The sister of a pilot who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack ripped comparisons between 9/11 and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a Thursday opinion article published in the Wall Street Journal.
Debra Burlingame’s brother, Charles “Chic” Burlingame, was murdered in his cockpit during a six-and-a-half-minute struggle trying to keep control of American Airlines flight 77. He was 51 years old.
Although she recognizes that members of Congress had a frightening day when people stormed the Capitol building, Burlingame said it doesn’t compare to the roughly 200 people who chose to jump 80 – 100 floors rather than be burned to death. She tells the story of one woman who was permanently disfigured and had to spend three months in the hospital after suffering burns to 82% of her body when a plane sent a ball of fire down an elevator shaft.
Over 3,000 kids never saw their parents again after 9/11 and victims’ remains were still being recovered years later. On Jan. 6, Congress returned within hours, writes Debra Burlingame https://t.co/dZ7Q2lhC7t
— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) May 28, 2021
“There are countless harrowing stories like this—of death, destruction and heartbreaking loss,” Burlingame wrote. “More than 3,000 children lost parents. Eight young children were killed on the planes. Recovery personnel found 19,000 human remains scattered all over lower Manhattan from river to river, including on rooftops and window ledges. Victims’ remains were still being recovered years later by utility workers and construction crews. Some families received so many notifications of remains that they couldn’t take it any more and asked for them to stop. More than 1,100 families received nothing. Their loved ones went to work that morning and disappeared.”
The 9/11 attack shut down the New York Stock Exchange, destroyed part of the Pentagon and 16 acres of lower Manhattan, and shut down our national aviation system, she pointed out. On the other hand, Congress resumed session just hours after the Capitol riot. (RELATED: USA Today Editorial Says Republicans Are Bigger Threat Than 9/11 Hijackers After Cheney Ouster)
“It is deeply offensive and sad that the brutal and harrowing memories of the worst terrorist attack in American history are being deployed by political partisans,” Burlingame said. “They are using 9/11 not as an example of what the American people endured and overcame together, but explicitly to divide, to stoke hatred and to further a political agenda aimed at stigmatizing the other party and marginalizing ordinary Americans from participating in the political process. That is the real threat to democracy.”
Burlingame argued that it should matter that the vast majority of people at the Capitol on Jan. 6 did not want to kill anyone or overthrow the government. Real terrorist attacks on the Capitol, like Weather Underground attacks in 1971, 1972 and 1975, have been “forgotten because they came from the political left.”
“We are living in perilous times,” she said. “When a modern democracy deploys forces of intimidation—whether government, corporate media or cultural institutions—to promote the ruling majority’s propaganda, it is time for good people to stand up and object. The world-changing attack of Sept. 11, 2001 shouldn’t be used, either as precedent or moral authority, to create a commission whose sole purpose is to turn a straightforward law-enforcement failure into destructive political theater.”