Rieff’s criticisms of the American society come too soon following such a horrific event. To say that President Roosevelt never claimed December 7, will always live in infamy seems irrelevant, because the words “We will never forget 9/11” do not necessarily mean “The world will never forget 9/11” or even “America will never forget 9/11.” It simply means that Americans at that moment will not forget 9/11. This is not an example of Americans “fetishizing” change, but rather a commitment by those who witnessed 9/11 to carry on its legacy.
This is not to say that the attacks on 9/11 will never fade or become more distant in people’s minds, especially those not directly affected by the attacks. However, I am sure anyone who lost a family member in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or in Lancaster, PA will never forget the attacks on 9/11. In fact, I challenge anyone to watch footage of the attacks or pictures of “the falling man” without becoming emotional. These media documents are yet another important primary source, which separates the 9/11 attacks from Pearl Harbor. Generations will be able to watch the raw footage of the 9/11 attacks, unlike Pearl Harbor.
Some of Rieff’s points do have sound grounding. Of course, the 9/11 attacks will not be remembered the same now as they will be in 30 years. There is no way to maintain the same level of mourning as there is now. However, Rieff’s stark criticism of American society is out of taste and has no place just days before the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.