Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No 9/11? No Diggity

Leave it to Tom Wolfe to take the piss out of just about anything. This week's New York Magazine asks a number of prominent city folk "What if 9/11 never happened?" Amid all of the sanctimonious and self-serious commentary, there is this from the firebrand in the ice cream suit:

The New York real-estate market would have become so hot, hot, hot that by now developers would be converting grand old hotels such as the Westbury, the Stanhope, the Mayfair, perhaps even the Plaza, into condominium apartments selling for $10 million and up. By now a socialite would be any young woman who has appeared in three or more party pictures taken by Patrick McMullan for any of a dozen or so fat party-picture magazines. A local music genre called hip-hop, created by black homeboys in the South Bronx, would have swept the country, topping the charts and creating a hip-hop look featuring baggy jeans with the crotch hanging down to the knees that would have spread far and wide among white teenagers—awed, stunned, as they were, by the hip-hop musicians’ new form of competition: assassinating each other periodically. How cool would that have been? Two historic pillars of the New York economy—shipping and garment manufacturing—would have vanished by now. There would be 40 empty piers on the Hudson River, and the only shipping would be an intrepid but decrepit aircraft carrier welded to a dock and turned into a museum. Meanwhile, a little known Asian country called Bangladesh would be manufacturing more clothes for the American market than Manhattan’s West Twenties, West Thirties, and Chinatown put together. Latins today would make up 40 percent of the city’s public school population, easily outnumbering black students (35 percent), while the white component would have declined still further (15 percent). The big news, however, would be the surge in the number of Asian students, which might have rocketed upward by as much as 10 percent a year. The city would have had two Republican mayors in a row for the first time in modern history. There are no silver linings in 9/11, and it is no consolation to say that at least we didn’t wind up with a senseless, baffling, flotsam city like that.


elizabeth said...

couldnt they have asked instead-what if Bush had never been elected. what a waste of time-its like fawning over that one guy from 10 years ago who never liked you back (there was only one of coarse)-its pointless, but if they were going to ask something, why not ask something that could really get people to reflect on all the conspiracy theories. maybe someone people consider important would have said 9/11 would never have happened if Bush had not been elected. anyway, tom wolfe remains one of the greats, so good point.

MW said...

yes, i agree it's a ridiculous hypothetical...but i loved his response, because he's basically saying - it didn't change a damn thing...

wassupjohjoh said...

I think it's equally pointless to sit broken-hearted over why Bush was elected to a second term, or to spit out vitriolic criticism of foreign policy while driving a 14 mpg SUV while paying >$3.00 for a gallon of gas.

But, while we are on the topic, and at the risk of getting into a political rant: What would have been different had Gore or Kerry been president? We'd still be the most hated and the most loved nation on earth. And most assuredly, there was still and still would be terrorism against us and our allies.

Instead, we should focus on this hypothetical: What if Americans were not addicted to foreign oil? I think that's the only realistic question on the table.

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