This year, a political 9/11





This year, September 11 is going to include something different — politics, and lots of it.

On the eve of the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, all evidence suggests that the once-sacrosanct nature of a day when candidates used to clear their schedules except for the most solemn and intimate of events and take down their television ads has fundamentally changed....

In New York City, dueling rallies are planned by opponents and supporters of the controversial Islamic center proposed for two blocks from ground zero. And in Alaska, tea party superstars Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are planning a joint appearance in a big Anchorage arena, apparently to celebrate their shared conservative faith-based values and commemorate the attacks, while in Washington, a coalition of tea party groups is planning a march on the National Mall....

There are countless other more run-of-the-mill political events taking place across the country that wouldn’t raise eyebrows had they turned up on any other campaign season Saturday, but that rarely occurred during any Sept. 11 since the terror attacks....

“The sanctity of observance tied to events, no matter how catastrophic, tends to erode over time,” said David Birdsell, a political science professor at New York’s Baruch College. “It doesn't take too long and, in this case, we can see a really quite short lead time," he added, contrasting the upcoming anniversary with post-World War I Memorial Day observances.

Instead, he said partisans have quickly taken Sept. 11 “into the political realm” by channeling the anger, grief and frustration associated with the attacks “and steer(ing) those emotions into the cause you're trying to promote at the time.”...

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