"when is enough enough?"

Actually, I'm having a hell of a time finding what I guess has to be called a news report with that headline. It's on page two of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but (surprise!) it does not appear at the Inquirer's web site, but it carries the New York Times byline.

So why can't I find "When is enough enough?" In despair, I googled the first sentence of the story -- "Again it comes, for the sixth time now, falling for the first time on a Tuesday, the same day of the week." Sure enough, that made the story appear. Not in the Inky (which for contractual reasons is probably allowed to run the Times stories in print but not on its website), but in the Times (and others). Only, the Inquirer has changed the headline from the original, "As 9/11 Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How Much Tribute Is Enough?" Here's the second sentence:

Again there will be the public tributes, the tightly scripted memorial events, the reflex news coverage, the souvenir peddlers.
And the third, which combines another rhetorical question with repetition:
Is all of it necessary, at the same decibel level -- still?
And we finally come to the real issue. Americans are suffering, not from being at war, but from a thing called "9/11 fatigue." It's "annoying."
Each year, murmuring about Sept. 11 fatigue arises, a weariness of reliving a day that everyone wishes had never happened. It began before the first anniversary of the terrorist attack. By now, though, many people feel that the collective commemorations, publicly staged, are excessive and vacant, even annoying.

"I may sound callous, but doesn't grieving have a shelf life?" said Charlene Correia, 57, a nursing supervisor from Acushnet, Mass. "We're very sorry and mournful that people died, but there are living people. Let's wind it down."

Grieving? Is that all it's about? Why a nurse? This was an act of war, wasn't it?

9/11 is said to be "complicated" by "contours" -- especially because presidential candidates still refer to it:

Sept. 11, of course, remains complicated by its unfinished contours -- continuing worry over terrorism, the war in Iraq, a presidential race in which candidates repeatedly invoke the day and its portents. Episodes like the fire at the vacant Deutsche Bank building stir up haunting memories. Books rooted in the attack continue to arrive.
It's nice to know that terrorism has been reduced to a mere "worry." And the only reason the word "war" comes up is because we're still in Bush's silly war in Iraq. Why, if only we got rid of that, we'd be able to forget about everything, and relegate 9/11 to the status of a tornado or a bridge collapse:
Some people are troubled by what they see as others' taking advantage of the event. "Six years later, we can see that a lot of people have used 9/11 for some gain," said Matt Brosseau, 27, of Westfield, N.J. He sees the public tributes as "crassly corporatized and co-opted by false patriots."

"Me personally, I wouldn't involve myself in a public commemoration," he said. "I don't see the need for an official remembrance from the city or anyone else. In six years, is Minneapolis going to pay for something for the people who died in the bridge collapse?"

David Hendrickson, 56, a computer software trainer who lives in Manhattan, said he began being somewhat irritated by the attention to the commemoration on the third anniversary. "It seems a little much to me to still be talking about this six years later," he said. "I understand it's a sad thing. I understand it's a tragedy. I've had my own share of tragedies -- my uncle was killed in a tornado. But you get on. I have the sense that some people are living on their victimhood, which I find a little tiring."

I think these folks have touched on what may be the chief concern -- that regardless of whether enough is enough this year, we've simply got to establish for once and for all that enough will be enough in advance of next year. 9/11/08 is just too close to the election. You just can't have people thinking along the lines of "we will remember in November."

Or am I being unfair to the Times? Shouldn't I be giving them the benefit of the doubt here? Maybe they think it's a pain in the ass to dwell on what they consider old news year after year, so they're churning the waters a little in an attempt to get people to think. But asking solid rhetorical questions like "How Much Is Enough?" and by announcing that there's a "debate" based on a few quotes, might they be trying to "encourage critical thinking"?

I find that hard to swallow, because as remembrances go, they're devoting an enormous amount of time to an event much older and arguably less important than 9/11 -- the death of Princess Di:

Times Topics: Princess of Wales Diana

News about Diana, Princess of Wales, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.

What's on Tonight

…Blair struggle with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales , in this semibiographical…45 P.M. (Starz Cinema) DIANA: THE WITNESSES IN THE TUNNEL…taken in the tunnel the night Princess Diana was killed to tell the story of…

September 1, 2007 - By KATHRYN SHATTUCK - Arts

Princes Remember Diana as Loving Mother

…LONDON (AP) — Princess Diana should be remembered…criticism from one of Diana’s friends that…attending. To the princess, her close friends…anniversary of the princess’ death. This year…a rock concert on Diana’s birthday, July…

September 1, 2007 - By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - World

A Memorial for the World's Princess

…anniversary of the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales , was simple…fevered time after Diana's death on…more to remember the princess. Flowers covered the…Kensington Palace, where Diana lived, and several hundred…

September 1, 2007 - By SARAH LYALL - World

    Today in History - Sept. 1

    …America. Ten years ago: As Britain continued to mourn the untimely death of Princess Diana, there came word from a source in the Paris prosecutor’s office that Diana’s driver, Henri Paul, was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash…

    September 1, 2007 - By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    EDITORIAL; In the Decade Since

    …Has it been 10 years already since Diana died? So it seems, and the best…calendar. It s the photographs of Diana, Princess of Wales, staring out at us from…perhaps, is one of the ways to tell Diana s story a shimmering wisp of the…

    August 31, 2007 - Opinion

    What's on Tonight

    …lend their voices. 8 P.M. (WE) DIANA REVEALED Ann Curry is the host of…draws on a controversial videotape of Diana, Princess of Wales , speaking frankly about…respect of the royal family. At 10, Diana: The Night She Died examines the…

    August 31, 2007 - By KATHRYN SHATTUCK - Arts

    After 10 Years, Fascination With Diana Hardly Fades

    …29 Ten years have passed since Diana, Princess of Wales , died and Britain erupted…where she lived, is devoted to Diana: A Princess Remembered. Crowds are still…and having picnics beside the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fountain…

    August 30, 2007 - By SARAH LYALL - World

      What's on Tonight

      11 P.M. (9) PRINCESS DIANA : THE LEGEND AND LEGACY OF A PRINCESS Joan Collins is host of this 90-minute special…after she left the royal family. In The Spirit of Princess Diana, immediately following, psychics take a look at…

      August 28, 2007 - By KATHRYN SHATTUCK - Arts

      On 10th Anniversary, 'Dianabilia' Takes Over

      A DECADE ago, Diana, Princess of Wales, became a powerful princess…the Mystic Stamp Company, with a Princess Diana colorized British penny ; and the…limited edition figurine devoted to Diana, princess of our hearts. It no longer raises…

      August 27, 2007 - By STUART ELLIOTT - Technology

      As well as a special crepe-draped ten page “slide show” tribute:

      Remembering Diana

      Why is it that the Times just can't seem to get enough of Lady Di? And why no articles asking when enough is enough? Might it be that the issue is not so much when enough is enough, but when the Times says it's enough?

      Back to today's editorial story report argument-dressed-as-report:

      Mental health practitioners see a certain value in the growing fatigue.

      "It's a good sign when people don't need an anniversary commemoration or demarcation," said Charles R. Figley, the director of the Florida State University Traumatology Institute. "And it's not disrespectful to those who died."

      Of course, Dr. Figley is only talking about the 9/11 civilian victims who died in in the most horrific enemy attack ever inflicted on American soil -- by an enemy with whom we're still at war. (As opposed to Lady Di.) Obviously, Americans can't be expected to get over everything.

      I can't help noting parenthetically that Dr. Figley is an expert on "Compassion Fatigue" and he has authored a book titled "Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community." I haven't read the book, so I'm sure I'm oversimplifying, but I hope he assigns at least as much value to 9/11 fatigue as he does to the fatigue of animal care workers.

      Certainly, there's no denying that there is such a thing as "compassion fatigue" in rescue workers and trauma specialists. But is that the same thing as the anger experienced by Americans who saw their country attacked on 9/11? Sure, there was plenty of compassion for the victims, but wasn't there more than that?

      What about the desire to make sure that 9/11 never happens again? What about defeating the people who did it, so that they cannot do it again? Compassion for the victims, while certainly a factor, is hardly dispositive. In this respect, the Times' focus on "compassion" is seriously misplaced.

      There may be "fatigue" in the minds of those the Times quotes, but I don't think it's compassion related.

      We're in a war, right?

      Yeah, I keep asking.

      Is there such a syndrome as "War Denial Fatigue"? Or would it be Pacifist Fatigue?

      Well, what would you call the condition of being sick of pacifists who refuse to accept that their country was attacked and that the enemy has not yet been defeated?

      I'm being sarcastic, of course, as I don't believe in any such "disease." The problem is, the people I'm sick of would probably diagnose me as sick. (So perhaps the best defensive diagnosis is an offensive diagnosis.)

      UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin has a picture which I think goes to the heart of the fatigue debate:



      The photo of the morning comes from reader John M., who e-mailed: "I am sending you a picture of graffiti that was photographed in Sacramento California on the I 80 on-ramp heading east to Reno. It first read "Stop the War." Someone did what I wanted to do and crossed out the stop and added 'Win' in front."

      Which will it be?

      Depends on whose fatigue is more indefatigable!

      UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link and a warm welcome to all. Comments always appreciated.

      posted by Eric on 09.04.07 at 09:11 AM


      It would have been better graffiti to just add "by winning" to the end - easier to read, what with having no ineffective crossing out.

      Sigivald   ·  September 4, 2007 5:31 PM

      Interesting that many people can only conceive of this in terms of grief and tragedy, not commemoration. It seems rather a failure of emotional depth.

      Assistant Village Idiot   ·  September 5, 2007 9:00 AM

      I think you've hit it on the head, what with your repeated asking of the question "We're in a war, right?"

      Because for some segment of the population, the answer to that is no.

      And that segment of the population is tired of the cognitive dissonance that the 9/11 commemorations cause them. By reminding them that what happened on 9/11 is different than what happened in Minneapolis, or even in Louisiana, they are forced to contemplate that maybe we were attacked and we need to defend ourselves.

      brian   ·  September 5, 2007 9:11 AM

      Speaking of fatigue, when are we getting over the Pearl Harbor thing? I swear they've been going on about that for as long as I can remember.

      RPD   ·  September 5, 2007 9:18 AM

      Thanks NYT! Now I guess we can tell New Orleans to "get over it", eh?

      Shallow bunch of...

      Major John   ·  September 5, 2007 9:22 AM

      AVI, Eric, and all:

      this post reminds me of the framework of Peter Hitchens's great book, The Abolition of Britain.

      He contrasts the dignified state funeral of Winston S. Churchill, who passed away in 1965 after a lifetime of service to humanity, to the juvenile camera-ready grieve-a-thon that attended the interment of Diana Spencer.

      It's worth recalling that Ms Spencer splatted like a bug on a windshield, ending a superficial and narcissistic life, untainted by achievement.

      Hitchens's book is well written and full of engaging ideas and examples. (I know, I sound like I'm astroturfing for his publisher. Seriously, I just liked the book and think you might like it, too. Maybe I should say the binding is cheap or something to restore my credibility).

      Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien   ·  September 5, 2007 9:23 AM

      Can't "get over it." Sorry. Still angry.

      I didn't know anybody who died on the planes, were burned to death, jumped, or were crushed in the collapses, but I want them avenged.

      I guess I'm just some kind of yahoo.

      Tom W.   ·  September 5, 2007 10:05 AM

      I don't read the Times anymore, but I have a question.
      Did they mention the anniversary of the founding of Solidarity right around the same time or is enough enough when talking about the downfall of their favorite totalitarian system of gov't?

      Veeshir   ·  September 5, 2007 10:18 AM

      Matt Brosseau of Westfield, NJ calls himself an “Ultra-liberal transplant to Jersey from Vermont, where I worked on Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch's campaigns in 2006, and Dr. Dean's in 2000.”

      Enlighten-NewJersey   ·  September 5, 2007 10:30 AM

      "I didn't know anybody who died on the planes, were burned to death, jumped, or were crushed in the collapses, but I want them avenged.

      I guess I'm just some kind of yahoo."

      According to the NYT, yes. To the rest of the sane world, not so much.

      Dark Jethro   ·  September 5, 2007 10:50 AM

      Perhaps a better headline for the NYT story would be "Shhh...go back to sleep".

      Dave E.   ·  September 5, 2007 11:29 AM

      Am I the only one that noticed that the NEW YORK Times had to go to Mass. and New Jersey to get its quotes about how we need to "get over it"?

      Phelps   ·  September 5, 2007 11:46 AM

      Faugh. Never forget.

      Peregrine John   ·  September 5, 2007 12:17 PM

      an event much older and arguably less important than 9/11


      Shelby   ·  September 5, 2007 12:18 PM

      Whenever I see a "Peace is Patriotic" sign, I mentally replace it with "Victory is Patriotic". I feel much better.

      Paul   ·  September 5, 2007 1:11 PM

      I have been fatigued of Bill Maher forever, yet every time I turn on HBO looking for a movie, there his mug is. Didn't Bushitler McHaliburton have him dissappeared or something?

      moptop   ·  September 5, 2007 1:53 PM

      My definition of "false patriot" is somebody who doesn't believe that defense of his fellow countrymen is justified.

      moptop   ·  September 5, 2007 1:59 PM

      I live in NYC and worked on Wall St for many years. I also live in Queens where many of the firemen who worked so hard to save people are from. I remember for at least a year photos and notices on light poles and sign posts asking if anyone has seen or heard or has any information about this or that loved one. I remember all the firehouses with pots of flowers and commemorative candles out in front.My best friend's son had just left his job in the WTC and the whole staff he supervised died in the WTC - 50 people.

      I used to change subways under the WTC every morning and that particular morning I had to stop on the way to pick up batteries for my hearing aids or I would have been under the WTC about the time of the crash.

      I cannot forget or forgive what happened that day. It is not too much to think that the events of our being attacked are worthy of remembering and trying ensure that it does not happen again.

      I will also not forget that my junior senator (**spit**) Saint Hillary was the only member of the New York delegation to the senate and house who could not be bothered to make time to see the police and firemen when they came to testify in DC a month later. Saint Hillary was too busy finishing her book to see them. Even Chuckie the schmuck made time.

      I used to take a bus going home that would go past the WTC hole in the ground. The sight still hurts. I remember my next door neighbor who was a heavy equipment construction worker and spent 2 weeks volunteering to run the scoops there while they were looking for bodies and possible survivors. He worked 18 hours a day doing that, came home, showered, slept, and then went back to do it all over again. Where do these people get off on saying that it should not be honored even now. What kind of world do they inhabit that this does not matter.

      dick   ·  September 6, 2007 12:56 AM

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