Eating Our Popcorn While We Weep: Remembering Karen Ballentine

7726_143972584424_513199424_2474849_7414566_n 3qd friend Karen Ballentine died Friday after a struggle with cancer. Her comments and insights revealed a keening intellect that dissolved what Auden called the “conventions [that] conspire to make this fort assume the furniture of home,” but one that was still infused with a deep compassion. Her letter to Abbas on the 5th anniversary of September 11th is telling:

Dear Abbas,

When I read that 3QD was devoting all of Monday's blog to 9-11, I had mixed feelings. I know you grieve it, as many of us do. I know you lost a friend. And even for those New Yorkers who came out with themselves and their loved ones unscathed, as I did, still, it was traumatic.

Since then, as we know, so many others…the Bush Administration, the Hollywood executives, the lawyers, the real estate moguls, Anne Coulter, Osama, and every justifiably angry but tragically misguided jihadist has found what they need to promote their own agendas in that tragedy.

Even as we “New Yorkers”, the children of so many different nations, religions, races, and beliefs found our own community, and our own hope, the rest of the nation has been stuck on the virtual (via CNN and the web) trauma, without experiencing recovery, as we all did through the force of our common humanity.

That might be the key difference between 911 and Katrina: both Manhattan and D.C. recovered from the terrorist attacks on 911. But the nation did not.

With Katrina, on the other hand, the nation got over it, but the victims, the dead, their loved ones, their comunities, especially the poor African Americans of the lower ninth, as well as the working people all along the gulf…they did not.

In both cases, albeit for different reasons, America has let its people down.