Deep down, Donald Trump probably thinks that the nearly 3,000 people who died during the terrorist attacks on NYC’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 were “losers and suckers,” just like the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have fought and died in all our foreign wars, or the 190,000 men, women and children who have perished of COVID on his watch.
What else can explain Trump’s terrible, callous and unpatriotic actions shortly after the Twin Towers were toppled with thousands of New Yorkers crushed under the rubble, that made Trump see an opportunity to make both a financial and public relations killing. Instead of responding sympathetically to the human disaster, he made up stories of hundreds of non-existent “terrorist sympathizers,” cheering in the streets of Jersey City over the mass murder of thousands of people, and the destruction of the Towers. In fact, it was Trump who cashed in on the tragedy.
Following the establishment of a 9/11 Emergency Relief Fund for small businesses in lower Manhattan suffering from drastic financial losses in the aftermath of the attack, the unfeeling Trump took advantage of the special fund by sucking $150,000 out of it — despite the fact that the Trump Organization was neither a small business, nor suffered losses from the 9/11 attack. This unscrupulous theft of money by Trump from the 9/11 Emergency Relief Fund, came after the soul-less cipher bragged that his commercial building at 40 Wall Street was the tallest building in NYC, while the ruins of the Twin Towers were still smoldering. The cheering, it turned out, was coming from Trump, not “terrorists,” across the Hudson River.
To this day, Trump still has not apologized for his awful actions; never gave the money back he stole from those who suffered 9/11 losses; never apologized for his insensitive comments about having the tallest building in NYC; never offered to pay for the school costs, or mental-health counseling costs of the children of those damned to death in the two Towers that day. Keeping completely in character, Trump used that unfathomable tragedy to his own personal benefit in his typically grotesque way, by profiting from the hardships of others.
A human being, with the faintest heartbeat, would have expressed empathy, paid that money back and redoubled his efforts to comfort the families of those forever lost to us in the attack on 9/11. Fellow Americans across the country — even as far from the WTC site as Napa, California — were so moved by the events of that day they raised money to construct permanent memorials to honor those who lost their lives.
As a New Yorker who worked in World Trade Center Tower 2 for nearly 6 years and who lived in NYC during the terrorist attack, I recently recorded my remembrances of 9/11 with Bernie Narvaez, the Chair of the Napa Sunrise Rotary’s 9/11 Commemoration Committee and a candidate for Napa City Council.
Napa is one of the few cities West of the Mississippi with remnants of the rusted beams of the building in which I once worked, sculpted into one of the most moving 9/11 memorials I’ve ever experienced. Late in the afternoon, when the sun begins to sink behind downtown Napa trees and buildings, the steel girders rescued from the Trade Center cast long shadows near the large white plates bearing the full names of people who either could not be rescued, or died trying to save others.
Each time I walk past Napa’s 9/11 Memorial and read the names of my fellow New Yorkers whose lives were ended, and their families ripped apart, I am transported from Napa back in time, to the Wall of Death at St.Vincent’s Hospital in NYC. It’s the scene of my most tortuous night terrors of the days after the attack with the rubble of the Towers still simmering, bodies melted inside, when my partner Carol and I walked from our Manhattan apartment, to get near, what was now, a mass gravesite, and pay our respects.
We stopped at St. Vincent’s Hospital on W. 14th Street, then the closest hospital to the World Trade Center, which was prepared to receive hundreds of survivors. There were none. Instead, we witnessed thousands of 8 ½ x 11 “Missing” photos of peoples’ lovers and children lost in the attack; an entire wall of the hospital, covered with pictures of humanity, incinerated. Young faces smiled out at me from the photos, and in each bright smile, I saw my son’s face, and cried uncontrollably at the thought of losing him, and the unimaginable losses of the parents who lost their children, smiling at them forever, from the walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital, and the deepest crevices of their hearts.
And it’s why, everyday, but especially around 9/11, when I look at Trump’s smug, smirking, selfishly-satisfied face, I’m reminded of the photos of all the young, beautiful faces, full of life — photos that ripped my heart out 19 years ago. I think of their faces — bright lives I can never forget — and my fury at Trump’s inhumanity, is made even deeper by my despair for the victims of 9/11, which knows no end.
Read my latest article in The National Memo on the great RFK speech on Violence, delivered on the day after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination at the Cleveland City Club, April 5, 1968. It’s a speech which Joe Biden MUST deliver today. Please click on the link below to access my article.
( I am a 71-year old White, Italian American man, and I am a Jew. I am also a Black man, and the father of all children being beaten, killed or incarcerated because of the color of their skin, or their faith. We are all part of the human family; they are all my children. They are my flesh and blood, and my soul. I dedicated this poem to them, and to all of us.)
When I see a person without a mask within 6 feet of me or anyone else, I want to spray them in the face with disinfectant. Kind of like using Mace against a violent, life-threatening criminal.
I know that might constitute an assault, but, I reason, so is the maskless menace breathing potentially deadly pathogens into the air in my direction. “The freedom to extend your arm, stops where my nose begins,” I remember as a criminal law mantra from law school. That principle applies perfectly here.
So, what can we do in “self-defense?” What’s the appropriate action for victims of the maskless morons to take? Do we need our own “Stand Your Public Health Ground Law?” If shaming doesn’t work, especially when dealing with a selfish jerk, what can we do to proactively protect ourselves and the health of the people we love?
I was confronted with that conflict head-on, while my granddaughters, my son, his wife and mine, were all having a wonderful, socially distanced birthday celebration at a beautiful beach on the Sonoma Coast. For context, its’ important to note that when I am in the presence of our 3 granddaughters — ages 11, 9, and almost 5 — I am in state of bliss. Few things can loosen that circle of love. Even Donald Trump, the most dastardly of dastards, becomes a child’s silly ditty: “Donald Trump is a horse’s rump; he belongs in a garbage dump.” Ok. My ditty — but my grandchildren giggle with glee when they hear it. Still, my mood of joy for those three girls remains uninterrupted.
So there we were, all playing on the beach, sculpting Sand Cats, and replicas of Hogwarts and Stonehenge (the girls love cats and Harry Potter, and their mother is an Anthropologist) when an oblivious old coot comes walking directly toward us on the beach — maskless, mirthless and clueless as to the danger he was breathing with him. He had barged into my bliss, momentarily catching me off guard, unable to bark out “Where’s your fucking, Mask, loser?” because my granddaughters were right there, and he was suddenly upon us.
He barely avoided us, and I looked after him in disgust, wanting to run up behind him, knock him over, and push his face into the sand. But of course, I didn’t. My granddaughters were watching, and I kept my anger in check and repressed my strong desire to go all “Johnny Brooklyn” on him. Impressionable ears were listening carefully. We complained a bit about him getting too close for comfort, but then resumed our play in the sand, and running from the ice cold waves chasing us back.
“I felt his breath on me,” my oldest granddaughter said, and I immediately regretted not punching the maskless moron in the nose so he couldn’t breathe on anyone. I rationalized my response by complimenting myself on not making a scene, when I felt that was exactly what I should have made.
As we were leaving the beach, giddy from getting to spend an entire day with each other, masked and socially distanced on one of the most spectacular beaches in all of California, three unmasked teen-aged boys approached us on a narrow path back to the parking lot. The tallest of the three, walking in front, saw all of us, with our faces covered, and momentarily pulled up his tee shirt to cover his mouth and nose, then dropped it down when his peach-fuzz faced friends blithely refused to cover theirs. We stopped and stepped aside — not quite 6 feet — to let them pass.
“You inconsiderate little pricks, cover your faces,” a voice inside me said, but that’s where it stayed. My granddaughters were watching, and I didn’t want to model bad behavior, even though they had just witnessed it by the three-skin faced stooges.
If I were alone, would I have done more than give an icy “you maskless moron” stare to the oblivious old coot or the Teenage Mutant Maskless Turds? In a State Park or city or county or town where mask-wearing is mandatory during this COVID Pandemic, don’t law abiding citizens have the right to enforce the law? To demand compliance? To shame the shameless bastards? To kick sand in their uncovered faces?
If I were a member of a Public Health Police Force, I’d hand out stiff fines to every violator, and arrest those arrogant asses who claim they “don’t believe in masks,” or they “need to breathe oxygen,” as if the air in a mask is methane. Until that time comes, I’m shopping for some new masks or tee-shirts that scream: “Wear Your Fucking Mask,” “Cover Your Mouth AND Nose,” or “Your Breath Is Killing Your Mother.” I’m also contemplating carrying a disinfectant filled spray-bottle to mark off my six-foot territory the way a cat sprays to claim its turf. I’m deciding on designing these spray bottles to look like a Corona Virus, with each orange spike capable of spewing Lysol or bleach.
It’s either that, or unleashing my inner Johnny Brooklyn on the maskless morons moving in self-centered concentric circles among us — regardless of age or gender — and the results won’t be quiet nor pretty, but they might just dramatically reduce COVID infection rates, and ignorance if we act out like ACTUP did against AIDS. Those might be just the tactics needed to get through to the dumb-as-fuck dunderheads who need to simply choose between putting on their mask or a prison uniform, for all the deaths and illness they’ve callously caused.