…story I’ve seen in the New York Times, indeed maybe in any media in a long, long time. It’s the story on the front page of today’s (9/27’s) hard copy Times. There its headline is “above the fold” (one of four such stories) while the paper very, very, curiously, does not have it up on its online frontpage although it’s already #2 onthe “most E-mailed” list).
It’s a story about the dubious credentials of a prominent 9/11 “survivor”. You have to read the whole thing–“In a 9/11 Survival tale , the Pieces Just Don’t Fit”– yourself. (I give you permission to depart and do your homework–and make up your own mind.)
Back now? Amazing, right? But the story about a potentially, monumentally clever 9/11 fake victim is OMG-worthy because it is one of those rare stories which conflates our wonder at a masterfully artistic con artist, a morality tale, and a philosophical question.
On one level you have to give her credit as an artist although the poignant details of her story–of being on the 78th floor of the South Tower, the very floor the plane hit and taking a dying man’s wedding ring to his wife, and then learning that her husband, or “fiance” or no-relation-person, died in the North Tower– turns 9/11 from a tragedy to a personal fairy tale
I certainly don’t condone what she did on these grounds. But what if she was fake but she nonetheless did a lot of “good” as a fake? Comforted people, created a sense of community and solidarity among the families of victims and “fellow” survivors. .
Does it matter she wasn’t really a victim herself? I think in those senses it may not matter–matter gravely anyway; it certainly matters if one believes in truthful history–but it may well matter when she starts pronouncing in a sappy way about the “lessons” of “her” tragedy. (one begins to wear out quote marks in a story like this) lessons which in a repellant way manage to cast aspersions on the emotional reactions of real survivors like myself (Kidding! I know I shouldn’t but a story like this does undercut ones sense of piety. Forgive me or the terrorists win!!)
Seriously the thing that struck me, the thing that you see on the hardcopy page but not on the online story is this pullquote from this 9/11 “survivor” who calls herself “Tania Head”:
“I feel this need to rise above these attacks these attacks, these acts of hate.”
Well, as the SNL church lady used to say “Isn’t that special?”
But there’s a dark side to this muddled pablum by a faker (okay I said it; the fact that she has been unable to corroborate a SINGLE one of her assertions about her Twin Towers fairy tale makes me believe she’s a major major fake, someone who will go down in the history of U.S. con artistry).
What she’s actually saying is that she’s a superior sort of person who can “rise above”acts of hate. Setting aside the fact that she probably never experienced them, and thus understandably would want to “rise above” them, what she’s implicitly saying is that in her oh-so-special reaction she’s morally and spiritually superior to other survivors and families of victims who can’t rise above hate.
Maybe some have “risen above” but I can’t criticize those who haven’t. Lose a wife or child to terrorists and still hate them for it? That’s okay by me, even if our churchlady faker wags her phony-pious survivor finger at it.