In 2005, I said this about the World Trade Center attacks: “I’m so glad to read personal accounts because that was what struck me about the media coverage from that day — and for about a week or so after — the grand hype machine had stopped, and all we heard about were real people.”
I’d like to think now that reflecting on the folks who died that day was they only thing we need to do, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The repercussions of that day have reverberated much wider than the 3,000+ poor souls who died in those buildings. The foundation of our country is shaking, continues to shake, from that day, and we as a nation have changed profoundly, in some dark and disturbing ways that threaten our nation, our people, our government, and our way of life.
Our system of government has certainly changed. We used to have a government of checks and balances. Now the executive branch is so powerful that it threatens to overwhelm the very freedoms America’s citizens are supposed to enjoy, and Congress and the courts struggle in vain to curb presidential military misadventures and government intrusion into the lives of it’s populace.
Our economy is on the brink of collapse and our middle class is in danger of extinction. Between corporate greed, the unchecked power of the presidency, the exploitation of 9/11 to justify devastating military spending, and wholesale shipping of American jobs overseas, regular Americans have a bleak future of grim hard work, suffering from lack of medical care, and preventable early demise to look forward to.
Our standing in the world has descended from the sole remaining superpower who could lead other countries to freedom and prosperity by example, to a diminished shadow under the rise of Chinese influence and a resurgent and very disturbing Russia. Once American principles of freedom and good works are now more readily associated with European countries as our moral standing is diminished in the wake of unjustifiable military actions and revelations of torture and prisoner abuse.
Our sense of national security has been completely wiped away; though we are probably in no more danger from terrorist attack than we ever have been, we’ve allowed our government to panic and fire wildly in perhaps every direction than where danger might actually be coming from, and though we’ve spent billions of dollars on security measures, we’re really no more prepared for national emergency we were on September 10, 2001.
For all the ringing cries over the past seven years of “don’t let the terrorists win!” we have indeed, let a handful of religious zealots armed with nothing more than box cutters and complete dumb luck alter almost every aspect of American government, lives and culture.
I’d say we helped them win.