Tuesday, August 31, 2004

New York's night

NEW YORK, NY--Oh, to be her blithely arch self, your blogstress cries. But tonight's doings at the Republican National Convention have left her bereft and at moments confused.

Even before this evening's confab a disheartening trend had commenced when the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization led by some very smart young men, tossed in the towel on the floor fight they had threatened, and then even gave up on the floor demonstration that one of their leadership had intimated was immanent, unless your cybertrix had just thoroughly misunderstood him.

The group did release an effective television advertisement, today, calling on their party to choose between the moderate and radical path. (See the Washington Blade.)

With former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani as the keynote speaker, tonight was clearly 9-11 night at the RNC. (Of course, with the convention located in New York, every night could be 9-11 night at the convention.) The brief remarks by each of three women who lost family members in the 9-11 attacks were genuinely moving, and the extended moment of silent prayer was profound. Then, when all of Madison Square Garden began to sing "Amazing Grace", your blogstress found her customary ironic detatchment impossible, becoming pretty choked up. Standing nearby, singing with tear-filled eyes was New York Governor George Pataki, who stood next to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who looked pretty watery-eyed himself. Pataki, however, really seemed to be suffering, patting his pocket in an apparent search for a handkerchief.

Your blogstress can't say how the 9-11 theme will play in the heartland, but for New Yorkers, the wound is still fresh enough to have grown men--politicians, no less--lose their composure in public. Your écrivaine feels manipulated, but nonetheless in the throes, thanks to the GOP program, of real grief.

And once again, our grief is being marshaled to justify a war that had nothing to do with 9-11. Our wounds are being picked to raise a head of anger that makes it all seem justified--the thousand Americans killed in Iraq, the thousands of Iraqis bombed, the journalists who came under fire from U.S. forces on one day in three separate locations, a phenomenon that has never been satisfactorially explained.

And it just might work. Nine-eleven is no distant memory. And even more than a massive tragedy, it speaks to the moment when America became a land of mere mortals, proven vulnerable to despair drawn by heinous acts committed by men from cultures for which we have always had contempt. And that really pisses us off.

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