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A day I have not looked forward to… have you?

 

It’s the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy and it will be the subject of all of today’s talk shows. The very thought of everything involved in the event… from the destruction of the World Trade Center, the crash into the Pentagon and the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field. I remember the father of one of Buddy’s friends when we lived in Marlborough,CT, who had made his monthly business trip to NYC and died in the attack… which means not only did it happen, but I knew someone killed in the tragedy.

We are at war in the Middle East… still going after Al Qaeda. It is the longest war in our history and seems to go on forever. After the loss of citizens on 9/11, we continue to lose even more Americans because of the attack. I ask my self: what have we become?

I will try to put the day out of my mind. I have thought about it so much over the past eleven years. I am just crestfallen to find it on my mind again.

 

What I remember on 9/11

Ten years ago, I lived in Marlborough, CT, a small town just south of Hartford, with a population made up mostly of commuters. Most of us worked in Hartford or other nearby towns (I was then working for Computer Sciences Corporation in East Hartford), but some went longer distances.

Marlborough is the kind of town where everyone meets everyone else over coffee on Sunday Mornings at the local bakery, or at the local grocery after work, or at town hall for our frequent, New England style, town meetings… or at our children’s sports events at the grade school basketball court or on our local baseball diamond.

Jim Hobin was one of the people you spoke with at these events.

Jim was one of the mainstays of the Marlborough Youth Athletic League which ran our local Baseball and Basketball programs for kids. In 2001 he was my son Buddy’s Basketball Coach. The previous year he had coached his baseball team.

Nobody worked better with kids than Jim Hobin… and he was always there fore the MYAL… he loved Baseball especially and you’d frequently find him mowing the grass at our small ball field, or  chalking the base lines, or painting the benches. He loved keeping that field ready for the teams.

He was particular known for training the kids and playing EVERY child for an equal amount of time… something that always amazed us, because his teams usually won.

While much of his work was done traveling all over the country for Marsh and McLennen, once or twice a month he had to go the 150 miles or so to New York to the company offices in the World Trade Center. September 11th was one of those days. Jim always left early in the morning to make it to the office on time… it was not like him to be late for anything.

When the first plane hit the WTC, I was at my East Hartford desk at CSC listening to the news on a local radio station as I worked on my computer. At first it was reported as a small plane accident, then the second plane struck and the whole event was devastatingly clear. My partner came over to my desk to listen to the report… then like all the employees in my division we gathered in the lunchroom and watched the buildings collapse over and over on television.

No work was done that day… we all went home to be with our families.

When I got there my wife told me that Jim Hobin had been at the WTC that morning and no one was able to get hold of him. His wife, Sheila, was especially upset at the lack of contact.

In fact, Jim was one of those whose body was never found or identified.

So, on 9/11, like most people who lived in Marlborough, I don’t think about terrorists, or war, or world politics… I think of Jim Hobin and what he meant to our children and to all of us.

10 years later, nothing has changed.

There have been enough crazies loose in the USA that this bunch makes me very nervous…

Let me start with a statement on my own religious beliefs: I am an atheist in the Stephen Hawking vein…there has been nothing in centuries of scientific discovery to prove the existence of God, nor are the mythological concepts of Heaven, Hell or any “afterlife” at all a reality. OK?

The proposal to make a cross shaped piece of twisted beams from the World Trade Center into a monument in a public space supporting Christianity triggered a response by some atheists that they should have an equivalent monument caused a controversy that Fox News covered. Let me also state my view here: neither of these concepts are supported by me. People’s beliefs should be private things in a free society and not be inflicted on others.

So, when I read this post on the American Atheist‘s blog (and, btw, this is an organization I’m not a member of… organized atheism is just another religion) about their Communications Director appearing on Fox News and the responses that were posted by listeners, I felt unsafe:

FOX News Facebook Page on 9/11 Cross Generates Death Threats Against Atheists

FOX News readers on Facebook started going off after Blair Scott, Communications Director for American Atheists, appeared on America Live with Megyn Kelly. Blair reports that when he returned home from his local FOX station for the interview that his voice mail was full of messages and his inbox had almost 200 hateful messages. “I can always tell when someone from American Atheists is on FOX news, because my Inbox explodes with hate email,” said Blair.

We can talk about the issues about this, but our friend William Hamby has put it well over at the Examiner. In addition, Practical Doubt was able to capture some more as well. Unfortunately, they blacked out the names of the guilty.

Moderators on FOX News’ Facebook page had been trying diligently to delete the violent threats, but not before they were screen-captured by a diligent American Atheists member named Robert Posey.

So how direct are these statements posted as comments on the Fox News Facebook Page? These were some of Posey’s captures before Fox had them deleted (and these do NOT have the poster’s names blacked out… as AA says, people should have responsibility for what they say):

What’s scary as well is the amount of support agreements they get from other readers. It is a good move that Fox is eliminating these as they catch them (why they don’t just set the keywords on their spam list, or set all comments to be reviewed before posting as I do on this blog, is confusing.) However, thousands, and perhaps millions of people see them’ and as William Hamby says in the Atlanta Atheist Examiner:

In a week or two, that Facebook page will be clean swept of any threats or incitements to violence.  If anyone goes back to read it, they’ll see Christians and atheists arguing — not always politely, but without threats.  The words on the page will be gone.  But for me and my fellow atheists, they will live on as long as we live.

When I think of lunatics who have been able to kill groups of people based on the lunacy of extreme beliefs, I realize how the promotion of such concepts can trigger dangerous responses. I also realize that by printing some of these here, I may be doing the same thing… however this will happen here once and it will give you an idea of what is happening. If you think back to the Holocaust and what Jews (and the rest of the world) learned from it, this is a serious situation.

If those who believe in Christianity (or any other religion) need this kind of response to justify their unfortunate view of life, then more people than atheists should take notice and be ready to defend themselves.

We all knew someone…

The World Trade Center, one of three sites on ...

The final destruction of Osama Bin Laden has brought to my mind, of course, the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center and what… and who… was lost in that event of evil.

Many years ago I wrote, while living in Marlborough, CT, of the loss of Jim Hobin, my son Buddy’s basketball coach. Jim usually worked out of our little central Connecticut town, but on that day he had left early in the morning to get to the main office of the company he worked for in New York. In the World Trade Center.

It was a loss that everyone in Marlborough felt… this was a town united by the sporting programs for its children, by congregation for morning coffee in the bakery, by well attended selectmen’s meetings. 9/11 would always mean Jim Hobin’s death to us.

The Power of Nightmares — Part 5

Continuing onward with the start of the last hour of this BBC Documentary. We’ve been through a half century of events so far. And then came 9/11: