I've gotten a lot of messages from folks asking me when I'm going to update my web site. Of course, updating the site is extremely time consuming, and time is certainly not my friend these days.

But, I suppose my bigger problem has been the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Like everyone else in America, I've been fairly consumed with this tragedy and the epic loss of life in Washington D.C. and my home town, New York City.

In fact, the attack was so surreal an event, I'm still, months later, having a hard time processing it. I suspect I'll not achieve any kind of equilibrium about these events until I go home and see things for myself.

I've searched in vain for something to say about it all. Far more eloquent and informed writers than myself have written volumes, expressing certainly every emotion we've all experienced.



There's been this big rush to eliminate all images of the World Trade Center from films, TV, books, etc. I've had scenes in Black Panther altered to minimize the destruction a giant dragon (a dragon. A dragon, folks) wreaks on Manhattan as he battles the Panther, I suppose out of concern for issues of good taste if not good sense.

Film executives and even higher-ups at Blockbuster Video have scrambled to tone down product and/or warn the public of violent imagery which may somehow devastate us— as though anything Hollywood could do could compete with this numbing reality.

I think I'm a little offended by the mommying and the second-guessing, and certainly shocked by the wrong-headedness of it all. We turn to movies and TV and comics for escape. All the re-shoots and all the CGI wizardry employed in the scramble to eliminate the Trade Towers offends me greatly and empowers, encourages, and emboldens the terrorists. They see great power in this heinous act, as we all tremble and hide and go into denial, acting as though those buildings were never there.

I've decided not to post pictures of the World Trade Center blowing up or collapsing. To me, that just encourages this kind of evil. I think I'd rather just remember my home town as it was. and I'd have been more inclined to see some of these upcoming films had they left my town intact.


Brooks Kraft / Gamma for TIME I'd better be careful, though. This country is still largely intolerant of free speech. The patriotic psuedo-Reaganism sweeping the nation comes with a component of institutionalized intolerance for any voice that does not sing wholly in chorus with the now numbingly ubiquitous God Bless America.

I've received numerous inquiries about whether or not it's right for me to post that mock TIME cover with George Dubya on it. I've been asked if I should, perhaps, remove my scathing criticism of the 2000 election.

I didn't like Bush then. I don't like him now. I don't know what more he could be doing or what more effective measures he could be taking. It's unlikely anyone else could be doing a better job, and we certainly could have someone far, far worse. It's not fair to kick the president over this war, but it's equally unfair to exempt him from a reasonable examination of his policies and performance. Instead, all we get is whitewash and the First Cheerleader ramping up his Good Ol' Boy routine while sneaking even more tax cuts for his country club buddies through Congress. But, shame on me for mentioning that.

I've, to date, been unsuccessful at making anyone understand, censoring my genuine, reasonable complaint about our government and our leaders, even in this time of crisis, robs me of the very freedom all this haughty flag waving is meant to represent.

It's the latest fad. The new craze. Flags, flags, flags. Get 'em while they're hot. In volume and size, they obviously fully represent our patriotism. And we, so gullible a nation, have fallen hook, line and sinker for this latest Madison Avenue brain scrub, rushing out to the mall— the mall— because they've actually convinced us going shopping will somehow bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

It's insane. And it's both dangerous and sad to realize how completely gullible we are as a people. How ready we are to conform and fall into the sweep of national mood. Flags everywhere. People running out and buying cars to “save the nation.” The US government giving $20 billion to bloated airlines who stuff their chief executives' pockets with million-dollar bonus packages while continuing to allow felons and illegal aliens to run their security checkpoints. 

If there's a way to make money, US industry will find it. And, in the wake of ongoing terror, it seems like we, as a nation, have reverted to type, becoming, once again, the naive, guileless children who still believe in Oswald in the book depository, while industry and government have a field day under cover of national crisis and patriotism. How much money are these flag makers pocketing? And how obscene is it to profit from this tragedy?



Jimin Lai / AFP Wave your flags, certainly. Tie dozens of them to your minivan or S.U.V or pickup. Blind drivers trying to see around you with your garrison flags snapping in the breeze in the bed of your pick-up. 

But, while we're at it, let's not be completely blinded by patriotism. In order to truly unify and motivate and inspire the nation, patriotism, in this politically correct era, has to be administered and packaged and dosed out to all of the people in a non-threatening, non-fascist way.

Bear in mind this flag-waving elicits an involuntary shudder from many Black Americans and Jewish Americans and Mexican Americans and (certainly) Arab Americans and Other Americans. For many minorities, the Star Spangled Banner is just as often a confederate flag in white face, a means to similar ends of intimidation and marginalization. The flag can and often is received by these communities as very pro-white, which is not to say anti-minority. But the chilling prospect of these pod people with the eight flags tagged to their Chevy sends quite a different message to many within these minority folds. America The Beautiful sounds, to many, like America For Americans, patent code for White Americans. 

Economic stimuli like low air fares and zero percent financing mean nothing to people who have nothing. Comforting many of these communities is simply beyond the power of a government so fully vested in well-to-do conservatives who have no clue whatsoever of the jungle rule of survival a great many Americans face every day. The gulf between Them and Us has never been wider, and the greater tragedy of this new war is the rallying of White America, in a  plangent strum that is certainly heartwarming and glorious to behold, but is, for many of us, merely a spectator event. We applaud and cheer and are brought to tears by this great coalescing of America, but it's not our America that's being coalesced. And the sloganeering all sounds like code. Patriotism as observed through a chain link fence.

Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP


This is why I don't like talking about 9.11. Because a great many people who want to discuss it or want me to discuss it really don't want to hear what I have to say. They want another voice in the chorus. Wave This Flag Or Else.

I support my country, my president and my military. I hope they find bin Laden and his pals and beat the living snot out of them. I'm willing to make reasonable and unreasonable sacrifices in this effort to purge a terrible evil from the world, and build a new nation that is more terror-resistant.

And I'll dutifully wave as the parade passes by.


Christopher J. Priest
November 2001

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