Once again we commemorate September 11, 2001 – a day imbued in our collective memory with grief, confusion and inchoate rage – and strangely enough called Patriot Day. I have no idea how the name Patriot Day came about unless it just bubbled to the surface of a conversation at a DAR potluck one Wednesday night and caught on through phone trees and work email until it had become a fait accompli. Our gang wrote over the “Terror Day” tag of the gang down the street and now we get to celebrate Patriot Day with solemn readings and brass bands and F-15 overflights and the latest American Idol winner singing such a jazzed-up version of “America the Beautiful” that the melody reminds you of a greased pig at the state fair.
I don’t know where the name Patriot Day came from, but most holidays are polite enough to be named something that sorta reflects the nature of the holiday. Halloween and Independence Day and St. Patrick’s Day are all pretty clear, and will be a hundred years from now. But what would an alien or a person from the distant future make of Patriot Day? A sharp mind might deduce a corellation with flag decals, and that would be about it. But nowhere in that name is the idea that we couldn’t bring ourselves to call it what it was: 3,000 People Killed at the Office Day.
And that’s why I doubt another one of the grandiose ideas about that day – that somehow Everything Changed. If we don’t have the intestinal fortitude to understand what happened to us (we could call it Terrorist Attack day, too, if the first suggestion was too pitiless – although it makes a point) then maybe everything didn’t change enough. Maybe there are some more things that need to change before Everything Is Quite Done Changing. Maybe the time for easy clichés and cheap platitudes is over – and what we really need to do is pull our socks up, reach deep within ourselves, and take it to the next level. And here are a few suggestions how.
The Civil Liberties Pass
Air travel used to be so easy – you checked your pistols and detonators through at the counter and a bored clerk in a polyester jacket watched the x-ray picture of your pocketknife, your mace and your bag of weed zip through in your carry-on luggage. But now it’s all so complicated – take off your shoes, ditch your hair gel and your mango tango bubble bath and be prepared for the third degree if they notice your copy of The Management Secrets of Suleiman the Magnificent. Shouldn’t there be an easier way to get from Pittsburgh to San Diego? Now there is with the Civil Liberties Pass – a simple microprocessor embedded in your skull transmits a constant stream of sensory input to the Transportation Safety Administration. Just have your chip scanned at the express gate, and an ultra-fast computer connection verifies that you haven’t been near any dangerous substances, harbored any evil thoughts or filled in an absentee ballot and you’re whisked past security like a VIP – that’s a Virtually Inspected Pre-terrorist.
The God Bless America Tax Cut
Isn’t it time we stopped sticking it to the rich – who, after all, are responsible for creating jobs, keeping Hollywood cops fully employed, and exploring the vast uncharted territories of Caribbean tax shelters? In an age when the poor and middle class are paying less than their fair share in taxes, why are the rich left to find as many deductions as they can using only an army of accountants and a few shadow corporations? The rich deserve a reward for their ingenuity – and under this new program any graft is tax deductible as long as it’s over a million dollars per fiscal year. We could lower the limit, but deductions for cheaters who can’t think big would just be the soft bigotry of low expectations.
The Cusp of Victory Voluntary Draft
The all-volunteer army has been one of the must successful innovations in the free world – at last we have a military comprised entirely of willing recruits who are skilled, motivated, and who came to serve out of an abiding love for the ideals that made America great. And that was cool and everything, but this touchy-feely nonsense needs to stop. Effective immediately, all patriotic Americans will throw their names into a hat, and anyone who can’t afford a lawyer or a ticket to Canada will volunteer for two years of service or until we decide you can come home. All unpatriotic Americans must report to California, where they will be detailed to jump up and down on the San Andreas fault.