A Carefully Engineered PR Program?
One Memory of 911
by Eric Peters
People who were there at the time of, say, JFK’s assassination will tell you they have distinct memories of certain moments that they will carry with them forever. It may be something trivial, like the dangling thread on the bright yellow jacket worn by the woman standing beside you. It may be something said – or something seen. But it imprints – and it sticks with you.
I, too, have such a memory. Of September 11, 2001.
It is a small thing and may be something that stands out for entirely innocuous (or simply irrelevant) reasons.
But I have it, nonetheless.
First, some background. I was at the time an editorial writer for The Washington Times – you know, the Moonie-owned paper in DC that’s quite possibly a front for the CIA and is most definitely a mouthpiece for the neo-con right. (On the latter: There was a fax machine in the office that used every day to spit out “memos” from the now-infamous Partnership for a New American Century and Bill Kristol, which often became the basis for the following morning’s editorials. The Jerusalem Post was another favorite source for material.)
Well, later that morning, not long at all after the planes hit, I picked up on something that may be nothing – or might be something: The higher-ups at the paper were already using the lingo that’s still the lingua franca today. 911. Not, the attacks on the Trade Center – or something natural like that. Just the now-familar acronym-scree, 911 – like you used to say when you talked about calling the cops. I though it odd then and I still think it odd today, a decade later. How is it that 911 became coin of the realm so speedily? It was – to me – as though part of a very deliberate and carefully engineered PR program, prepared in advance and rolled-out on schedule.
911 has too much of the brand-name about it for my tastes – having done some copywriting, too, you see. Too much, at any rate, to have become so common so quickly. So almost instantaneously the agreed-upon terminology, like a parrot call.
How did this come about? What made so many people (well, people in a position to guide the discussion along certain channels) latch onto the date vs. the event itself?
What was so special about Tuesday, September 11?
Pear Harbor is not known as 12-7.
Is it not odd?