Flying Blind

A birds-eye view of 9/11

The rest of the airport TVs were tuned to a dramatically licentious assigning of blame for the 9/11 attacks, which was interrupted for a presidential address that made the case for more war and abridgement of rights, which was sometimes hard for me to hear because of the endless-loop messages advising passengers to keep their baggage close to them and report any suspicious behavior by other travelers.

I made a couple of phone calls and wondered whether they were being monitored.

*   *   *

My flight wasn't full, and I appreciated the empty seat between me and the Sarsgaardian guy. But the plane wasn't empty, either, and plenty of people had stepped forward when they started calling names from the standby list. Most people were chatting it up pretty good—I would have appreciated a little less of that from the two loud women behind me—but I didn't hear anybody mention 9/11.

It was on my mind, however, and despite my best logic and bluster, flying on this day did give me pause to consider the possibility that tragedy might be imminent, maybe as close as the next minute.

But that's how the whole world lives, and in most places the odds and the consequences are much worse. They always have been. That's a point that seems lost in our anniversary observations of 9/11—how totally out-of-proportion we see the attack that, while spectacular, took fewer than 3,000 lives, and how totally misdirected our reaction continues to be.

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