Let the exploitation begin!

It’s the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and the airwaves are again filled with shots of people crying over lost loved ones and emotional recollections on the part of newscasters of the terrible day when they were forced to stop being entertainers and start doing their jobs. Could even the robotic Katie Couric manage to squeeze out a tear? I’m not sure -- I turned off “Today” before I could find out.

9/11 was a terrible event, and it needs to be remembered. But the return of all those horrible images, not to mention all the interviews with survivors and their loved ones just seems almost ... pornographic.

No offense to the people in the Midwest who want to feel part of the national tragedy, but I live in Washington, D.C. -- official terrorist target number two. On October 1, 2001 I was among the first civilians given a tour of the Pentagon crash site -- I stepped into the building through the scorched gash left behind by Flight 77’s impact, saw the damage that it wrought on the structure. The Pentagon’s role in 9/11 is very real to me -- I saw the deserted, half-preserved offices of people who died in the building, the family photographs still on the walls. Bookshelves, office supplies, coffee cups left behind -- it was like an ash-ridden Marie Celeste. This isn’t entertainment -- people’s lives were torn apart by this. I think of this every time I return to New York and see the absence of the Twin Towers in the skyline, or pass the Pentagon on the yellow line out to Virginia.

A tasteful memorial is fine, but too much memorial and it becomes a circus -- a show. People far-removed from the impact of the attacks can watch Fox News and get misty-eyed along with Brit Hume just like they would if they were watching a movie on Lifetime. Without at all thinking about how this affects the survivors and their families. The President can use 9/11 next year for the Republican National Convention and to show what a strong guy he is -- he’s the action hero President, almost a star in the 9/11 cinematic epic, like Bill Pullman in Independence Day.

But 9/11 not a movie -- it is a real event. And it deserves more dignity than what the media is giving it. I know that I will not be watching the news today out of respect for those who died.