. And we enjoyed Christmas and Easter vacations, not winter and spring breaks. After all, the vast majority of Americans, and all of the founders, identified themselves as Christians.
In junior high, I had to memorize the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the first and fourth verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” If you want to learn how a house is constructed, study the foundation.
In high school, I had to take American history and civics, not “social studies.” We learned about the great people and great events of our history, and (to a lesser degree) some of the unhappy events. We learned how a bill becomes law, and what powers the president and the Supreme Court have.
But I loved movies. I saw “Sergeant York,” the true story of how a pacifist became convinced that violent evildoers had to be opposed by force, then went on to earn the Medal of Honor. I saw “They Died with Their Boots On,” a highly fictionalized account of General Custer, but at least I learned that he played a key role in the Civil War, which is more than today’s history majors know.
And I saw “The Fighting Sixty-Ninth,” depicting Father Duffy’s role in this New York regiment’s World War I achievements. So when I passed his statue in Times Square, I may have been the only one on the tour bus who knew who he was − not bad for a Jewish kid who was born in Fargo. But I was brought up to be an American, not merely a member of my own ethnic group. I was being entertained at the movies, but I was also being exposed to my country’s past.
Contrast my upbringing with that of today’s kids:
● Today’s kids read history books that describe America’s past as questionable at best, and imperialistic and racist at worst.
● Today’s kids mumble a few of the words to the first verse of the National Anthem at sports events. Forget about the fourth verse, the one that mentions (gasp!) God.
● Today’s kids are taught that the founders were deists, not really Christians — that is, if religion is mentioned at all. Regarding slavery, Jefferson wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just…” Does that sound like someone who believed that God created the universe, then went on vacation?
● Today’s kids are lucky to place the Revolution or the Civil War in the right century, much less the right decade.
● Today’s kids identify Grant as the man on the $50 bill, not the man who led the Union to victory and thereby ended slavery.
● Today’s kids are taught to observe Flag Day by marching with the flags of the nations from which their ancestors came. They learn respect other nations, not our own.
● Today’s kids are forbidden to hold Christmas programs in schools, but instead they observe Mexican Day of the Dead and Cinco de Mayo. Instead of E Pluribus Unum, they are taught “multiculturalism,” which means to respect other cultures, not our own.
● Today’s kid’s see movies depicting our leaders as scheming warmongers, and our military as sadistic morons and oppressors. For a few recent examples, consider the “Bourne” series, “Courage Under Fire,” and “In the Valley of Elah”
● Today’s kids see clergy depicted as idiots or molesters, if they see them at all, and religion shown as an oppressive force. But this refers only to Christianity − extremist Islam is not mentioned, much less criticized.
● Today’s kids, and even law students, are taught that the Constitution is a “living document.” That is, it has no fixed meaning, and means whatever a judge says it means today. Tomorrow it may mean something else. Law that is arbitrary and unpredictable loses its claim on our respect − or our obedience.
In short, the current generation of Americans has been taught little of the foundations of their country. And what they were taught was often negative. What they saw in films and on TV reinforced this negative impression.
No wonder they view America with ambivalence or even hostility, although they were born here. Are “Taliban” John Walker Lindh, “Al Qaeda” Adam Gadahn, and “Fort Hood shooter” Major Hasan aberrations, or the tip of the iceberg?
The Obama administration claims it has the power to decide what information is “harmful,” and then to “redistribute speech” so as to minimize “harmful” information and emphasize “beneficial” information. There are plans to regulate talk radio and the Internet in the interest of “fairness.”
If you want to destroy a house, undermine the foundation. If you want to destroy a nation, do the same. If you want to restrict liberty, restrict the free flow of information on which liberty depends. If you want to debase people who are defined by ideas, destroy the ideas. If you want to bring down a society that is sustained by its history, photoshop that history.
If political correctness is our goal, surely we must delete this video. And speaking of photos that are “too rah-rah America,” must we remove this one, too?

 Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

www.stolinsky.com

No Comments

  • For an interesting exercise, watch the video mentioned in the last paragraph of the column. As you view the montage of photos of 9/11, can you guess which of the people shown did not survive that day?
    We already mentioned Father Mychal Judge, seen here conforting a firefighter shortly before his own death. And we see First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan from the back. He died also. But the young firefighter coming up the stairs when everyone else was going down was Mike Keyhoe. Despite the other-worldly expression on his face, he did survive. He got out just before the tower collapsed.
    These photos are priceless parts of American history. Any attempt to censor or alter them must be met with firm opposition. Remembering our past isn’t an option — it is a duty.

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