Sunday, September 11, 2016
The Wrong Lessons From 911
Yes, 911. We should never forget, especially never forget to honor all the heroes and heroines who showed incredible bravery on that day and all the families and friends who had to live through that agony.
Beyond that, I think we took all the wrong lessons from 911. Ironically, it was New York we should have followed. New Yorkers were determined to go on with their normal lives as much as it was possible to do so in between the chaos and the heartbreak. It was New York that stood proud, determined not to let the terrorists win psychically even despite the terrible pain they inflicted upon us. It was New York that showed courage in facing the missing heart of their skyline.
The rest of us, not so much. We cancelled our vacations and bought duct tape and gas masks. We nodded our heads fervently when our leaders said we needed a new agency, the expensive and secretive Department of Homeland Security. Maybe they'd have to engage in black ops. "Just don't tell us about it", we said.When they informed us of the need for domestic surveillance, we were all in favor. "We doan need no steenken warrants". We were beyond agreeable when they said we needed to go to war - twice. Once in Afghanistan and again in Iraq, where way more Americans were killed than died in the World Trade Center. All because of 911 even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 911.
When we were told we couldn't afford our principles anymore, we were fine with that. Throw them overboard! Torture, extreme rendition, imprisoning people with no clear evidence that they'd ever done anything wrong, no habeas corpus, no due process, no right to testify on your own behalf. The hell with those core American beliefs. Throw them in Gitmo and let them rot! Waterboarding? No problemo.
And, of course, we turned a skeptical eye on all Muslims. Donald Trump said he watched them celebrating in the streets across from New York, which wasn't true, but it fit into our new narrative. Muslims were now the enemy and hell, let's throw in the Buddhists and Hindus while we're at it. It's too hard to tell those weird-ass religions apart.
Fifteen years after 911, which brought us together for about 15 minutes, we're more divided than ever. We not only don't trust Muslims, we don't trust Hispanics either. We don't trust African-Americans, most especially our African-American president. We don't trust LBGTQ people. Every transgender is a potential rapist because God knows, good American white boys would never rape.
We don't even trust each other. Facebook is awash with vitriolic posts about how awful liberals are or how awful conservatives are. Of course, being a liberal myself, I think the worst of it comes from the conservative side. Donald Trump is a perfect vehicle for their hatred of anything not conservative true-blue American. Even liberal churches aren't considered "real" Christian churches by the fundamentalists. There is only one right way and it is their way.
There was a post on Facebook just today with this very picture at the top of this blog that said to "defend it because liberals were trying to get it taken down". What utter bullshit! This picture is just as iconic to liberals as it is to conservatives. Those things are just posted to provoke, to try to get us turn on one another even more.
These are the real scars of 911. Buildings can be rebuilt and even the grief of losing loved ones lessens with time. The worst thing the terrorists did to us was to turn us against each other.