Traumatic events demand a response that recognizes their impact rather than one that moves rapidly to forgetting the trauma or incorporating it into existing narratives. This article explores four reactions to the events of September 11: securitization, criminalization, aestheticization and politicization. Securitization represents the rapid reinstatement of state power and sovereign control in the face of a traumatic challenge to the state's monopolization of the instrumentalization of human life. While criminalization is less dangerous, it nevertheless involves the depoliticization of opposition and risks outlawing citizen dissent. Aestheticization can be a party to the rebuilding of narratives of nation and heroism in support of state action, but it can also provide a site for critical engagement with the reality of trauma and an acknowledgement of the impossibility of its domestication. Politicization demands a refusal of the easy categories and accepted agendas of what we call `politics' and calls for an engagement with the complexity of the events themselves in all their specificity.