Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

The Graveyard of the American Empire: Visiting the National September 11 Memorial and Museum

Where were you when the towers fell?

I was in eighth grade in my second period computer class, learning how to use Microsoft Office under the direction of a mustachioed nun, when the news came over the loudspeaker. The nun immediately dropped everything and waddled over to the TV. Flipping on CNN, we saw the Twin Towers smoking, an image that was permanently seared into our brains. Our teachers didn’t even bother trying to educate our young minds that day; we just drifted from class to class watching TV in a state of shock and confusion.

We didn’t know it then, but that was the day the American Empire died.

Our ancestors truly were better men than us. Pearl Harbor inspired America to band together and kick Japanese ass. Of the eight battleships that were sunk in that attack, six were recovered and rebuilt within months. Our attention was focused where it belonged; on the imperialistic little cockroaches who bombed our navy. We smashed the Japanese, dismantled their military, banned their religion and turned them into a nation of hentai-addicted frotteurs. The tribe that once had all of east Asia quivering in their boots has been brought so low that they don’t even want to have sex anymore.

All 9/11 managed to inspire was a big group cry.

It took us just under a decade to find and kill Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11, and he was effectively being sheltered by Pakistan, our so-called “ally,” the entire time. We’ve been in Afghanistan for more than a decade and accomplished nothing; it’s all but accepted that the Taliban will retake control as soon as the last American chopper flees Kabul. We wasted eight years and trillions of dollars bringing democracy to Iraq, which inadvertently made the Iranians—our hated enemies—into a major power player in the Middle East. Even our most pussy-whipped allies are edging away from us, as shown by the caucus revolt David Cameron faced over Syria and Tony Abbott all but admitting that the Afghanistan war was a failure.

And it’s taken over a decade for anything to be done with what was left of the Twin Towers.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has been under construction only since 2006 and it’s still not finished. While the memorial part is open to the public, the museum isn’t scheduled to open until spring. Since I’ve been to the other major 9/11 memorial (in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed), I figured I’d check this one out as well.

september-11

My quest began at 20 Vesey Street, location of the 9/11 gift shop and ticket booth. At the moment, tickets are free, provided you don’t mind waiting or reserving them in advance. Strangely enough, the place wasn’t too crowded even though it was Veterans’ Day; I was in and out in ten minutes. To pass the time, I watched this surreal Schoolhouse Rock-esque cartoon being played on the TVs about a kid whose fireman father was killed on 9/11 or something.

While on the way down, I passed by Zuccotti Park, once home to #OccupyWallStreet, now home to a troupe of black men in orange Spandex doing acrobatics. I didn’t have time to witness the fun, unfortunately.

september-11

september-11

Some views I took in on the way down. The actual entrance to the Memorial is a few blocks down from the gift shop, at the corner of Albany and Greenwich. Tickets are only good for a specific day and time, so you have to hustle to make it to the Memorial.

september-11

The front entrance. Like the gift shop, it was shockingly vacant; I didn’t even have to deal with a line up until I got to the TSA screening room.

Wait, TSA screening room?

september-11

Oh yes: before you can enter the Memorial, you have to consent to an invasive, TSA-style screening; metal detectors, patdowns, the whole nine yards. I have no pictures of the actual screening room because photographing it is a felony. At least it’s heated, considering that it was about 40 degrees outside and we had to remove our coats. But it’s all necessary, you see. One of bin Laden’s many aggrieved relatives might try to sneak in a bomb to get revenge.

Anyone could be a terrorist, and we can never forget 9/11.

september-11

september-11

Inside the Memorial itself. It’s so unimpressive and dull you wonder why the hell it’s taking so long to be finished. It consists of two marble pools—basically artificial waterfalls—where the Towers were, with the names of everyone who died on 9/11 (along with those who died in the 1993 attack) engraved around the edges. The museum is situated between both pools, while the southwestern portion is dedicated to a bland tree-and-grass garden.

september-11

september-11

The South Pool, featuring the names of those who died in WTC South and the Pentagon as well as NYC first responders and all of the flights (except for Flight 11).

september-11

Close-up on first responder names. It’s a tradition at the Memorial to leave yellow roses at the pools to honor the dead.

september-11

september-11

september-11

Pictures of the North Pool, which has the names of those who died in WTC North and Flight 11. The victims of the 1993 attack are also thrown in for good measure.

september-11

september-11

That hideous, metallic block of cheese is the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Despite being finished (there’s no signs of construction around it), it still won’t open for another few months. America: fuck yeah.

september-11

A diagram explaining the layout of names on the pools. The Memorial is bizarrely short on explanatory info; most of what I know about it came from the pamphlet I picked up on the way in.

september-11

Another gift shop near the exit, by the Rector Street subway station. This one had a more overtly maudlin atmosphere than the Vesey Street one; the lights were dimmer and the projector showed a clip of various black women crying over and over. Copies of The 9/11 Commission Report were being sold in abundance.

Throughout the whole thing, I felt like a Russian anti-communist in the last days of the Soviet Union.

The 9/11 Memorial is so transparently propagandistic that it’s like the creators didn’t even care about being subtle. From Vesey Street all the way down to the second gift shop, I was constantly bombarded with nonsense about how 9/11 brought Americans together as a people, when it’s plainly obvious to anyone with a brain that Americans have never been more divided. Thanks to mass immigration, multiculturalism and feminism, any fellow feeling the average American has for anyone outside his immediate social circle is gone. About the only thing keeping this country from outright civil war is the fact that we’re a nation of lazy, ignorant slobs.

More importantly, the Memorial completely whitewashes the fact that 9/11 was a deliberate attack from our enemies.

Like I said before, our forerunners never engaged in this kind of degenerate hand-wringing. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we put the blame solely on them and got to work building up this nation and grinding our enemies into the dust. Even the Kennedy assassination inspired a renewed push for civil rights and the Great Society. You can question the wisdom of the policies enacted by Lyndon Johnson, but you can’t deny that the man got shit done.

Thanks to political correctness and cowardice, we Americans treat 9/11 like it was a natural disaster, something that just sort of happened, Hurricane Sandy with jet liners. President Bush’s genuflecting about Islam being a “religion of peace,” naming the campaign against bin Laden the “War on Terror,” the 9/11 Commission Report: it was all about avoiding dealing with the fact that we were attacked by Muslims who want us dead. The only place at the Memorial where the perpetuators are even acknowledged are in the free pamphlets, where the hijackers are referred to as being from the “Islamist extremist group al Qaeda,” and you just know that the Memorial’s backers would write this inconvenient fact out of history if they could get away with it.

In fact, the true 9/11 memorial isn’t the museum or the pools, as far as I’m concerned: it’s the TSA screening room you have to pass through to see either. That’s the true legacy of 9/11: the devolution of America’s managerial state into paranoia and psychosis. Having NSA goons reading our emails and cataloguing our Facebook statuses. The vicious interrogations CBP officers give to every American who has the audacity to leave the country. Being molested by mouth-breathing rednecks every time you want to board a plane.

The United States of America is a failed state, a fallen empire, only capable of coming up with new ways to impoverish, harass and dehumanize its citizens.

God bless America, my home sweet home.

Read Next: The Empire Never Ended