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May 24, 2004
Detroit News: 9/11 Families Ungrateful, Rude

Nolan Finley, the opinion editor of the Detroit News, has also lost all patience with the 9/11 victims' families that have chosen to politicize themselves and promote themselves at every opportunity. In a signed editorial yesterday, Finley scolds those who acted so rudely during former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's testimony last week:

America adopted the families of the September 11 terrorism victims, showered them with support and sympathy, and lifted them up as a living emblem of the national wound suffered.

But now, some of the family members are wearing thin.

Some groups have morphed into quasi-political organizations, using their mourner status to gain a platform for pushing their views on everything from immigration laws to the Patriot Act to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Others express their grief in the form of endless protest, rallying against the design of the September 11 memorial, carping about the inadequacy of the family compensation fund and demanding scapegoats at the highest level of government for the deaths of their loved ones.

The groups Finley describes represents a slight percentage of all the people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC. However, they act as though they not only represent every single victim, but that they represent America as a whole. Or, perhaps as an even better way to explain it, they act as if their grief gives them a higher priority in judging the investigation into the intelligence failures that led to 9/11 and the American response to terrorism in general.

This, of course, is ludicrous. For one thing, the attacks did not target those families specifically but New York and DC as a whole, and by projection the entire US. That these families lost loved ones was, in the terrorist calculation, simply coincidence. For another, the idea behind these foreign-policy initiatives and the investigations isn't -- or shouldn't be -- as some sort of revenge for 9/11 but to prevent another 9/11, or worse. In that cause, all of us have an equal investment. The 9/11 families are no experts nor are they superprivileged citizens.

And in the manner of their political efforts, they have proved themselves to be partisan, irresponsible, and just plain rude, as Finley notes:

A group calling itself September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows exploits its victim status to attack the Bush administration on issues ranging far afield from the terrorist attacks. They are leftists and peaceniks in mourners clothing. But theyre presented simply as September 11 families, allowing their rantings and ramblings to go out unfiltered. ...

Giuliani suffered as much as anyone on September 11. He was devastated by what happened to his city and his citizens. The strength and grace he displayed helped rally the nation. Yet on Wednesday, family members treated him like he was one of the terrorist hijackers, greeting him with derogatory signs and angry shouts. Giuliani endured the assault calmly, excusing the extreme rudeness as a byproduct of grief. Of course the families are off-limits to criticism.

But grief doesnt explain the increasingly inappropriate behavior of some September 11 family members. Greed might. Nearly as soon as the federal government established the $6 billion compensation fund an average $1.3 million per victim some survivors began squabbling over its size, who would be eligible and how much theyd get.

The emergence of the political 9/11 families demonstrates the recent American fixation on victimhood, where our heroes only come as a result of damaged lives. This trend portends danger for our country, as victims only remain thus when they do nothing as a result of the victimizing event. For instance, one of the major memes of the left is that America wasted the vast reserves of "goodwill" after the 9/11 attacks by responding militarily. In fact, the attacks allowed the left to wallow in the victimhood that they worship. The 9/11 families wish to continue to trade on victim-fascination as a sort of Narcissan pool in which we could die, staring into that image while we are attacked from without and within by Islamofascist terror.

Enough of the obsession with these families. We didn't obsess over Pearl Harbor's victims, and we managed to win that war. If we want to win this one, we'd better stop hoping to recapture our victimized image for the satisfaction of leftists abroad and start focusing on killing as many of the Islamofascists that we can find. Let the uberpolitical 9/11 families exercise the franchise, just like any other American, but otherwise their message has exceeded its expiration date.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 24, 2004 6:32 AM

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