9/11 and 1/6: How an American Nightmare Becomes RealRoundup
tags: Republican Party, insurrection, Capitol Riots, January 6 Commission
Timothy Snyder is the Levin professor of history at Yale University and the author of histories of political atrocity including Bloodlands and Black Earth, as well as the book On Tyranny, on America’s turn toward authoritarianism. His most recent book is Our Malady, a memoir of his own near-fatal illness reflecting on the relationship between health and freedom.
A moment ago I awoke from a nightmare about 9/11.
I was visiting the Empire State Building in New York when an airplane crashed into it from the side. The whole building buckled for a moment, then nothing else seemed to happen. I was by myself, without any friends or family, and I just ran down to the exit, staircase after staircase. Getting out was the thing to do. But no one else was doing it.
I think this sense of inertia during an emergency was something that stayed with me from the real 9/11, when the World Trade Center was attacked. When the first building was hit, it was somehow not clear that the second building should also be evacuated.
In my dream about the Empire State Building, there was no siren. When I got to the lobby, people were just milling around, and all of the doors were closed and locked. There seemed to be no way out. One handicapped entrance was opened for a moment, to allow a woman in a wheelchair to come in. In the dream, I felt a little guilty as I squeezed by her and went the wrong way through the door. The doors closed again. No one else left the building. My example did not make a difference. They were all going to die.
I somehow ended up in a nearby building, some kind of tourist center where people waited before entering the Empire State Building. Inside was a group of senior citizens, waiting for a tour of the building. I tried to explain to them what was happening. If people would not leave the Empire State Building, at least more should not go in.
But I was just a guy, I wasn't wearing a uniform, I didn't have a microphone, and they didn't pay attention. They gave me that look people give you when you are the entertainment and the entertainment is not good. They hadn't seen the plane hit the building, and they thought that I was some sort of nut. A lady to my left, wearing a red-white-and-blue dress and with some kind of red-white-and-blue ornament in her hair, starting laughing at me. They were going to have their tour.
In the dream, I knew that the building was going to come down. And there seemed to be nothing I could do. The problem was as clear as day, but no one wanted to see it. People preferred to risk everything rather than believe that there was a risk. With the senior citizens were two security guards. They had seen the plane hit, but they could somehow not draw the conclusions. They wanted to talk to me about how it could have happened. Wasn't it just some kind of accident? Wasn't someone in charge? And wouldn't everything somehow be okay in the end?
Are your dreams as easy to analyze as mine?
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