11 September 2007

Thoughts on 9/11

I have a strange and complex emotional response to 9/11. Casting my mind back six years, I remember the shock and horror and fear, the anger and awe. It is one of those things that you don't forget. I recently saw the 9/11 movie with Nicholas Cage, and it was a wrenching emotional experience -- it brought back all those emotions as fresh and as vivid as they were in 2001. But it's curious -- I don't really connect those feelings to "9/11" any more. Some might say that I have forgotten, but that is inaccurate. Rather, my emotional response to 9/11 has been replaced by another. The intense, unique feelings that day induced have been displaced by more chronic, less intense but more pervasive feelings of anger and betrayal.

In 2001, the President had a rare opportunity to lead a truly unified country. All Americans were, for a little while at least, united behind him in our desire to see justice meted out to the perpetrators of that vicious attack, and to see America made stronger and safer. Bush could have led in a manner consistent with that national spirit; he had the opportunity to become one of our great presidents. But we all know that's not what happened.

Now, when I think of 9/11, the first thing that comes to my mind is the way that contemptible little man in the White House has waved the bloody banner of 3,000 dead Americans to demagogue the American citizenry into a state of fearful acquiescence, to impugn the patriotism of the opponents of his policies, to mislead the country into a war of choice, and to justify a continuation of that war long after the strategic objectives have been lost. 9/11 was used as a pretext to strengthen the power of the police at the expense of civil liberties, to arrogate unprecedented and dangerous powers to the executive office, to dishonor our servicemen and women by authorizing torture, and to detain American citizens indefinitely without access to any judicial body.

I feel angry. Osama bin Laden and his followers attacked America. But all the damage they did was knock down a couple of buildings and kill a limited number of citizens. I don't mean to minimize the tragedy and trauma that represents for those who directly experienced the attacks, or the families of the slain. Certainly, their experiences are life-changing and not to be dismissed; my sister-in-law was in NYC on 9/11, and can attest to the suffering that day. But the damage caused that day was relatively contained; America is resilient and will recover from this, as we have recovered from other national traumas. Bush has misappropriated 9/11, and the symbols and emotions linked to it, to inflict deeper and more long-lasting damage to our nation and the constitutional framework of our government. And so 9/11 makes me angry.

And also kind of sad.

And lest you think me callous, I do mourn the lost of 9/11, as I mourn the lost servicemen and women of the Iraq War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the civilian casualties of the Iraqi people.


  1. It makes me more sad than angry that such a level of human tragedy has become a trite and cliche footnote in American history. If Pearl Harbor galvenized our nation, 9/11 tore us to shreds.

  2. "The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got."

    "Any government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes."

    "America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

    "I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people."

    "When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." - George W. Bush

  3. re:"When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." - George W. Bush

    Yep when W took he "action" he picked the wrong target and placed us in a quagmire. This is your idea of "being decisive". The fact is if we had REALLY taken the fight to the REAL enemy (Bin Laden and Al Queda IN AFGHANISTAN, then Bin Laden very likely would be little more than a dead bad memory and Saddam would still be a toothless tiger who could fly over only 20% of his own country and additionally begging the internaational community to buy his oil. Guess W showed everybody right...not. 1/20/09 can't get here soon enough.


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