: Chris Hedges interviews psychoanalyst Charles B. Strozier about 9/11 and rage and comes out of it with a maddening New York Times story.
The doctor, who also teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “which lost 70 alumni in the attacks,” says he sees differences in the people’s reaction to 9/11 depending on whether they were there or whether they watched the horror on TV. What’s that difference? Strozier doesn’t seem to answer the question and Hedges doesn’t seem to push him.
“Those who viewed the event through the repeated images on television alone became numb,” he said. “The constant repetition of the image served to cut the disaster from reality. The images on televisions were more disorienting, more confusing and maybe more seductive. I knew from past studies that numbness leads not to anger but to rage, to anti-empathy, to undirected anger. The confusion of rage often pushes people towards violence. Numbing leads to a diminished capacity to feel.”
So what’s the line between “anger” and “rage” and “undirected anger”? This pushes viewers to violence — where; where have you seen that happen? Isn’t “numbing” defined as a “dimished capacity to feel?” But Hedges doesn’t push the points because, as it turns out, he wants to sneak in his own agenda. Hedges wrote the book “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” He wants somebody to say that war is bad. And the shrink says it in the last graph:
You cannot underestimate the difference between the experience and the image of the experience,” Dr. Strozier said.
“Those who lived in Lower Manhattan breathed in the smell of the dead for weeks, like those at Auschwitz. We all knew what the smell was even if we did not speak about it. The dust settled over huge sections of the city, from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side.
“The chaos and fear were real to New Yorkers. This made the experience authentic. New Yorkers were much closer to the suffering. It was harder to become numb to it. And while they may have been angry, they were less filled with rage,” the professor said. “It was much harder to get those of us who were there to believe in the notion that killing others would somehow make us safer.”
Crap. So they seem to be arguing that we went to war because most of the country watched 9/11 on TV, which caused some strange form of numb rage. They seem to be arguing that if it were up to the witnesses of 9/11, we wouldn’t be going to war.
Speaking as only one witness, I’d say that logic and experience say just the opposite. As I’ve written here over the last two years, it’s people on the other coast, far away from the horror, who have been more likely to say, “Get over it.” It’s people who witnessed the event who have clear cause for anger.
Hedges and Strozier want to belittle that anger by calling it “rage” and acting as if it’s out of control and irrational.
Well, we have a right to rage. And it has nothing to do with whether we were there or whether we watched what happened on TV. We know what happened: We were attacked that day and we are threatened every day since and we have to protect ourselves. We go to war out of rational need, not rage.
Right now, doc, I’m feeling rage and it’s directed at you and Hedges.