Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

How quickly we forget.

In the wake of outsiders doing horrible things to us, how quickly we forget that we Americans often do horrible things to each other.

Yesterday in one of my education classes, the pointless one taught by the useless old professor I don't like, we were talking about the penalties for bringing firearms to school. He told an amusing anecdote about his son and his friends leaving their hunting rifles in their cars, parked on school property, so they could go hunting after football practice.

Someone made the comment that that was in a different time, that people weren't as jumpy as we are now.

"Yes," said the professor, in his annoying nasal whine, "we weren't as jumpy as we are now...since 9/11..."

How quickly we forget.

We were jumpy before 9/11. We were jumpy ever since the Columbine shooting.

How quickly we forget.

We were jumpy before the Columbine shooting. There had been school shootings before that. I remember when I was a sophomore, and some yahoo asked the principal why he wasn't allowed to keep hunting rifles in his car, as long as they were unloaded. We're were jumpier then than in the days of my professor's son and his carefree friends.

How quickly we forget.

We were jumpy even before many, if not all, of the school shootings. We were jumpy after Timothy McVeigh, who was, after all, an American, blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

I remember that that happened spring of my 8th grade year. That fall I went to high school, and we had the occasional bomb threat and had to stop class and go outside. Someone asked the principal why we had to take them so seriously, and he said, "I bet those people in Oklahoma City wished they had had a warning."

How quickly we forget.

Now we have a new, common foe. We have met the enemy and they are not us. No atrocities we Americans have visited on one another can compare to the atrocities foreign terrorists have visited on us.

The images of the smoking remains of the World Trade Center, the charred and damaged Pentagon building, the plane crash site in Pennsylvania block out the horrible images of students running from schools in terror and disbelief, the young man with the wounded leg crawling out the library window, the half-ruined Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

Is it because the images of 9-11-01 are still so fresh in our memory? Is horror visited on us by outside forces so much more horrible than those we visit on ourselves? Or is it because remembering the horrors we have visited on ourselves is unpatriotic in this time of national sorrow when we are asked to pull together? Are the lives of those who died at American hands less precious and less valuable than those who died at the hands of foreigners? Has the blood of those who died on September 11, 2001 washed away the guilt of those who have attacked their own countrymen?

How quickly we forget.

{This essay is a work in progress}
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