The Children of Aftermath

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

3,000-some poems
Disguised as people
On an almost too-perfect day
Must be more than poems
In some asshole’s
Passion play
So now it’s your job
And it’s my job
To make it that way
To make sure
They didn’t die in vain
Shhhh…
Baby listen
Hear the train?

– Ani DiFranco, “Self Evident”

All across America, there are classrooms filled with fifth graders who only know the World Trade Center from pictures. They have achieved the final perfection of George Orwell’s vision – we have always been at war with Eurasia – because they have never known a world where their country has not been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. As with the Towers, some of these children only know a parent from pictures, because that parent was killed in those wars. They know what anthrax is, what an IED is, what WMD stands for. They know about fear, for it was fed to them, literally, with mother’s milk. For them, it has always been this way.

These children have never known a country that was not in an economic recession, for their country’s economy has been tottering on its feet like a punch-drunk prizefighter for the last ten years. Theirs is a country that has always tapped phones in secret, always imprisoned people without trial or due process of law, always tortured, always lived in a cocoon of fear and hatred that serves to justify virtually any act, no matter how barbarous or criminal or wrong. Politicians, in their world, have always used threats of terrorism to frighten, to control, to change the subject, to win elections, and to make money for themselves and their friends. There are no consequences for such vicious acts. For these children, it has always been this way.

They know about barbecues and baseball games, because those are still here. They know about video games and the internet, about skinned knees and summer vacation, but they also know so many savage things the rest of us consider “new,” things that didn’t exist ten years ago which are terrible and strange to us. For them, it has always been this way, and if the rest of us are not very careful, very vigilant, and very active, it will always be this way. Read story at Truthout

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