“Have you forgotten/ How it felt that day to see your homeland under fire/ And her people blown away?"— Darryl Worley
I was sitting at the bar arguing with this old-school barfly about the situation in Iraq. He was on a rant about how the recent election there proved that all the antiwar liberals here in America were wrong about Iraq, and they are really nothing more than a bunch of cowards and traitors, etc.
When he was finished with his Irant, I asked him, “So remind me again, why exactly did the Iraqi people deserve to be bombed, then invaded, then converted into a puppet regime of the United States?”
Without hesitation he responded, “You know, because of 9-1-1 and shit!”
Ah yes, “Because of 9-1-1 and shit.” Brilliant. With the 9/11 Justification, it doesn't even matter that no connection between Iraq and Sept. 11 was ever found. All you have to do is conjure the ghastly images of that day and you can get away with anything, even war.
For instance, here we are, some three years later, and you still have government agencies using 9/11 as an excuse to obfuscate the records of entirely unrelated cases. You've got the attorney general using 9/11 to tamper with our civil liberties via the Patriot Act. You've got George Bush using 9/11 to detain hundreds of human beings without due process.
The 9-1-1 excuse is so effective it has been used in court as a defense for drunk driving, robbery, sex crimes and assault and battery. Like Michael Silvestri, a fireman in Staten Island who claimed that it was the “post-traumatic stress” from Sept. 11 that made him brutalize his ladder-mate with a metal chair.
Apparently, they were all just chilling at the firehouse when Silvestri called fellow firefighter Robert Walsh a faggot. Walsh said something back, and because Michael Silvestri don't take no lip from no gay faggot types, he beat Walsh about the face with a metal chair until Walsh fell unconscious in a pool of his own blood. When asked by the prosecutor why he did it, Silvestri answered, “You know, because of 9-1-1 and shit.”
But of all the misuses of the 9-1-1 excuse, none are so insufferable as when Darryl Worley put it too music. It's called “Have You Forgotten,” and, oh Lordy, is this song a canker in the colon of all that is right and good-what with its bilious chorus repeating over and over again, “Have You Forgotten/ When those towers fell?/ We had neighbors still inside/ Going through a living hell.” The accompanying video is an orgiastic collage of images from 9/11: pictures of burning towers, racing ambulances, firemen entering buildings, the Pentagon smoking, the shrines at ground zero, soldiers marching off to a war, then fading to a silhouette of the sapmaster himself, Darryl Worley, as he bows his head and clenches both fists to show the depth of his anguish.
Yeah, man, you can't argue with a 9-1-1 invocation.
It's so effective that I've begun to employ the 9/11 Justification in my daily life. For instance, the other day W. requested I clean up the house while she was out shopping. When she came home and found me playing Xbox Live and the house still a mess, she became angry.
“Goddammit, Ed,” she spat, “I asked you to clean up today and all you did was play Ghost Recon 2?”
“But honey,” I said, still concentrating on the game screen, “have you forgotten that 3,000 people are dead because of a senseless act of terror on our homeland?”
“Oh God, babe,” she said, her tone softening, “I did forget. I'm so sorry.”
“Xbox brings me comfort during these perilous times,” I whimpered, while continuing fire at the enemy combatant who stumbled into my crosshairs. “Die, you twin-tower-bombing terrorist-prick-ass,” I screamed, “Die! Die!”
“My poor baby,” said W., putting her arms around me and gently rocking us both on the recliner, “My poor, sensitive baby.”
Last week a customer came into my bar and ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. When I told him we were out of Sierra Nevada, he became agitated. “What the hell kind of bar runs out of Sierra?!” he demanded.
“I'm sorry, man,” I said, snapping open a bottle of Budweiser. “The gal who makes the beer order hasn't been the same since, you know, since 9/11 and shit.”
“I'm so sorry,” he said, the anger instantly dissolving from his face, “a Budweiser will do just fine.”
He tipped me a fiver out of guilt and walked over to the jukebox and played the sweet, warmy sounds of Darryl Worley.
“I hear people saying we don't need this war/ I say some things are worth fighting for....”
Then he returned to his stool, and together we sang the chorus along with Darryl Worley.
“Have you forgotten/ How it felt that day?”
A young lady came up to the bar to see what was the ruckus. She leaped into song with us.
“Have you forgotten/ All the people killed?”
Then a couple playing pool joined in, waving their pool sticks in the air and bellowing out the lyrics.
“Have you forgotten/ About the Pentagon?”
And soon everyone in the bar was belting out, “Have You Forgotten?”-belting it out at the top of our lungs, belting it out because of 9-1-1 and shit, belting it out as if to say, “Yo hey, America was attacked goddammit! That means we can do whatever we want. The world is our beach ball, and we can pop it whenever we like. Don't you forget it.” B
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and editor@SDcitybeat.com.