Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Uber Day: 9/11


It’s that season again. For commemoration – of the bravery and innocence of lost lives? For celebration – of a vigorous and determined national response – and vigilance – renewed against so many dark threats? Or for trying to understand – the meaning of ‘9-11’ –  a kind of “uber-day” in contemporary world history.

On one side, the day stimulated appetites for revenge, and satiated similar desires of some on the other side. Billions were shocked and saddened. But it was possible, on that day, to be saddened and shocked, yet also entertain or risk a suspicion that some strange justice had been brought – however cruelly – to right a ship of so many past wrongs. To some cool observers and perhaps Buddhists, the chickens had come home to roost. For everyone, the day decisively birthed the ‘War on Terror’, compromising the future and making everyone into losers.

My freshman students were only four or five years old on the ‘9-11’. Significantly, they stand as the first big crop of American citizens who remember little if anything at all of the finer and vivid details of that particular day. Time has freighted away the immediacy of the day, yet also guarantees that its meaning is forever protean in the hands of teachers, politicians, media personalities, political extremists and other interested parties. Most of my students have sparse understandings of the political conditions contributing to ‘9-11’, and incomplete, often very confused, understandings of the kinds of demons loosed in the world on that soon to be overburdened day.

Unfortunately, many politicians, national security establishmentarians, and extremists are quietly in love with ‘9-11’, and its progeny, the ‘War on Terror. They have gained a credit card, cloaking device, Trojan horse, and popular marching song all wrapped up in one package, with a half-life of about another generation, I am unhappy to surmise. It’s an irresistible lodestone in relation to cynical politicians and Machiavellians inside and outside of governments everywhere. Flip this political coin and accusations against the terrorist or accolades supportive of authoritarianism are as likely to land face up.

‘9-11’ and the ‘War on Terror’ are implicated in the causal chains that disabused souls of wishing for and imagining a “New World Order” or of “turning swords into plowshares” post Cold War; that continue to spawn “new modes and orders” of discipline and starve the “welfare state” at home and elsewhere; that destabilized and entrenched Americans in the perennial imperialist hunting ground of Afghanistan; that liquidated antiquities, resources, and a half million innocent lives of Iraqis while contracting for and building up a desert of hatred in their place; that brought drones and moans of smaller wars to Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria and more; and that now threaten to spread wildfire out of Syria to Lebanon or Jordan or Iran?

As such, ‘9-11’ is also the sad day that “keeps on taking”. It is both thief and hostage-taker, robbing Americans and humanity of precious resources, imprisoning intellects, and fouling moral compasses.

I have commemorated the day in a poem titled, “Uber Day.” I am left wondering what are the implications of starting to erase the vivid details of the day from our collective memory, while remaining tied to a future so painfully subject to its grim uses and consequences? What might be done to help construct the conditions under which the meaning of ‘9-11’ might begin to contribute to a more honest and responsible approach to resolving tensions between the West and the Arab/Muslim worlds? Here it is:

Uber Day

All were sad, many fearful, some angry.

Disaster had exploded the imagination.


The sharpness of the visceral

spliced onto deep traditions of

inattentiveness to blame –

causal and moral –

keeping self-examination and implication

remote as a foreign land.


Leaders lied, pacified some, lusting after others.

Disaster whet dreams of power.


The coldness of their deliberation

froze fears and tears of the otherwise passive

into discipline, destruction,

and screams of innocents –

ripping then rippling

onto the future.

Michael Bradley is a professor of political science and philosophy and a contributor to Counterpunch (“The Dawning of a Liberal Apologetics for Iraq”, March 31, 2010 and “The Syrian Debate”, Sept. 6-8, 2013). He can be reached at



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017