Guest / Limited Access /
The Gospel at Ground Zero
Image: Pat Carroll / NY Daily News / Getty

In America, we debate our wars not just with heated speeches but also with dueling banjos. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the radio dial seemed to lurch between the children of Woodstock and the heirs of the Grand Ole Opry. Besides visiting the expected themes of war and peace, post-9/11 popular music plucked at an issue we are now revisiting a decade later: whether television networks ought to broadcast the fiery images of the collapsing Twin Towers.

"You took all the footage off my TV, said it's too disturbing for you and me," country musician Darryl Worley sang. "It'll just breed anger, that's what the experts say; / if it was up to me I'd show it every day. / Some say this country's just out lookin' for a fight; / well after 9/11 man, I'd have to say that's right."

Down the radio dial, pop guitarist John Mayer sang about waiting for a world where neighbors were home from war, where "they would have never missed a Christmas, no more ribbons on their door." Like the hawks in the cowboy hats, Mayer blamed broadcast imagery: "When you trust your television, what you get is what you got, / 'cause when they own the information, oh they can bend it all they want."

On the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we see a revival of the debates over whether news programs should show footage from that day. Some argue that to do so is needlessly traumatizing and inflammatory, and will provoke vengeance and a sense of cowboy justice. Others respond that to censor the footage is to deny reality, a politically correct avoidance of the truth that we live in a dangerous world, where enemies wish to see us buried beneath the rubble of ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Quotation Marks
Current IssueUnder Discussion: Spamming the Good News
Subscriber Access Only Under Discussion: Spamming the Good News
Does it matter that Twitter bots are circulating vastly more Bible verses than real pastors?
RecommendedThe World’s Biggest Muslim Organization Wants to Protect Christians
The World’s Biggest Muslim Organization Wants to Protect Christians
Another major gathering of Islamic leaders denounces extremism.
TrendingNicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.
Editor's PickJust a Vessel: Actor Malachi Kirby on ‘Roots,’ Kunta Kinte, and God
Just a Vessel: Actor Malachi Kirby on ‘Roots,’ Kunta Kinte, and God
The star of the History Channel's "Roots" talks about his faith, his strange route toward his iconic role, and what he learned from playing Kunta Kinte.
Christianity Today
The Gospel at Ground Zero
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.