White House Creates 9/11 Commemoration Guidelines for a "Positive, Forward-Thinking Narrative" (And Avoiding Exceptionalism)
The White House has issued guidelines for both domestic and foreign citizens commemorating 9/11, in the interest of presenting "a positive, forward-thinking narrative." A White House official told the New York Times, “The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 — the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large — is not ‘just about us.”
Some senior administration officials involved in the discussions noted that the tone set on this Sept. 11 should be shaped by a recognition that the outpouring of worldwide support for the United States in the weeks after the attacks turned to anger at some American policies adopted in the name of fighting terror — on detention, on interrogation, and the decision to invade Iraq.
So the guidelines aimed at foreign audiences also call on American officials to praise overseas partners and their citizens, who have joined the worldwide effort to combat violent extremism.
“As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world,” the overseas guidelines state. “We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”
Meanwhile, the White House requests that Al Qaeda is de-emphasized in any public ceremonies, citing the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. (Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Al Qaeda's "number two," was killed last week.)
In the NYT and Politico reports, there is no mention whether the White House mentioned anything about treatment of Muslim citizens. But the New York Times does mention the guidelines "ask something of Americans that has been lacking in Washington: “We will also draw on the spirit of unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.” Zing.