Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Terror Dream (Book #48)

The Terror Dream (Susan Faludi, 2007) takes the sort of disconnect I and many of my friends felt about America's response to 9/11 and weaves a cultural study around it, tying the stories we told ourselves about 9/11 to earlier national myths created for the frontier. I don't completely buy that the frontier/Indian captivity narratives she brings up are so uniquely American. What I've read of 18th and 19th century British tales of cross-cultural interaction and gender relations strikes the exact same tone. But the longer section about life in post-9/11 America--with special focus on the mythic role of firefighters, the athletic men on Flight 93 (funny how we don't remember the names of the flight attendants who boiled water to use as a weapon against the hijackers like we do Beamer, Bingham, Glick, etc.), pregnant 9/11 widows, and Jessica Lynch--struck me as truth-packed. The nation felt powerless and rudderless, so it dug back into old cultural myths and pulled out some of the more sexist and simplistic ones to try to make sense of the world. Really, WHY did Jessica Lynch get portrayed as a cute, vulnerable little girl who somehow accidentally stumbled into the army rather than as a woman, a rational human being, who chose to serve her country? And WHY don't we honor those flight attendants with their boiling water or the female EMT's who died trying to rescue people at the WTC?

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