Distraction denied: I head to

Distraction denied: I head to the Blockbuster but keep driving; can’t bear stupid movies (but I’m the odd one — video rentals are up.) My copy of Jonathan Franzen’s novel was filled with pulverized World Trade Center when I ran away; I bought a new copy but can’t bring myself to pick it up. My favorite distraction, Howard Stern, has turned into a political show — and a damned good one — because he can’t get distracted either. I go to a sweet and witty kiddie concert from Tom Chapin but even a giggling 5-year-old can’t distract me. Am I ready for the new TV season? Ha! Oh, how I wish I could be distracted. But it’s going to take time.

The Axis alliance of this war: Extreme fundamentalist Muslims who hate America, extreme fundamentalist Christians (read: Falwell) who hate what America has become, and extreme fundamentalist liberals (read Matt Welch and Christopher Hitchens’ attack on them) who want to blame America for what has befallen it. They’re all dangerous lunatics. Shouldn’t we in the media be exposing and and ridiculing these kooks and cults? Isn’t that in our job description?

Bin Laden, in a smart

Bin Laden, in a smart piece on him and the Taliban in The Sunday Times of London: “He hoped soon to die a martyr so that he would ‘go to heaven and rest for ever.'” Except for that heaven part….

Now that we know what real heroes look like, it’s real hard to take seriously all the heroes we in the media and America created before the terror: that is, celebrities. This struck me first yesterday when I looked at The National Enquirer (hey, it’s all media), where we are asked to give a damn that Daniel Day-Lewis walked to a New York hospital with donated ice (the gift that stops giving real fast) and that temporary lesbian Anne Heche was in the same airport as terrorists on the 11th. OK, that’s the Enquirer. But I couldn’t shake this feeling of misplaced fame and adoration during last night’s all-star TV benefit for the attacks heroes and victims. Yes, every star there was there for a good cause and with a good heart; it’s not their fault we put them on pedestals. But there’s no room on those pedestals today. Rudy Guiliani is up there with hundreds of firemen and policeman and too many thousands of innocent victims.

Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter just declared irony dead. I beg to disagree that that is the cultural pulse of the moment. No, one meaning of the terror to us in the media and entertainment is that celebrity is almost as devalued as the Dow.

Already, we’re hearing TV anchors talking about how we are starting to “return to normal.” Stop! This is not — this better not be — normal. The day when we know a new normal — when we look up and realize we’re not about to cry or be afraid — is a long way off. Let’s all just agree that America is in a period of mourning at least through the end of the year and what is bound to be a very sad Christmas.

NJ.com and Staten Island Live.com, our local web sites, started a memorial forum for the remembrances, thoughts, and prayers of our communities and it is a heartbreaking but also inspiring read. You can see and post to the forum here or read a compilation of some amazing moments here.

With the networks deciding, prudently, to stop running the grisly moment-of-impact videos from Sept. 11, it’s hard to find them — yet I find I still sometimes need to watch my own memories. You can find a large collection at wnbc.com.

Here’s an excellent compilation of well-worded weapons to use when you’re telling your liberal fringe friends why it is abhorrent and downright stupid to argue that America bears one ounce of blame for the pain it is suffering — from Matt Welch. See the post starting “Sensible Liberals Win, in a Rout.” There, Welch says that “court Leftist Christopher Hitchens crowns a remarkable day of shouting down the Consequentialist, Pacifist Chomskyite Left.” To quote Hitchins: “The bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the west”, to put it in a phrase, is not what western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any observant follower of the prophet Mohammed could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings – yes, even in the Pentagon.”

Next, Welch quotes the Economist: “Who is to blame? The simple answer ó the suicide attackers, and those behind them ó is hardly adequate, just as it would hardly be adequate simply to blame Hitler and his henchmen for the second world war, without mentioning the Treaty of Versailles or Weimar inflation. But that does not exculpate the perpetrators of last week’s onslaught, just as the Versailles treaty does not excuse Auschwitz: whatever their grievances, nothing could excuse an attack of such ferocity and size.”

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