counter-hegemonic memories

by tobybee

And so another September 11 rolls around. If you’re a lefty in Melbourne, or you were in 2000, then one memory that comes is of the S11 protests: the protests outside the Casino in the city that went for a couple of days, that interrupted the meeting of the World Economic Forum. And if you’re the same age as me, and were also doing year 12 and had a SAC that day, then you (maybe) also remember that protest with a certain jealousy, a certain wishfulness that you too could have been there, rather than stuck inside the classroom, doing the test and trying to earn the marks to get into uni.

And then the September 11 of 2001. The night when my brother and I were watching the West Wing, and laughed in the ad-break when they showed footage of two planes flying into the WTC, wondering how it was possible for two pilots to be so stupid (one, maybe; but two??). Then the watching of tv into the night and early morning, watching what was happening. And being too young to properly understand the ramifications of what was going on, of what would follow.

But in the years following, in the shadows of the memories of these dates, like so many other people, being radicalised.

And so in 2010, on this September 11, what can we remember? Well, we could remember and watch the protests against the Muslim community centre that is being built in Lower Manhattan, and get angry at the ways in which this has been named ‘the Ground Zero mosque’. We could analyse the discourses that proliferate, the abundance of speech that has been created around this ‘event’. We could get angry that it is even a problem for some to have a mosque near Ground Zero (if that was what it actually was, which of course it’s not, but even if it was…). We could also remember the vast numbers of people who have protested against the protestors; who are working to ensure that the community centre is built (and for an entertaining deconstruction of the conservative anti-Muslim discourses proliferating, you should watch this clip of Jon Stewart. Both he and Colbert have done lots on the centre, but this is a good one from the other day).

We could turn our eyes to Beirut. And learn that in early 2009 work was begun to restore Magen Avraham synagogue (built in 1925), which was destroyed during fighting in the Lebanese Civil War. That work is nearly completed on this synagogue, and that this work was done with the endorsement and support from the Lebanese government, from Jewish people in Lebanon and the diaspora, and from Hezbollah…

*hat-tip to LeDaro.
**to read more about the intertwining of memories of S11 and 9/11, you should read this piece in Overland.