Before the day September 11, 2011, comes to a close, I thought I might take a bit of time to remember. I offer my sincerest respects and sympathies to those who survive the victims. I was 18 at the time.
TL;DR: The rest of my pondering is not so much about 9/11, than about the political turmoil that ensued.
Although I was enraged at the atrocity, I was probably more enraged that to the 24-hour news corporations and to political pundits alike, it was the greatest thing in the world to see all those people murdered. Almost no mention of the fact was made that there were signs of such an attack on the horizon for years, and further precursors were largely ignored by the Bush administration in the week leading up to the attack. Instead of saying, "we should have seen it coming," everyone acted surprised and outraged, and basked in all the attention their news networks were suddenly receiving, and wasted no time assigning scapegoats: mostly liberals and Muslims.
An unpopular president instantly became very popular, and exploited his position as only a skilled politician can. If I were a soldier I would have hated to be sent to Iraq and risk being killed or mutilated by an IED every single day knowing full other soldiers were in Afghanistan fighting the real bad guys. And I would have hated all the military propaganda telling me every day that I was risking life and limb for the sake of the motherland, and that our campaign in Iraq would ensure peace and safety for the United States some day.
Still, given so many good Americans were working on military operations in Iraq, I suppose it was inevitable that an awful situation could be made better: Saddam Hussein was caught, and things have sort of improved in Iraq, despite all the other problems we caused and the countless lives lost.
Now, 10 years later, the real murderer was finally killed by an even more unpopular president. I have lost almost all respect for Obama over the past 2 years, but he does deserve respect for giving that order to actually catch Bin Laden. Cheers to the CIA and special-ops guys who actually caught Bin Laden. They clearly did their job well.
I wonder how hard Bush actually tried at catching Bin Laden? Was the intelligence on his whereabouts really so difficult to gather that it took 10 years to do it? This one TV show I saw suggests that Bin Laden could have been caught with a dedicated team of counter-terrorist experts, and single, nearly invincible agent with a flawless sense of patriotism and duty could have done the job in 24 hours. But I guess that show is more entertaining than it is realistic.
In the meantime, our homeland is increasingly falling under the control of religious fascists in the manner reminiscent of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Those of us who actually understand the importance of democracy, free enterprise, free speech, and the separation of mosque and state, er... I mean separation of synagogue and state, er... I mean separation of church and state, er... I mean the separation of RELIGION and state, have been trying, and often failing to fight back the fanatics with everything we can afford to throw at them. Fortunately, we have an excellent (but grossly over-funded) military, and I give thanks to those who serve to protect us from foreign invasion. Because of them, our greatest threat to freedom is not from abroad. The threat is only from within our borders... and the threat is not coming from the liberals.
Hopefully, we aren't turning into the distopian nation depicted in 1984, with their thought police, perpetual wars, and ministry of truth. The thought police is not necessary because your church community does the job of policing your thoughts quite well enough. The ministry of truth is not necessary -- we don't need a government-run propaganda factory because the free market has created News Corp and Fox News for you. And our perpetual war is... well maybe it will end someday.
So here is the historical narrative: this police state that is slowly enveloping us has been at least 30 years in the making. September 11, 2001 was only the tipping point -- the critical event that set off our landslide down the slippery slope. But as long as there exist people who agree with this narrative, perhaps we can avoid a police state after all, and climb our way back up the slope. Let's never forget that.