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What Class Are You?
Ruling 25%
Leisure 18%
Middle 6%
Working 6%
Lower 0%
Under 6%
Fuck You, Commie! 18%
Kinrgartn. Next yer I get to use th skinny crayonns! :) 18%

Votes: 16

 9/11 and Class Conflict

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Feb 08, 2002
Now that a few months have passed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Taliban is a but a memory, and Osama Bin Laden is cowering behind a wig and glasses somewhere in Somalia, jumping into the air and screaming like Scooby-Doo every time the takeout food delivery guy knocks at the door, I feel that it is safe to address what is to me a disturbing implication of the events of that terrible day, and of our reaction to them as a nation.

More diaries by Chocolate Milkshake
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Myron Schell, inventor of "first post!", dead at 47
Christmas is child abuse
Fellowship Of The Rings Comparative Movie Review
The Consolation of Melancholy
The Lesson of Black Hawk Down
I'm very disappointed with Noam Chomsky
Thoughts on Lee Harvey Oswald's widow's affair with his Brother
Blade II And The Twilight Of Science
The Time To Act Is Now
Human Nature (the movie) and a question about hair
Four Spider-Man movies reviewed
Can't Sleep? Blame God.
Don't Do What Scooby-Doo Does
Summer Blockbuster Showdown!!!
The notion of class conflict is by and large verboten in the United States. Try bringing up the topic at the next social gathering you attend and you'll be met with the type of disapproving glare reserved for people who suggest euthanizing the retarded or throwing a scatophiliac wife-swapping party. And yet I feel this is a very relevant point in light of the way the terrorist attacks of September 11 have been enshrined in our collective memory.

There are several reasons why September 11 is a uniquely awful event in U.S., nay, world, history. First, the attacks were horribly deadly: thousands were killed. Second, the attacks were spectacular and televised. This is one of the main reasons why the World Trade Center attacks, which were seen on TV from start to finish, get so much more press than the attack on the Pentagon or the plane that was shot do^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H crashed near Pittsburgh. Third, they were the first major attacks by foreign terrorist on U.S. soil.

But note the disproportionate reaction in the media and the general public to the attacks. After all, thousands were killed at in the Yugoslav civil war, another explosive violent spectacle, and the media was content to aw-shucks a little, and move on. Over a half million were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, an event which was written off as an unfortunate tribal squabble by most news outlets. Why was September 11 so unique, why did we expect the world to stop what it was doing and mourn along with us? The unappetizing answer has to do with who died.

By and large, the types of people who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks were upper-middle class professionals. (and cops and firefighters, who died rescuing thousands of upper-middle class professionals), many of whom had direct ties to media professionals. The news reports after 9/11 were filled with testimonials by reporters, editors, commentators, anchorpersons, who knew someone who was either killed, or lost a loved one in the WTC attack. The attack, in other words, was a direct assault on the American ruling class.

It is this, I think that distinguished 9/11 as a unique historical event. When I was considering writing this up, I asked a friend if he thought 9/11 would have been perceived differently, if, say, the terrorists had flown the jetliners into a stadium filled with people attending a monster-truck rally. His response: "that would've been fuckin' hilarious!" Maybe this just means I should stop hanging around with jerks, but I think it is a clear indication of something. I can't help thinking that, if Al-Quieda had chosen to jet-bomb a trailer park rather than the WTC, that instead of grim ruminations about how "America will never be the same", there would have been a respectful two weeks of mourning, after which Conan O'Brien would start letting slip with the occasional "barbecued mullet" cracks.

Don't get me wrong: if Bush decreed tomorrow that all those creeps in Guantanamo were scheduled to be doused with gasoline and set alight, and that tickets would be sold for people to stand outside the prison holding hands and singing campfire songs, I'd consider shelling out for a couple. Still, with the news item about the recent armory explosion in Nigeria (over 1,000 killed) buried , ho-hum, in the international section of the newspaper in slightly smaller print than the story about British guy who raped the goat, I have a sneaking suspicion that, in the eyes of the media, some of us are more equal than others.


Mere bankers and merchants? (none / 0) (#1)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 02:40:57 AM PST
While these industrious fellows are necessary for the critical functinon they play in keeping the lights on and so forth, they are hardly the "ruling class". What is so aristocratic about trading stocks or counting up inventories of, you know, whatever it is they did such a good job of keeping track of? It's WORK for crying out loud!

I suppose from some point of view (I would hate to imagine how it feels to be such an individual) these busy bourgoise bees might seem to be "superiors" to firemen or chefs or custodial workers, but so what? I can tell you that looking down from above, they are all laborers of one kind of another, which gives them far more in common than any petty differences they might imagine.

I mean, some drink beer, others drink wine. But what kind of wine? White zinfandel! Honestly! "Ruling class"... Heh.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

So... (none / 0) (#2)
by Anonymous Reader on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 03:19:53 AM PST
When did you say that scatophiliac wife-swapping party was again?

Thanks, -- Anonymous Reader #24601

Maybe it's because... (none / 0) (#3)
by Orinoco on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 04:40:46 AM PST
An intriguing thesis for a rainy afternoon whiled away in a bar, but clearly the true reason that no one here got worked up very much over recent tragedies in Nigeria, Rwanda or Yugoslavia, is that none of the victims of those events were Unitedstatesians. They were Nigerwandaslavians mostly, and we don't have much interest in those kind. I don't, anyway.

China shares (none / 0) (#4)
by CommunistPartyAnimal on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 04:49:55 AM PST
America's sorrow

types of people (none / 0) (#5)
by fzr on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 06:30:25 AM PST
By and large, the types of people who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks were upper-middle class professionals. (and cops and firefighters, who died rescuing thousands of upper-middle class professionals).

...and cleaning staff, couriers, secretaries, canteen workers...

Anyway, I thought there was no such thing as upper-middle class in the US. Do you define them as such based on salary or "breeding"?

It isn't about breeding (none / 0) (#8)
by SpaceGhoti on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 12:09:03 PM PST
The people of the United States are beyond the day when mere accident of birth can impress us. Unless you're a Kennedy, or a Rockefeller, or...

The point is that your social class in the US is now all about the money. Used to be a snob but you aren't any longer? You must have lost your fortune. Looking to be a snob now that you have money? Just buy into the nearest country club.

"Upper middle class" is defined as having too much money to be responsible, but not enough money to jetset around in your own jet.

Does that help clarify your misunderstanding?

A troll's true colors.

Where's tkatchev? (none / 0) (#6)
by doofus on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 09:59:21 AM PST
the Taliban is a but a memory

I'm waiting for tkatchev, the grumpy old man of adequacy, to declare you to be an idiot American and demand that you conjugate the verb "to be" correctly (as third person plural, not singular).

Re: (none / 0) (#7)
by tkatchev on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 10:22:22 AM PST
Actually, "the Taliban" could be used to denote an organization. Similarly to "the UN" (United Nations) and "the US". (United States)

It's OK nowadays to say "the US is but a ...".

Peace and much love...

Good Point... (none / 0) (#9)
by Bad English on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 01:23:35 AM PST
I think it's about time the issue of class-consciousness was brought up regarding the events Sept. 11th. We're led to believe that this was an attack on the entirety of America, but I tend to believe that it was more of an assault against the values and ideals of the American aristocracy and the upper levels of the bourgeois. Chocolate Milkshake is correct in his assumption that if this was to have happened to a group of working class people or foreigners instead of a large collection of wealthy individuals, it would have quickly been forgotten, and that's an unfortunate aspect of today's media culture.

Don't be an idiot (none / 0) (#10)
by CommunistPartyAnimal on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 11:37:42 PM PST
The tallest buildings are the most expensive. Obviously. The big problem with Chocolate Milkshake's argument is that you wouldn't expect the working class to occupy the tallest buildings as this would be a clear impediment to industrial efficiency. And as for foreigners, in an efficient state, foreigners ought not be able to afford it.


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