Thoughts on seven years since 9/11.

It’s that day again. Seven years ago a bunch of guys deluded with fantasies of an invisible sky fairy promising them virgins in Heaven flew planes full of innocent Americans into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and an empty field. Everyone on the planes died along with over 3,000 other people in New York and Washington D.C.. But you don’t need me to recount the story. Chances are you’re already very familiar with the events that took place. It’s not like we Americans have let it stray far from our minds much since that day and we only get more obsessive about it on the day’s anniversary. We’ve politicized it, used it as rationalization for all kinds of things we never would’ve considered before, hid behind it to shield us from the criticisms we got for abandoning some of our most cherished ideals, and turned it into a big stick that we’ve used to bludgeon others into doing what we want in the name of fighting terrorism. For the Republicans in particular it’s been one hell of a windfall because not only can they use it to manipulate people with fear, but they can work up a good mock outrage when someone calls them on it.

We like to talk a lot about how we haven’t let the terrorists win, but it’s clear looking back over the past seven years that the damage they inflicted on this country went well beyond just the physical destruction of life and property on that September morning. We started off in the aftermath on a positive footing by coming together as a nation in a way not seen since we got involved in World War II. The decision to invade Afghanistan was almost universally supported not just by Americans, but by most of the rest of the world. President Bush enjoyed what was probably his highest personal approval ratings of his career and the world was not only sympathetic to our cause, but ready to join the fight. And then it all started to go wrong. Our leaders decided it was high time they made an example out of someone in the Middle East and were arrogant enough to think that they could force a regime change onto a country that they honestly believed would reward them with adoration and become a shining beacon spreading democracy to the rest of the region. They also saw an unprecedented opportunity to expand their power to new heights under the guise of National Security and they ran with it as far and as fast as they could. The damage to our civil liberties and freedoms caused by a power-hungry administration are an indirect result of the actions of those terrorists seven years ago and it has far reaching implications not just for Americans, but for the rest of the world. Most of the people sitting in indefinite detention in Guantanamo aren’t Americans, but that hasn’t saved them from the abuse of power of this administration. Perhaps the terrorists didn’t achieve total victory, America still exists after all, but they achieved far more of their aims than we like to admit. And the worst part of it all is that we helped them to achieve those goals.

As for my own viewpoint, when I look back on that day I can’t help but put part of the blame on religion for the events that occurred. President Bush kept saying that we weren’t waging a religious war, but it’s clear that the terrorists were.  It’s yet another in a long line of examples of what happens when people take their belief in books about Gods as the literal truth. While I’m sure we’d find other reasons to fight wars if all religions were to die out tomorrow, I can’t help to think that events such as 9/11 would become all but impossible if they did. In the end it’s hard to say what upsets me more: the fact that some people used their belief in God to motive themselves to commit mass murder or what America has done to itself out of fear and paranoia since that day.

26 thoughts on “Thoughts on seven years since 9/11.

  1. It all started to unravel when Bush and Rumsfeld’s obsession with Saddam Hussain got the better of them.  The world went gladly into Afganistan with the US.  There are soldiers from all over the world still there, including contries sneered at by Republicans.  The Taliban are brutal religeous nutters of the old school. Many people were glad- for them (especially women) it was a liberation.

    But Daddys friends obsession screwed that right up. All he has done is raise a rallying flag for the enemies of the USA.  And today, when both McCain and Obama have suspended campaigning, for a presidential address to say that his action have made America safe with no attacks since then show why this man can not leave the Whitehouse too early.

  2. Les- very nicely said.

    LH- would it be overly cynical of me to suggest that our administration’s obsession with Saddam Hussein also has a wee bit to do with all our oil that somehow got under the sands of Iraq?

  3. Im afraid to say that America and their diabolical foreign policy created their own frankenstein monster.
    The american gov has to hold its head in shame in sponsoring bin laden in the 1970/80s.
    Both the amaricans and the brits funded fundemental terrorism.
    If McCain win this election god help us all.Were doomed.

    Americans need to get their heads out their arses and realise that further alienation of middle eastern countries will bite them in the ass later on.

  4. We’re doomed, we’re all doomed.

    I saw a link on the BBC site earlier that said “Majority of World wants Obama victory”.  Now before any Columbine launches into ‘its none of your business’ actually it is, whether we want it to or not. The US is ‘the elephant in the room’ (lipstick optional). Not only does it lead world economic policy, but it sometimes dictates it, and the rest of the world finds its future has been made by the votes of half of 5% of the world population.

    And lets face it, the Whitehouse has never been shy at telling other countries how to run their affairs.

  5. That about says it, LH: the US is the elephant with lipstick, and kisses all of us, whether we want to be kissed or not.

  6. Gosh, I thought the Koran had been mistranslated.  Instead of “virgins” it should read “white grapes”


  7. Yes, I’ve heard that too, SG.  But what’s the diff?  I’ve also heard that Isaiah was mistranslated by the authors of the New Testament, and “born of a virgin” should read “born of a young woman”, which might have made a wee difference.

    LH- I’ll do my best.  But did they poll Saudi Arabia?

  8. “white grapes”

    Raisins actually.

    To hell(!) with the 72 virgins, half a dozen sluts would be fine.  I like a woman who knows what she’s doing.

  9. To hell(!) with the 72 virgins, half a dozen sluts would be fine.  I like a woman who knows what she’s doing.

    People frightened of women like women who don’t have a clue themselves. And the madrassa-educated Koran-fetishists are about as far removed from knowing women as possible.

  10. The stated goal of the terrorists behind 9/11 – not the hijackers themselves – was to make America live as they do: in uncertainty, apprehension, and fear. The hijackers, the ones we revile most, were just tools. Our even continuing to bring up their part in this is like witnessing a bludgeoning by hammer – and then prosecuting the hammer.

    Even Osama bin Laden said that he wanted us to suffer the way his people have suffered. He wanted us to know fear and suspicion. Well, by that yardstick, the Bush administration handed them that victory on a silver platter. We DO live in fear and suspicion. Just take an airplane trip. Not only is this mania for airline security a classic example of shutting the barn door after the cattle have scrammed, it has become the chosen Boogey Man for the Repubs to scare the shit out of gullible voters – i.e., the only ones they have. I got furious with the TSA after my wife and I were detained at the Denver airport by some of those yoyos who said that SHE – paraplegic and in a wheelchair – showed EXPLOSIVE residue. We’re in our fifties and live in a lily-white Seattle ‘burb. When she asked them what the explosive was and how she might have come into contact with it, they said they can’t tell her that. Whatever mystery substance it was that she supposedly contacted, she’s just gonna do it again because we sure as hell didn’t TRY to do it the first time but we have no way to avoid it in the future. I was so angry with the TSA agents that I clammed up tighter than a tennis ball. I have no poker face, so everybody around knew I was royally pissed and THAT became an issue, “Sir,” one agent sneered at me, “Do you need to have someone come over here and explain this to you?” “No,” I answered, “Because none of you understand that what you’re doing is wrong.” That resulted in twelve to fifteen TSA agents and police standing about ten feet away from me, muttering and shooting me dirty looks. Finally, a supervisor came over and asked what my problem was.

    “Look,” I answered, exasperated, “What was the stated goal of the 9/11 terrorists.”

    “To kill Americans,” she replied.

    “No,” I said, “You’re wrong. The stated goal was to make us as fearful as them. And that’s what you’re engaged in every time you come out here and punch your time clock.”

    “Well,” she snorted, ‘What are we supposed to do? Just let them kill us?”

    “You’re supposed to exercise REASONABLE caution,” I shot back, “My wife has now been subjected to every test you have. What’s next? A proctoscope? You didn’t find any ‘explosive’. It’s at least as likely that your silly little sniffer machine is screwed up. Here’s what you’ve accomplished: you scared a 55-year-old paraplegic grandmother and pissed of a chubby middle-aged crank. Congratulations. What a freakin’ day’s work!”

    She sighed and rolled her eyes. “It does you no good to get angry,” she said, “All that accomplishes is to get you upset and make me waste my time.”

    “You sure did that, Ma’am,” I nodded, “You wasted my time and I’ve wasted yours. Let’s call it even.”

    She sighed and walked off.

    I know these people are only doing their jobs. I know they are caught in the middle, just like those of us who have the sniffers up our tails. I even sympathize. But the whole exercise is just another divisive scenario in this communal illusion we’re all participating in that says if we do this or do that, we’ll be safe. In reality, the whole airline threat was used up on 9/11. If we’re attacked again, it will almost certainly not be a mass plane hijacking because the terrorists know, now, that military jets will scramble, next time, and the planes they take will be blown to bits over a cornfield. If some group wants to inflict dire injury on the United States, they’ll find a way, probably organizing and equipping it from within our borders. But, thanks to Dubya and his shameless pandering to our darkest fears, we now look askance at EVERY Semitic person we encounter, get anal-probed at the airport, get our license plates photographed at borders and ferry terminals, and can’t even cross the formerly-friendly Canadian border without eleven forms of ID and the right skin tone. And then the border agents act like they’re shooting craps when they do pass a car into the country.

    Where does this all end? I admit I have no clue. The worst part of all is the attitude that so many people have now that says it’s a good idea that we surrender some of our “less important personal freedoms” in return for security. I read history. I know where this leads. But you know what they say about those who don’t study history…

  11. Thanks for telling your story, Steve.  You showed a lot more patience and forbearance than I would have in that situation.

  12. Unfortunately (and I write as someone who has been trapped in the middle by managements over-zealous interpretation of law) there are two many people who place ‘fairness’ above common sense.

    A woman in mini-skirt and crop top drinking beer and eating a ham sandwich is not a muslim fundementalist.  However, to discount her is an act of racism.  Oddly enough if police were looking for a rapist, tehy only DNA test men.

  13. Darnit, I clicked the wrong link and unsubbed myself from this thread.

    At any rate …..

    Thanks for sharing your story, Steve.  I was also accosted by the airport Gestapo, in 2002.  I was merely returning from my hometown after burying my husband, who died very unexpectedly on the morning of his own father’s funeral.  Needless to say, I was absolutely beside myself with grief.  They tagged me as a potential terrorist, only because I wasn’t pleasant.  Yet if someone is pleasant under those circumstances, it would be far more suspicious.

    Earlier this year, I was invited to be part of a US delegation of criminology pros to China.  Remembering my encounter with the airport Gestapo from years prior, I chose to pass on the opportunity, rather than be subjected to the increased scrutiny which would undoubtedly accompany a trip to and from a communist country.

    The entire situation is bullshit.

  14. There you guys go, again, claiming that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The way you talk about it, people will begin to believe you. tongue wink

  15. I never believed in that saying, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    First of all, the whole quote is “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    I believe the first part, but it is more correct to say that the greater the power, the fewer inhibitions there are on the one who wields it, but the second part us useless, because there’s no such thing as “absolute power”  It’s like being perfect.  It just doesn’t exist.  The sad truth is that corrupt people are attracted to power, but the power doesn’t MAKE them that way.  They got there on their own, or someone else raised them that way.

    And second, Lord Acton was a dork.

    Here’s a better quote to use:
    “Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

    As for Steve, he’s correct, but I DO blame the security people in the airport, the TSA and other federal employees.  Yeah, they might just be doing their job, but this is one of those things where they should have the common sense to say “No.  This is wrong and I’m not going to do it.”  You don’t let employees off the hook when they steal under orders, or if they threaten other people because their employer told them to.  Just because our leaders are acting like scared children doesn’t mean that our own responsibility to be decent people is abdicated.  I haven’t flown an airline since 9/11 for that reason, and I will never fly one until the situation is corrected.

  16. our own responsibility to be decent people

    What – are you some kind of atheist? Since when do we the people have responsibility? Didn’t that dude, Jesus, take all that away from us?  tongue laugh

  17. elwed- chilling.  As someone once wisely said, we Americans are making enemies faster than we can kill them.

  18.   I haven’t flown an airline since 9/11 for that reason, and I will never fly one until the situation is corrected.

    And with reports like this one, who in his or her right mind would?

    Eh? Solution is simple – just don’t fly to or through the US.

    If McCain is elected, my 2010 North America/US trip is simply not happening. Childish, sure – but that is what I will (not) do.

    What I really wanted to say is that I’ve flown long haul tons of times since 9/11. Mostly between Europe, Asia and Australasia. And while the Australians have stupid signs on their airports saying that you will be arrested if you make jokes about terrorism, I’ve pretty much always been treated courtously.

  19. Eh? Solution is simple – just don’t fly to or through the US.

    Well, I live in the US, so that’s not really an option, although if McCain wins, that may change.

    The reason why I don’t fly is to avoid the hassle, not just because it’s a hassle, but because since I can’t keep my mouth shut during times of incredible stupidity, if there ever is an “incident”… I’m going to jail.  I know my limitations.  It’s not worth the risk smile

  20. Pingback: I’m done with writing about September 11th. | Stupid Evil Bastard

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