The 9/11 museum’s gift shop, revealed in photographs, looks actually insane. Like the idea of some crazy person. Except whole teams of insane people were needed to create it. The jaw actually drops in the face of it.
What happened that day and the days following saw not just the ravaging violence of the attack but the love and support and intense hard work of a community that called itself New York. The nation as a whole and its leadership had a need from the first to sentimentalize the event, whereas we needed to grieve. The nation needed to see “heroes” instead of “victims” among other things: it needed “hallowed ground” instead of what we saw, and knew: a cavernous ragged heap of rubble and body parts, in which men and women would have to work for months, through the night under the magnesium klieg lights, in the chemical air and endless dust, to separate the two, trying to preserve the human and cut away the steel and cement. This museum and its gift shop are the apotheosis of that false national narrative, a narrative that grew more and more false until it became openly deranged. To those of us who were here and experienced the event, this looks like the final development of the derangement, like a virus now perfectly evolved to preserve itself and do damage again and again. It is as venal and as vulgar and as lethal as the nation that demands it.
Does the museum have that smell? That acrid poisonous fucking smell that if you went downtown to volunteer you couldn’t get out of your clothes? Is there anything about our relationship with our dear friends the Saudis in the gift shop? Do they explain in a nice pamphlet why 20 of the 21 hijackers were Saudis, why the attack was ordered by a member of the Saudi royal family, why every important Saudi in the United States on 9/11 was whisked out of the country even while there was a no fly order in effect? Do they sell a T-shirt with tower silhouettes saying “9/11– We took one for Saudi Arabia.”?