Had your fill of 9/11 porn yet? I guarantee if you turn on the TV at this moment on some channel there’ll be a plane crashing into a building and a nutter from the Midwest telling you it was organised by the Jews via the offices of the Zionist Occupation Government, the towers packed with thermite, the Pentagon hit not by an aircraft but by a missile, Rumsfeld an alien lizard creature, Charlie Sheen or some other madman asking why They keep lying to us. Or one of the more upmarket programmes — same shot of the planes crashing in and people jumping out of the windows, but done in slo-mo with accompanying music by La Monte Young or Philip Glass.
Those images were, for a while, considered contraband, deemed for some indeterminate period of time after 9/11 to be too harrowing to watch; but now we cannot get enough of them. Harsh though it may have been, there is some truth in the Guardian columnist Gary Younge’s observation that there is a certain narcissism evident in the relentlessness of the coverage; the crucial fact of the tragedy is not that 3,000 people may have been murdered, but that they were Americans, in America.
Less telegenically gratifying, but more revelatory, might be a detailed exposition of what has happened to us as an indirect consequence of 9/11: not just the wars we have embarked upon with fundamentalist liberal belligerence, but the other related stuff. The trivial and the less trivial; from the self-important security monkey patting down your five-year-old child at the airport to see if she’s packing a chunk of Semtex all the while telling you it’s for your own good, sir, would you stand back or I will have to contact the police, to the laws enacted theoretically to protect us from being similarly murdered but which are cheerfully deployed by every authoritarian institution in the country to make sure you haven’t put tea bags in your plastics-only waste bin, or to stop you taking a photograph at a railway station, or standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.