So it's the faggots and the feminists who are responsible for obliterating over 5,000 lives in the single most devastating act of terrorism ever perpetrated on U.S. soil. At least that's what Jerry Falwell and his crony in hatred and ignorance, Pat Robertson, are saying. In a stunning display of single-minded stupidity, they also lay blame on the ACLU, abortion rights advocates, and, curiously, the pagans. Our blithering idiot of a president says this is a war that we are going to win. Across the country, people are waving flags and screaming for blood—and they aren't too discriminating about whose blood, either. Mosques are being defaced, ordinary Joes who happen to be the wrong color are being attacked. I don't feel like waving a flag, I feel like crawling under the covers. I am embarrassed to be an American.

I grew up in the shadow of the World Trade Center. As a malcontent Jersey girl, those towers were emblematic of the freedom I craved. I'm not talking a flag-waving, red-white-and-blue-wearing brand of freedom like Bush keeps yammering on about, either; I'm talking the freedom to dress weird without fear of reprisal, listen to music no one else in my town liked, and have sex with foxy, freaky boys who occasionally dressed like girls. Sure, those towers were big, hulking masses and fairly ugly to boot. What they really symbolized was unabashed greed, capitalism, and the ilk, but that's not what my teenaged brain perceived—I saw them more as a gateway to a life I desperately wanted. Though I couldn't quite see the towers from my wood-paneled bedroom, I always knew they were out there, just across the Hudson, and that was comforting.

Some of the first photographs I ever took were from the World Trade Center observation deck. I guess it was 1978 or so when my dad decided to take my mom out for a fancy anniversary dinner at Windows on the World—the schmancy restaurant at the top of one tower. He left home clad in his best double-knit leisure suit—a vision in faux denim with rustic orange stitching (my dad has never been remotely fashion-forward; even in style-unconscious New Jersey, those atrocities had been out for years). They returned home an hour later. He told me they'd been turned away because he was wearing denim; apparently the mae d' didn't distinguish between the real stuff and the petrochemical-based substitute.

Like most people, I woke up Tuesday to hear the horrific news from downtown Manhattan. I must've watched the footage of that second plane searing through the second tower a hundred times by now. It still gives me goose bumps. I keep wondering what those people on the airplane must've been thinking just before they slammed into the building. I wonder if they knew what was coming. And what must those office workers have been feeling as they watched those gigantic planes zooming directly toward them?

Most of my family lives in New York. They're all OK. My brother called on Wednesday morning to let me know that a guy from my high-school class is among the missing, as are five people who live on his block in New Jersey. My stepmom's grandson was en route to the Pentagon for a field trip when that plane hit. My friend's ex-boyfriend just happened to be out of his World Trade Tower office as the building got slammed. I'm sure I'll hear many more stories, but so far I've been lucky.

I know that we have to punish the people responsible for this atrocity. But we also have to look at our country realistically. The rest of the world does not see us as the benevolent example of freedom and democracy that we think we are. I am far from politically astute, but even I can see that. Our CIA helped Osama bin Laden at one time! We have supported terrorists many times when it has advanced our agenda. I'm not saying that we deserved this by any stretch, but we are not the knights in shining armor we delude ourselves into thinking we are.

I guess at some point I'll get angry about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, but for now I'm just sad. I keep thinking about everyone who died and all those who loved them—my heart is breaking for them. Our president says that this is a war that we can win, but I think we've already lost.

Write Dategirl@seattleweekly.com or Dategirl, c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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