The silent anniversary that proves it’s all a lie

The silent anniversary that proves it’s all a lie March 9, 2020

They’re lying. To themselves, primarily, but also to everyone else. They know it. We know it. Everyone knows it.

But none of that has prevented this lie from shaping American politics, American life, and — for a generation now, but only a generation — American Christianity.

Here is proof that they’re lying. Concrete, massive, irrefutable proof. This is knowable. This is known. Here is why: a revisiting of a post from March 9, 2019.

Three thousand people lost their lives on 9/11. It was a harrowing tragedy that affected every American.

Two years ago, on this day, more than 4,000 people were killed. Four thousand lives ended. Four thousand American lives snuffed out in their sleep.

The commemoration, the public mourning, the speechifying and grandstanding and collective mass-expression of all five Kubler-Ross stages of grief we should expect to see today should be greater than, or at least comparable to, the mass-mourning we all felt and witnessed and participated in on September 11, 2002.

Because these were all children. These were innocent babies.

In Cleveland there should be an impromptu shrine — one of those street memorials that we Americans spontaneously assemble whenever we’re confronted with mass death. There should be thousands of candles, balloons, stuffed animals, cards and crosses and signs brought to the site of the tragedy and left there by people from all walks of life who just needed to do something in response to the overwhelming grief and horror of this massive tragedy.

There should be similar shrines popping up at hospitals and clinics in other cities all over the country. They should be everywhere.

The death of two children in a bus crash produced this makeshift memorial in Tennessee. The death of more than 4,000 “babies” in Cleveland a year ago today either has or has not produced a similar outpouring of grief.

A formal memorial service there in Cleveland should mark the occasion, with somber remarks from clergy and from political leaders. It should be broadcast on CNN live, and on all of the major networks — ABC, NBC, CBS — who should be cutting away from regular programming for the special coverage just as they had on 9/11/03.

Gov. DeWine should be speaking, and Sen. Portman, and former Gov. Kasich — even though he shouldn’t be a popular figure in Ohio or anywhere else, because he should be forever suspect for having allowing this massacre to happen on his watch. Here as everywhere his presence would invoke murmurs of “Kasich’s Katrina” and whispers of how he should have done more to prevent this, and more to respond afterward.

But such thoughts would be set aside today because today should be a day for mourning, not for politicizing the death of so many children. Four thousand children. Four thousand babies. Vice President Pence should be flying to Ohio to be the keynote speaker at the memorial service, bringing with him a somber expression of condolence written on behalf of the president.

The highlight of the service — part of which we should expect be shown on every cable and local news program throughout the day — would be the four minutes of silence in honor of the dead children, each minute representing more than a thousand precious young lives lost.

Even for those of us watching the service on television, this time would be reverent and unsettling and heart-breaking.

The Cleveland memorial service would not be the only one, of course, no more than the service in lower Manhattan was the only such service on the second anniversary of 9/11. In every city or town in America large enough to have its own Walmart there would be some similar gathering with elected officials and clergy offering similar remarks of condolence and grief and resolve.

Yes, every such service would involve some element of cynical grandstanding — with politicians maneuvering to take whatever advantage they could of the massive public sentiment around this tragedy. But the outpouring of emotion would be so widespread, so deep and overwhelming and heartfelt, that all of these thousands of memorial services would be necessary. We — collectively, unanimously — would need them as a way to give formal expression to the grief and horror we all felt on that day two years ago and that we have all carried with us ever since.

The subject would dominate social media for the entire day. “Cleveland” would be the No. 1 trending topic, but most of the rest would be variants on the theme — “University Hospital,” “3/9/18,” “Ahuja,” “Beachwood,” any of which would produce a special black ribbon emoji when typed into Twitter. And because social media is also an expression of our national id, there would be darker, angrier trending topics and conspiracy theories as well — “KillerCPP” and “Inside Job” and “FalseFlag” and the like.

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