Photo of New York City from space on September 11, 2001

Originally published at:

“The world changed today,” Station Commander Culbertson wrote the next day. "What I say or do is very minor compared to the significance of what happened to our country today when it was attacked…

I often wonder why so many have said that that attack “changes everything”, yet it hadn’t when one could easily read about innocent people being bombed all over the world on a regular basis. Why aren’t the accumulative hundreds and thousands of people of the “third world” equally significant? Imperialism is a hell of a drug.

“The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are.”

Now that I agree with.


Does anybody know what the tag “2002/01/24” on the bottom of the image means?


/s, obviously

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I agree, and I’ve mulled this over from time to time. It makes sense that it changes everything in the USA–that an attack on such a scale could happen really shook the false sense of American invulnerability. Mine included, as I came of age during the gulf war with a conservative dad. I chalk up this rhetoric (sometimes) to Americans usually talking as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

I was overseas at the time, on exchange for a term in college, so it was interesting. I saw first hand that most people’s world did not in fact change, and it was just a big news story because big events in the US tend to be big news stories internationally to start with.

Then again, a week before Christmas, I saw a robot Christmas tree light show whose stilted English paid tribute to the attacks. (You have 3 guesses where I was… It rhymes with “tin can”.)


A clue perhaps?

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This is my fourth try at writing this reply. The first three would have surely gotten deleted by the mods for various reasons.

All I’m left with is that there are of course people who are aware of conflict elsewhere for whom this still changed everything. I suspect that in fact you don’t actually care about loss of life due to conflict much of anywhere, that in fact you just wanted to make that comment in that tone.


The answer is two-fold. The U.S. had never experienced a direct, sudden attack on American soil (caveat: not since Pearl Harbor, but we’re talking about people’s reactions in the 2001-here-and-now, and discussing people’s reactions in said here-and-now). No one in the country, who as a rule lived in the U.S. and never lived abroad, had ever experienced such a thing. Reading about events happening elsewhere, for many, was something they just could not connect with. Reading about it wasn’t the same. Experiencing it was, to understate it, was a shocker.


Well, only if you exclude domestic terrorist attacks - which everyone does seem to for some reason.

Granted the scale of this one was bigger - in death toll, prominence of target(s), method of attack. And it was televised while it was happening rather than just having footage of the aftermath.

Yup, US insularism is a wonderful thing.

I envy those in the US who are only now starting to worry about the threat of nuclear attack by missile.

For someone growing up in Western Europe in the 80s, that was the background of our lives. Ditto terrorist attacks. IRA, UDF, Rote Armee Fraktion/Baader Meinhoff, Red Brigades, ETA, plenty more.

In our case, the threat of nuclear annihilation of course came with the comforting thought that our deaths would be meaningless collateral to the actual combatants - the USSR and the US.

There’s a reason cold war fiction and Cthulu go so well together.


Americans of my and the previous generation remember this as well. We also had a smaller share of whacko leftist domestic terrorist violence as well back then.

Lazy writers?

Quite. Americans always had plenty of reason to be concerned but for some reason lots appear to have been happy to ignore the reality.

Incidentally, it’s interesting that when US domestic terrorism does get acknowledged by Americans, it tends to be “whacko leftist domestic terrorist violence”.

Yet the actually successful terrorist attacks are and were very frequently carried out by those on the right-wing end of the spectrum.

Well possibly. Possibly it’s the common thread of being a tiny, unimportant speck in a cold, uncaring universe liable to be squashed without notice by vast powers which are completely unaware of your existence.

I suppose it depends how snarky and/or snobbish you want to be. :slight_smile:


Right after 9/11 I thought that this incident surely gets the US politicians and public to re-evaluate their foreign policy (i.e. fucking up foreign peoples lives and/or countries) because they realize that their meddling can have serious consequences for everyone - including themselves. What happened? Instead the “fucking others peoples countries up” dial was turned to 11.


Quite familiar with the history in that article. I used the term I did because all the examples you had were of the left and the examples that came to my mind were things like the Weathermen.

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I must admit after I’d finished my post I did think - this is a bit pot and kettle. As you say most of my examples were left-ish and Europe certainly has (and had) plenty of active right-wing terrorist groups.

So it’s definitely not just a US phenomenon.

Not just US and not just Europe, which was my point all along.

In what alternative universe are the UDF even remotely close to the left? Their British mainland allies include neo-nazi groups.

I’ll accept the other examples may be left wing, but not the UDF.


I stand corrected. Middle aged eyes possibly to blame.


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