Shame on Those Who Would Exploit 9/11

As the nation pauses this weekend to reflect on the 9/11 catastrophe, I am heartened by a revived sense of oneness.

The collective remembrances published and broadcast by the news media have tapped the emotions that inspired Americans to unite, as only Americans can, in the gut-wrenching days and weeks following the previously unthinkable attacks that changed our lives.

So it is with disgust that I single out those who would use the tragic event as a divisive force.

Detroit’s bid to rally the nation’s spirit is well-documented. In addition to their humanitarian relief efforts, GM, Ford and Chrysler launched aggressive marketing campaigns – including 0% financing programs – to combat looming economic paralysis.

But the contributions of other auto makers were, understandably, swept away in the torrent of news items that flowed from 9/11. And the unprincipled among us drew erroneous conclusions that evolved into an Internet smear campaign.

One infamous e-mail, circa October 2001, contrasts Detroit’s response with the alleged inaction (and implied indifference) of Asian and European OEMs. “Please think about this when you buy your next car!” it says.

Even though urban-legend debunker refutes, company-by-company, the callous claims, the lies live on.

Just recently, an angry man whose industry affiliation I will withhold, bellied up to me and fashioned a zero with the forefinger and thumb of his left hand. That, he emphatically and smugly declared, was the sum total of Toyota’s contributions to post-9/11 aid programs.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Toyota gave $1 million to the American Red Cross and matched pledges made by its employees.

Clearly, the angry man chose to remain ignorant. To do otherwise would invalidate his preferred point of view.

Shame on him, and anyone else, who so manipulates our pain.