Today marks 18 years since that fateful morning when terrorists hijacked three aircraft, crashing two into the World Trade Towers of NYC, resulting in the collapse of both iconic skyscrapers. Chances are you remember where you were that day, and how it felt. I personally saw the plume of black smoke obscuring the island of Manhattan where the towers used to be.
On the plus side, we came together as a people to stand against what happened that day. But on the downside, we gave up a tremendous number of our freedoms and allowed our lives to be fundamentally changed in the name of freedom.
Like it or not, the terrorists won
I know that eventually, our military struck back at the terrorist cells based in Afghanistan, and along the way chased out the horrible, inhumane Taliban in the process. Yes, eventually Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of that attack, was brought to justice.
Even still, they won.
We fundamentally changed our behaviors in reaction to that morning’s attacks. The government gave a ton of power to the President to take certain actions, which in turn has allowed for the current President to do awful, unprecedented things. In the name of security, we gave up a lot of our freedoms.
Don’t believe me? Go to the airport and get on an airplane. How long does it take to get through security? Do you think it’s really necessary to remove your shoes and limit liquids to sample bottles?
Need more examples? The government still maintains a lot more power for search and seizure than they should have, after the USA Patriot Act passed. It may have changed and partially “expired,” but it still impacts everything we do pretty heavily.
The newfound nationalism has also caused the backlash you see happening against immigrants today. Muslim countries are automatically suspect, despite the fact that most of those people are no different from you and me. Paranoia increased noticeably; violence, intolerance, and other ugliness against anyone not white-skinned has grown to levels not seen since the 1950’s; those in power used and continue to use fear created as an aftermath of that morning to hold onto what they have.
If you don’t think the current Presidency and actions and inactions of the Senate leadership are not a direct result of 9/11, I don’t know how to convince you. Yet they are. When all is said and done, unfortunately, the terrorists won that day.
Never forget but still remember
It is important to remember that this was the first attack on US soil in decades. We need to remember the people who were lost, on Flight 93, in the fallen towers and the other two aircraft that were crashed, and the first responders, police, and firefighters killed and still fighting health issues resulting from exposure to toxins when the towers fell.
We also need to stop letting the memory of this day drive false patriotism and white nationalism. A lot of the unfortunate realities of the nation as it stands today thrive on that.
The result of the terrorist attacks against the United States briefly brought us together until they were used to further tear us apart. Divides were widened, the scope of who the enemy was got directed towards a whole people in a way that is far worse than an issue with another country.
In the 1950’s it was the Red Scare and the fears about communism that drove some of the ugliest bits of our history. Today, when Russia has actually factually taken actions against the nation, our leaders are turning a blind eye in the name of partisan politics. If Russian interference with American elections didn’t help the Republican Party this would not go unanswered as it currently is.
Today’s state of the nation is a direct result of the aftermath of 9/11. Remember that as elections come up and fear is used to keep us in line.
Be mindful of propaganda versus facts
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, is the quintessential mediocre man. Unlike most of those who went before him, his life accomplishments are not tremendously noteworthy, and not so different from lots of “Average Joes.” Probably the source of much of his popularity.
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, was in no way mediocre. He is an intellectual, his life accomplishments are tremendously noteworthy, and he overcame multiple barriers to become President. Many “Average Joes” were (and frankly still are) intimidated by him.
Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States, is an embarrassment. His actions continue to make this nation a laughing stock, he is doing harm that will take a long time to undo on many fronts, and his ignorance, self-aggrandizement, and narcissism know no bounds. I think he picked up most of President Bush’s followers with his celebrity status, despite his utter lack of savvy and various other obvious character flaws.
Legitimate news agencies are being derided by Trump as propaganda. This is not the truth. They are imperfect, are not capable of completely avoiding bias, but the “fake news” is far more fact than propaganda.
The insecurity borne of 9/11 has helped to feed this, and that is something to be more vigilant about.
You may find this article offensive because you think I am being disrespectful to the memory of those lost 18 years ago today. I disagree because I think this article is about truly respecting their memories — by not being blind to the aftermath of that day, and working on ways to really make this country better.
We owe it to those who suffered, continue to suffer, and who were lost that fateful day.