Of The Attack
Between those on the aircraft, those on the ground, and the first responders, we have lost close to 5,000 people.
Of The Response
460,000: The number of civilian deaths just in Iraq. Extrajudicial killings of American citizens. Torture victims. Our civil rights. Non-War Zone drone killings. Wedding caravans. Women and children and schools and hospitals.
Of Our Fear
The immediate spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes was by far bad enough. Then, we had to deal with idiots attacking people that we miss-identified as Muslim.1
Beyond those thousands that have died, there are thousands more who we have essentially abandoned. It took a moment of national embarrassment at the hands of Jon Stewart to get a bill passed to partially address their needs. We should all be ashamed.
I cannot fault the troops for doing the job placed in front of them. I will damn sure fault the civilians that hold the chains on the dogs of war.
In almost every instance, our troops have demonstrated courage, bravery, and honor in the performance of their duties. We have asked far too much of them, and given far too little in return.
We have been extremely remiss in our treatment of our troops, from wages and funding2 to healthcare when you get home to the insane number of duty tours to the very fact that we have been at war for 18 consecutive years.
9/11 was a national tragedy.
It precipitated a global tragedy.
It will take the perspective granted by time and distance to determine where this ranks among the list of American atrocities. From the vast number of dead to the ongoing refugee crises to the inroads made against civil liberties to the revitalization of the old cancers that linger in the American bloodstream…
I can’t help but feel that our reaction to 9/11, however pure it started out as on 9/12… It became the precursor to the rise of fake patriotism3, to the rise in people seeing dissent as unpatriotic, and in the end, the re-emergence of explicit white nationalism we’ve witnessed not just here, but around the globe.
I can only hope that as we add years to the divide, we add the perspective needed to walk back some of the worst policies and attitudes we’ve developed. I also hope that an engaged minority electorate can serve as a conscience to help right the ship perhaps faster. We need to stop expecting the world to acquiesce to the absurd idea that ‘American Exceptionalism’4 means that American lives are somehow worth more than everyone else’s.
The first step toward America being as exceptional as it could be is for our nation to project actual power and strength in the form of creating peace rather than death. We need to live up to our principals, rather than treating everything as transactional. We need to recognize ‘America First’ is the motto of a bully, not a partner or a leader.
Aggression is not strength.
Pridefulness is not leadership.
War is not peace.