Defense and Criticism of Rieff

I have found the many responses to Rieff’s work, both in class and on this blog, quite intriguing and intelligent. However, as I go back to his work for my own response, I find that many of the arguments against his opinions have already been mentioned and countered in his lengthy article. For example, Rieff recognizes that his view “is not a view that finds favor anywhere today.” He expects criticism. He acknowledges a point many have mentioned; that “no one in their right minds would expect the loved ones of those who died on 9/11 to forget.” He asserts that the memory that will be lost is not an individual’s memory, but a society’s memory, as the generations pass. He affirms that “remembrance is humanly necessary,” and is not dismissing the idea of having a memorial at all. He is just taking note of a pattern that is likely to repeat itself for this historic event. His argument is not to be taken offensively.

While I appreciate Rieff’s perspective, I do not necessarily agree with it, and I definitely do not agree with his method of delivery. I find it ironic that he admits that “it is too soon” to even consider forgetting, yet he insists on presenting insensitively. I speculate that many miss the point of Rieff’s article because they are distracted by his condescending tone. Such a stance puts readers, especially those who have been affected by 9/11, on the defensive, and they automatically dismiss his ideas. Discussing such a controversial subject, it would make sense for him to be less cynical and pessimistic in his tone. His negativity takes away from his work and its ultimate goal.