I’m angry – how about you?

By Barbara Simpson

Talk about 9-11 hype! For weeks, the media had a field day. What would we do? Too much or too little? How would we react? Critics sneered that television would gear-up into hyper-overdrive.

Dire warnings were issued about the effect of news coverage on children or dysfunctional adults or the survivors.

Well, it’s over. How did we do? Overall, not bad. There were moving ceremonies at each location where the terrorists killed their victims and themselves.

The largest was at Ground Zero. Survivors, families and thousands of others were there. After a minimum of speeches, the names of all the victims were read aloud – a roll call of memoriam that took more than two and a half hours.

Two and a half hours! Each ruthlessly killed. If nothing else, that imprinted on our consciousness the enormity of the crimes. Thousands dead but many thousands more have lives permanently wounded in ways impossible to chronicle – wives, children, parents, siblings, friends and coworkers.

The places of death were marked with flowers left to wither as well as teddy bears, ribbons, pictures, notes and whatever else soothes grief.

The memorials at the Pentagon and in that bleak Pennsylvania field, where the diverted plane crashed, were equally moving and important. President Bush traveled to all three locations. In Pennsylvania, he honored the dead with a minute of silence then he and Mrs. Bush consoled survivors.

His speech that evening on Ellis Island was heart-felt and thoughtful. It was George Bush, human being. It wasn’t until the next day at the United Nations that we heard and saw George Bush, president.

I liked that one better. In fact, I wish I’d heard more from the “president” on Sept. 11. At this point we need him as president. We don’t need leaders who hug and cry or – heaven help me – feel our pain. A little of that goes a long way.

We need a presidential leader – better yet, a statesman. We saw that side of George Bush in his U.N. speech about Iraq. The president was strong, controlled, measured and determined. His message was clear: This is the job that needs to be done and this is why. If you don’t move with us on this, we’ll do it anyway. But it’s better if we do it together because we’re all in danger.

Wow. It was another of those Bush moments when the real man comes thru. We saw it just after 9-11 and here it was again, in front of a generally unfriendly U.N. audience. As I said about him before, don’t mess with Texans.

As for media coverage, ABC deserves kudos for its four-hour evening presentation, especially the first two hours, which chronicled the day of Sept. 11, 2001.

The report began at dawn and ended with the stunning reality of dealing with the carnage and wreckage of the WTC attack. Beautifully edited and sparely written, it allowed the pictures to tell the story along with the words and faces of survivors. It was gripping, spine-chilling and moving – television at its very best.

But – yes, there’s a “but” – what about death? All day, all we heard about was the people who were “lost.” They weren’t lost. They were killed, murdered by Muslim fanatic terrorists. Funny, a whole day of media coverage and I never heard those words.

What’s wrong with saying people were killed? (They didn’t just die.)

What’s wrong with saying Muslim terrorists did it? (They were responsible, after all.)

Why no pictures of victims? Any of them? How about one of them? A couple of witnesses mentioned people jumping, but that wasn’t shown. Why the censorship?

Media have no compunction about showing us bloody bodies from other violence but this, the biggest of all – ours – is bloodless. Why? Are they afraid we’ll get angry? We should be angry. If not angry at this, then at what?

Our president declares war on terrorism, but we’re prevented from seeing the human price of terror. Collapsing buildings and dust clouds are great television, but if you don’t show the cause (planes into buildings), the results (people screaming, jumping and dead) and the people who did it (Muslim terrorists), it’s a disservice.

The media are sanitizing a horror that will be repeated unless, and until, we are allowed the rage this deserves – so we can demand, and get, retribution and put an end to it. We owe nothing less to those killed.

Without that, this country will become a vat of mush, using every anniversary as the opportunity to wallow in self-pity and guilt.