This post was originally on 6 August 2006, but now as September 11 approaches, it’s time to get it where it belongs in time. Charles Bishop’s letter was posted in August because the Austin American Statesman scooped us. They also published Steve Russell’s letter, but not until about the 25th of August. They did not publish either of the other two letters, so they are appearing for the first time in print.
Here is Mariann’s original challenge to the membership:
… announces the beginning of the Statesman’s “anniversary coverage” of 9/11 and invites YOU THE READER to submit 200 words or less to sept11@… disclosing your thoughts on the deadly event, and whether America is now a kinder, gentler, place, with more fearful but safer people etc. und zo forth. I have written my 200, my dears, as an exercise in political discourse and rhetoric, and urge and plea with you to do the same, muy pronto, and to send it off inmedianmente! It would be shame if this special coverage did not include a few rants about the utter ridiculous stupid gravity of it all, and were to be dominated by flag-waving effluvia!!
Nine-11 accelerated ongoing processes of profound change. America’s vision of itself shattered with the physical wreckage, replaced by a distorting mirror of fear.
I am more afraid of my government; less proud of my country. Invasive “security procedures” mock Liberty but don’t stop terrorism, just as gun laws don’t stop crime. Nine-11 wasn’t an “inside job”, but the Bush administration was too ready with regressive domestic legislation and a profitable war abroad.
Public displays of allegiance chill uniquely American freedoms: to be silent, to differ, to criticize the powers-that-be. Years of substandard education have made us sheep, mesmerized by silver-paper “stars” and disinclined to critical thinking. The juggernaut of “emergency” activity following 9/11 crushed attempts to slow the New World agenda, and despite robust Internet dissent, Bush & Co. may well feel smug.
Meanwhile, our small towns languish unless overrun by “development”; meaningful jobs evaporate; and, for late-arriving immigrants, the Promised Land has left the building. Multinational profiteers will soon pave a broad swath of Texas, ripping a limited access trade corridor through America’s heart. Poets and prophets say, “The world is a ghetto,” and the U.S.A. is another bad neighborhood.
Harder than haiku!
“Nine-eleven changed ev’rything!”
It is absurd to believe that the United States has become a safer place since 11 September 2001. It is more difficult to smuggle a box cutter onto a commercial aircraft, but it is just as simple to sabotage a water supply, a large chemical plant or oil refinery, or a majour port now as it was in 2001.
The war in Iraq is generating USA-haters at the rate of almost 4 per hour, by my rather conservative estimate (based on 30 Iraqi civilian deaths per day each of whom had just three grief-stricken relatives). Having followed Iraqi bloggers closely for three years, it is clear that they (and their local readership) are becoming less sympathetic to the “war on terror.”
After all, how can one fight terror? It is as ridiculous as fighting altruism or faith. It seems foolish to repeat the obvious, but if the effort had focused on al Qaeda until that task was better in hand, perhaps there could have been a measure of success. As it is, we lied our way into a war in Iraq at the potential expense of the nation (via an impending national bankruptcy). Frankly, if true, it will be no loss.
Port Angeles, Washington
The events of 9-11-01 were horrible crimes, but we are not at war with terrorism. If Mohammad Atta had been caught rather than consumed in flames, he would not be a prisoner of war. A terrorist is not a soldier but a criminal. The laws to deal with terrorism have been in place since the Barbary pirates, and any nation can punish the crime or declare war on a state harboring terrorists. This is not new and there are legal tools to deal with it.
The President said, by way of explanation, “they hate our freedom.” His solution domestically has been to take away our freedom so they will no longer hate us. Logical as that is, our safety is not increased by diluting the Bill of Rights that is supposed to separate us from our adversaries. It’s easier to cede our power to the government than it will be to get it back.
The invasion of Afghanistan was a legal and justified act of self-defense, although bungled in execution. There is a legal war against Afghanistan, which harbored terrorists, and an illegal war against Iraq, which did not attack us. But there is no war on terrorism.
My Thoughts about a Post-9/11 America & World
The attack on 9/11 produced a “pissin’ contest” between two political parties to see who could be “more” patriotic than the other. This would have been humorous had it not led to the “Patriot Act” and an abused “War Powers” resolution to initiate an unprecedented preemptive attack on a sovereign nation, resulting in an “out-of-control” civil war in Iraq!!
I do not believe we are a safer nation, and most assuredly not a safer world since the events of 9/11.
The inept, misguided lurch into the Iraqi War has created MORE terrorists, MORE attacks and MORE killings, yet the most expensive military force in the world cannot conquer this “third-rate” enemy!
Our once Great Nation is now a wholly owned subsidiary of multi-national corporations who could care less about protecting our borders or insuring our American workers have decent incomes! They would rather “outsource” American jobs to third-world countries so “their” shareholders can earn a dividend!
The result is an uncontrolled inflationary spiral that has placed a great many financial hardships on the American people.
The tragic events of 9/11 “stopped the world” for a day — its aftermath will continue to change the world for generations to come.
Charles E. Bishop