I write this on September 11, 2013 with a rather sick heart, not so much because of what happened on 911, although, of course, that was and still is, heartbreaking, but because of the lessons we learned (or didn't learn) from what happened that day. The dead of 911 are at peace now and hopefully, the survivors have moved on from the immediacy of their pain. We have a fine new memorial at Ground Zero to honor the heroism that took place there.
As for the rest of us, for all our reverential posts on Facebook about remembering forever, what have we actually done to deserve their sacrifice?
America had never been attacked on such a massive scale before so, in our fear, we agreed to a war that had nothing to do with 911 and agreed to staying in a war years after its initial justification was gone, eventually losing more of our soldiers than people who were lost on that fateful day. We agreed to allowing ourselves to be subjected to domestic surveillance. We created a ginormous new secretive bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security, with no serious provision for oversight. And now we are surprised that it has overstepped its bounds? I would have been more surprised if it hadn't. Give any agency or person too much power, especially in darkness, and they will tend to use it. That is a simple fact but we ignored because, well, 911, you know.
Because of September 11, we have trampled on all the principles we used to hold most dear about America - we became torturers although we helped write the original international bans on torture. We engaged in extraordinary rendition. We built Guantanamo to hold people forever while spitting on due process and habeas corpus and the right to know the charges against you and to face your accuser - all bedrocks of the American judicial system. It's as if we fear these pathetic survivors far above their power to now do us any harm. We are too afraid to do away this a shameful place and even allow the few that are left onto America soil. Is that living up to the courage of the 911 victims?
We thought for a while that that horrific event would bring us all together, remind us that we are all Americans, all fighting for what we believe is the good of our country, respecting one another's intentions, even when we disagreed on what that "best" was. That was the case for a while, a very short while.
Now we despise each other, hold one another in more contempt than I have ever seen in my lifetime. It's not enough for the other side to be wrong, they must be Libtards or Repugnicrats. They must be either morons or near treasonous. It's not enough to disagree with our president, he must be demonized as a non-American, non-Christian, Muslim sympathizer, shredder of the Constitution, destroyer of the country. That way impeaching him would be justified when, in reality, its all the ranting of spoiled pre-schoolers who didn't win the coin toss to get to bat first.
And, of course, for some of us, American-Muslims have become the bogey-men. We paint them all with the same brush as if they are all terrorists. In fact, we resent the hell out of anyone who isn't a "real" American, be they Black, Latino, Asian. Think how wonderful the U.S. would be if all those "foreigners" hadn't come here to ruin out beloved country, well, except for the Native Americans, of course.
And now, today, the two-million motorcycle patriots are riding to Washington D.C. to meet the Million Muslim March. What do we think is going to happen? Will there be a confrontation, an awkward stand-off? All those people posting hurrahs to the riders, what is it they want them to do when they get there? Have they thought that far ahead?
As much as we mourn and cherish the memories of the fallen, the perpetrators of September 11, 2001 caused way more harm to America than even those tragic deaths. Not only did they take all those precious lives, they took our sense of community, our principles and our nerve.