Former REM frontman Michael Stipe marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Thursday (11Sep14) by offering up his 'state of the America' thoughts in an essay published by The Guardian newspaper.
Recalling the atrocities in New York, which took place just blocks from where he lived, the singer admits he's far from impressed with the efforts to honour those who lost their lives 13 years ago, insisting the building of the Freedom Tower on the Ground Zero site where the Twin Towers once stood is more about "nationalism" than "patriotism".
The Stand singer writes, "The Freedom Tower was meant to inspire patriotism and instead embodies the darker sides of nationalism. The 9/11 attacks and the (George W.) Bush administration's response, buoyed by the media, and our shock at having finally been direct victims of terrorism, paved the way for a whole new take on 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself'.
"There was no longer any need to explain or publicly debate militaristic power, or the police state mindset. To do so was to be the opposite of a patriot."
Taking aim at the post 9/11 flag-waving and the political use of slogans like 'Support our troops', Stipe continues, "Is that who we are now? Blind, unquestioning, warlike? Are we that violent, that childish, that silly, that shallow? Are we that afraid of others? Of ourselves? Of the possibility of genuine change? Are we that easily swayed, that capable of defending 'American interests,' whatever 'American interests' means? Are we that racist, that terrified, that protective of an idea that we don't even question what the idea has come to represent?"