Michael Stipe Discusses 9/11 And U.S. Nationalism In New Essay

    R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe has never been one to hide his politics or shy away from social commentary, so a new essay published in artist Douglas Coupland’s new book Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything and subsequently republished by The Guardian about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the response of the American government, media, and citizens may not be shocking, but it is a good read.

    The essay sits along 9/11-inspired pieces by Coupland, and in between discussing his personal interpretations of the art, Stipe tears into American nationalist attitudes following the attacks.

    Here he explains the long-lasting effects of the choices of former President George W. Bush’s administration and the media’s support for those actions:

    The 9/11 attacks and the 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.

    He goes on to discuss the unseen side-effects of unwavering patriotism:

    More and more, what we “feel” about collective history seems like something manufactured, and kind of pumped into us, rather than a real emotion. It’s all so framed by the sense that reality doesn’t exist any more, or at least not in a way that is alterable or questioning.

    The essay even touches on the NSA, invasive technology and privacy:

    I’m seeing ourselves watching ourselves and it’s deeply frightening, as a new form of infrastructure that relentlessly monitors and peels back our privacy, our mysteriousness, our individuality, in every way. Do we all need to feel like we’re living in a movie, thousands of unseen cameras invisibly choreographing scenes with our words, our actions, our movements? And are we almost to the point, thanks to the internet, of providing ourselves with our own laugh track?

    Read the rest of the essay here.