Student Newspaper Op-Ed Criticizes ‘Infectious Patriotism’ Displayed on 9/11 Anniversary

A University of Wyoming student journalist is earning some online buzz and pockets of vitriol by calling for an end to “infectious patriotism” on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

In an op-ed for The Branding Iron, UW’s campus newspaper, sophomore Jeremy Rowley writes simply, “[W]e, the United States of America, need to get over it. … [T]he way the country has viewed September 11th every year since the attacks has been anything but productive.” He specifically cites displays of national pride aligned with the 9/11 anniversary as out of whack with America’s true place in the world and out of step with what long-term mourning should look like.

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As Rowley argues,

“[A]t this point it has been over a decade. Perhaps it is time to move on. … Pride is by far the most common response to the annual reminder of the attacks on our country, and this is the issue. Suburban families erect their stars and stripes as public schools broadcast cliché images of bald eagles and American landmarks while blaring Lee Greenwood’s ‘Proud to Be an American.’ But what exactly is being celebrated here? How is this infectious patriotism honoring anybody as it gets shoved down our throats? … Trying to mask our pain with patriotism is not only illogical, but also disrespectful to those who died 13 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, America is not the best country in the world. Acting like it is and boosting our egos at the expense of several thousand lives is downright disgusting.”

Published late last week to coincide with the most recent 9/11 anniversary, the piece remains the top story in terms of traffic on the Branding Iron site and has elicited more than 180 comments and counting beneath it — most of them, ahem, not exactly supportive. One example: “You are a disgrace to this country, your family and your school. … You disgust me, you self-righteous little boy.”

Beyond sheer name-calling, the gist of the haterade: Don’t tell people to “move on” from a seismic event that impacted a ton of people directly and significantly and continues to resonate in national and global affairs.

As one commenter contends, “How in the world can you say get over 9/11? Did you live, breath it, work 12 hours a day for six months, bury family, friends, go [through] checkpoints just to get to work? You are so far from danger living in the backwood of America you lost track of being on the front lines. Come to NYC and find it.”

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