Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 381, August 20, 2006

"The sort of slave rebellions that are coming in the next few years..."


World Trade Center: See It Again, For The First Time
by Jonathan David Morris

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

A guy I know told me the other day he doesn't plan on seeing Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. When I asked him why, he told me he doesn't feel the need to "relive" September 11th. I thought this remark was somewhat unusual.

World Trade Center is about two Port Authority police officers who were rescued after spending 24 hours pinned beneath the rubble.

Most of us—including me and the guy I was talking to—watched 9/11 happen from the comfort of our offices, classrooms, or homes.

I'm not saying you had to be at Ground Zero for 9/11 to affect you. I'm not saying you had to lose someone. I'm not even saying you had to have worried whether someone you loved would be lost. All of us were affected by 9/11—even those of us who weren't directly affected by it.

But if you didn't live through it in the sense that two guys pinned beneath the rubble lived through it, then how could World Trade Center possibly constitute re-living it?

Your whole 9/11 experience revolved around watching television. Wouldn't the only way to relive your 9/11 be a movie about people watching Fox News?

Maybe I'm just nitpicking here. Obviously, when people say they don't want to relive September 11th, they're talking about how they felt that day—not just what they saw. This makes me wonder if watching it unfold on live TV has warped our perspective, though. Generally speaking, not wanting to "relive" 9/11 sounds more like an excuse not to see World Trade Center than a reason not to see it.

In fact, a lot of the reasons people won't be seeing this movie sound more like excuses than reasons. Like the idea that it's "too soon." Or the idea that Hollywood shouldn't be telling stories about such an important part of our history.

How could it ever be too soon to tell stories about something so significant? Mankind has been telling stories about important events for thousands of years. Most of that time, we weren't even worried about storytellers taking artistic liberties. Just take the Gospels, which differ on small points such as Jesus's last words and whether he carried his own cross. Do these differences hurt the story? Of course not. The lesson prevails through each variation.

The same should be true about September 11th. There are so many perspectives from which this story could be told. From inside the Towers. From inside the Pentagon. Even from inside the classroom where George Bush was reading to those kids.

When someone tells me they don't want to relive 9/11, it sounds to me like the only perspective they want to consider is their own.

They don't want to see the debris clouds from inside the WTC concourse—as seen in World Trade Center. They don't want to see the struggle aboard the airplanes—as depicted by United 93. All they want to see is what they remember seeing while they watched 9/11 safely from home five years ago.

The first thing a lot of us said that morning was, "God, this looks just like a movie." And it's that very sense of detachment—the comfort that came with being able to turn off our televisions—that some people don't want to give up.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the wrong reason not to see World Trade Center. Maybe it would be the right reason if you were directly affected by September 11th. That's different. But the rest of us experienced those attacks secondhand. We never had to identify with the heroes; we just had to call them "heroes," feel bad for them, and send their families money.

World Trade Center will change that. It'll let you get to the real human heart of this story once and for all.

Make no mistake: This movie will make you emotional. You'll have flashbacks the next day. For lack of better expression, it's the next best thing to having been at Ground Zero. All I'm saying is, don't think of this as a deterrent. After all, you probably weren't at Ground Zero to begin with. The two officers this movie focuses on were.

You don't owe it to those guys—or to anyone, really—to see Oliver Stone's new picture. But before you tell me you don't want to relive September 11th, live through it again—for the first time—through the eyes of two men who survived.

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at


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