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Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 Ten Years On

It’s been ten years now.

A decade today.

And frankly, I think that’s about enough.

There comes a point where you have to stop reliving horror over and over.

There comes a point where you have to say enough, this and no more.

I think a decade is enough time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the events of September 11th, 2001 were traumatic on a national scale.  911 was a shock like no other in American history, hell, maybe even in world history.  The modern Information Age saw to that, bringing it right into our living rooms without any delay to soften the impact, live and in horrifying color. 

All of us remember where we were and what we were doing on that terrible morning, I know I certainly do

I’m not in any way saying that we should forget, but there comes a point where you have to allow history to become history.

There comes a point where you have to move on.

Today marks a decade now, since 911.  In that time, we went to war and seven thousand more Americans, some of our very best, died.  Tens of thousands more were maimed and scarred and damaged forever.  Hundreds of thousands of innocents died.  Entire countries were laid waste and we became a callous people who could look upon those devastated lands and say, well, you know they had it coming, all of those bastards had it coming including their goddamned children. We became a nation that tortures people and disappears people and detains people, including our citizens, indefinitely without trial or recourse in abject repudiation of the very spirit of our nation’s own founding – and we are unashamed of that and unrepentant.  We have become a nation where, as an American, you must put aside your freedom a dozen times a day. You must show your papers. You must submit to naked body scanners and you must allow unsmiling uniformed men with the force of secret laws behind them to grope the most intimate areas of your children and yourselves. Such has become the price of freedom in America. We have become a nation  where you – as an American – can be detained for a glance or a gesture or a careless word or for checking out the wrong book from the library or for worshipping the wrong God.  We have become a nation where the only acceptable response to uniformed authority is immediate and polite submission, talk back, question, stand pat on the rights of previous generations and you’ll be branded an enemy. We have become a nation that claims to revere liberty and justice, but believes those things can only be had when secret agencies monitor our every email and our every communication without warrant or probable cause. 

The day after 911, September 12th, 2001, Congress stood upon the steps of the Capitol with the smoke of the burning Pentagon still hanging in the air above their heads and solemnly pledged to the American people that they would put aside their partisanship and their personal agendas and work together for the sake of our nation.  And in the decade since we have become a nation divided instead, a nation of partisan rancor writ large – and those who stubbornly proclaim their patriotism loudest are the very ones who would lead us into civil war and secession.  They would destroy what terrorists could not.

In the decade since 911, we have found those responsible, rooted them out, and ground them into dust.  It took ten years, but Osama bin Laden is dead at the hands of Americans.  So is his successor. So are hundreds of his lieutenants.  So are thousands of his foot soldiers.   So are many, many others, including Americans.

But it has not brought us closure.

It has not brought us peace.

It has not healed us as a nation.

911 was horrifying. It was personal to us all, every single American. It left us scarred, as a nation, traumatized.

And we keep using that horror as an excuse to lash out in a massive case of collective post traumatic stress disorder.

The wounds of that event run deep and are still raw a decade later – but those wounds will not heal so long as we keep picking at the scab over and over and over.

Today, we will relive the horror yet again – a fevered nightmare that simply won’t go away because we will not allow it to go away.  

Again, don’t get me wrong, we should always remember the events of September 11th, 2001, just as we remember Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the hundred other events that shocked and traumatized our nation. But if we are to heal, if we are to move on, we have to stop reliving that horror over and over. 

Certainly we should build the memorials and lay the wreaths.

We should always remember the names of the fallen and hold them sacred.

But we need to stop covering ourselves in the blood of that day.

Today, right now as I write this, hundreds of media channels will play the recordings of those trapped in the towers.  They’ll play those recordings over and over and over again. Recordings of the tortured calls to emergency services and the final calls to loved one.  And we’ll listen, yet again, to the intimate agony of those dying people.  They will play on endless loop the videos of those who jumped seventy stories to their death, lingering lovingly on their faces, speculating about their last moments, reveling in the horror. They interview those who witnessed the death and destruction and horror and they’ll beg, “Tell us what you were thinking. Tell us what you were feeling at that very moment.” We don’t need to know what they were feeling, what they were thinking, because we felt the same exact thing. We’re still feeling it. But we’ll listen anyway. And we’ll watch the towers fall. We’ll see the Pentagon crumple and explode.  We’ll hear the tapes of the air traffic controllers, of the horrified confusion in the towers, and the phone calls of those Americans who fought back above the corn fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  

I hear those tortured voices, I see those dying faces, and I don’t feel hate. I don’t feel a need for revenge. Instead I feel revulsion.  There is something obscene about listening to 911 calls, any 911 call.  While those records may have value to history, it is nothing but a voyeuristic grotesquery to broadcast those intimate communications to a public jaded by reality TV and violent slasher flicks. 

It serves no purpose whatsoever but to keep open festering wounds that should be long scabbed over.

Today, pundits and politicians will use this anniversary to drive us further apart, to reopen the wounds, for their own selfish agendas, to further inflame partisan fervor and to brand their neighbors as enemies and un-American. 

And we will let them do it, because in the decade since 911 we’ve become a nation of cutters who hack at our own flesh with mean abandon.

 

Since 911, an entire generation has been born and grown to self-awareness.

Those young Americans have never known their nation at peace. 

They have never known a nation that is not divided.

They have never had a single day where they weren’t told to hate their neighbors and to report them if they don’t seem patriotic enough.

They have never lived a single day in a nation that wasn’t bent to the terrible business of revenge.

They have never known a nation that didn’t roil in fear and cringe in terror every single day.

They have never flown on an airplane without having been treated like a criminal.

They have never checked out a book from the library without having been subject to secret scrutiny.

They never sent an unmonitored email or made an unmonitored phone call.

They have never lived in a house that isn’t subject to unwarranted search.

They have never had the right to redress or legal challenge when their name is placed on secret lists – and in point of fact, they don’t even have the right to know if their name is on that list at all.

They have never lived in a nation where they have the right to confront their accuser and demand proof of more than just suspicion.

They have never lived without the threat, however unlikely, of being disappeared.

They have never lived in a nation that didn’t regard the torture of human beings as an acceptable option.

This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.

 

The terrorists didn’t do that.

We did it to them.

 

It’s been ten years today.

It’s time to move on.

66 comments:

  1. It's time to stop living in fear. Especially for the so-called christians, because if they truly followed what christ taught, they would not fear death, they would be concerned for the least among us, they would ask for forgiveness and not continue to remain greedy & selfish, etc.

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  2. I was living in southern New Mexico at the time. We got Mexican network TV. They don't have even what passes for standards of decency that the US networks showed.

    Not just the 911 calls: I saw things that should not have been broadcast, played over and over and over. That was the first thing that Nick mentioned this morning when we were talking about the events of ten years ago.

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  3. Thank you, again, for saying what needs to be said and heard. I'll be shutting down the computer now and avoiding all media. Heartsick.

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  4. Thank you for this one Jim. I have avoided media coverage of 9/11this year for many of the reasons you mention. And you have managed to put the feelings I have about our national obsession with this tragic event into wonderfully simple yet eloquent prose. So thank you for giving a voice to my emotions. I hope as a nation we can move forward from this event with respect and dignity. While we remember those that were lost, support those who have to carry on without their loved ones, and learn from the mistakes that were made before AND after, so they will never be repeated.

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  5. Thank you.

    I've worked in the North Tower, the WABC-TV Transmitters. I lost friends there beside the man I knew from work.

    The community where I've lived since 96 lost a lot. NYPD and NYFD both have a sizable presence in our midst. Most fire departments here are volunteer and many are in turn members on NYFD or NYPD. Far too many fire houses have flags at half staff with a name or three out front.

    I don't want to forget but I've no wish to see or hear it again.

    My son had worked for the city for perhaps six weeks, his emergency post was as a gofer in the Command Center. He got held back and sent to City Hall because the Mayor needed somebody to carry something for him. By the time they got to the Command Center it was gone.

    So no, I don't want to hear the 911 tapes, I don't want to hear what was left on answering machines.

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  6. I agree, Jim, and that was sort of the theme of my blog last night. Moving forward.

    I was only able to watch a couple of hours of the coverage this morning, because is was still pretty overwhelming. But it was a nice ceremony. The memorial is beautiful and meaningful, and perhaps that will be the giant leap to move this to the 'history' sections of our lives.

    Nice piece, Jim. Thanks.

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  7. I read an article today about how it's getting harder and harder to educate the kids about 9-11, because they don't remember that day. The article was written in a "this is bad, these kids won't have the same feeling about it." I take that as a good thing.

    What we need to do is teach them that all those things you mentioned are not normal.

    I'm happy the kids these days didn't grow up knowing what was and wasn't a primary target (those of you old enough know what I mean). They didn't have to learn that the Russians were people you hated.

    I'm not happy that we traded those things out for a new set.

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  8. For what it is worth my son was then sent to the Emergency Emergency Command Post, the passenger piers in the Hudson, which are huge empty flat spaces. He got there and discovered that who ever was in charge was having a serious panic attack.

    He went from gofer to Director of Logistics and Communications for the Command Post. That literally was the equivalent of a promotion from recruit to full Colonel in 48 hours. He ended as the Mayor's Deputy Press Secretary. Not bad for kid we weren't sure would make it thought high school

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  9. On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was riding a bus to work when my cell phone rang and I was told that "something strange was happening in New York involving an aeroplane" - then the signal dropped out and I had to wait until I got to work to realise the full horror of that morning. Ten years later the horror remains, just changed by time and perverted by political dogma.

    I like America: I have visited it frequently (albeit with a lot more difficulty in recent years) and I have some good friends there. That being said I am saddened by the current state of that country and, hard though it is to say out loud, I am glad now that I didn't choose to live there when I had the opportunity. I will continue to visit my friends as long as it remains possible with my funny foreign passport and my strange accent and I will hope against hope for an outbreak of sanity and a return the kind of common decency that I have always valued about most of the American people I have met. Until then I will respectably keep my distance and hold onto my hopes.

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  10. I will always remember 9/11 as the day that I stopped being a mild-mannered, humble, "I know I'm in the minority so you religious people do whatever you want and I won't make a peep" agnostic.

    I decided I was an atheist.

    I decided that religious fanatics need to be held accountable.

    I decided that I would only vote for reality-based candidates, not loonballs who think they can help bring about Armageddon with their foreign policy and wars, and that would be a GOOD thing.

    I'm not the only one. Judging by the comments on atheist blogs and boards, a lot of people had a similar experience. I wouldn't be surprised if 9/11 became a major holiday for atheists.

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  11. Thank you, couldn't agree more with you and the other comments.

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  12. I don't think the fear comes from the events of 9/11, but what has come since. All these new phobes. Fear of Islam, fear of government fanned by the rhetoric of politicians. 9/11 gave them and the media the perfect script. We survived an extreme tragedy, the resolve was there and I think still is. So, how do you shut up the fear mongers, the snidely whiplashes?

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  13. Very disturbing and wrong-headed blog. I'm certain that no one who was alive during Pearl Harbor forgets what happened. Because the slaughter of innocents sickens us, we cannot urge it be hidden away block. Fear of war and death, rather than ignorance of it is precisely what helps people and governments find the will to take steps to avoid entering one. At the same time, we must never forget the need to stamp out terrorism. Will we sacrifice more innocents because the chore is dirty and disgusting? One doesn't have to hate, but one absolutely cannot ever in good conscience stick their head in the sand and pretend this dark event didn't happen. The world fundamentally changed that day. It's the first step in forgetting about the past and laying the first bricks to repeat the episode in the future. Historians since Aristotle have reminded us to remember and learn from history.

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  14. You have eloquently put into words exactly how I feel. Thank you.

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  15. Excellent -- captures my feelings to a tee.

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  16. Anonymous@2:23

    I am forced to assume from your astoundingly ignorant comment and your knee-jerk shallow patriotism that you are deliberately trolling. I simply cannot believe that anybody could read what I wrote in this post, or in any other, and walk away thinking that I actually said that Americans should forget the events of 911. In this post, in point of fact, I specifically said that we should remember, we should hold our lost countrymen sacred.

    What I said, as I'm sure you damned well know, Anonymous, is that it's time to stop wallowing in it.

    What I said is that I'm sick and tired and revolted by people just like you, who attempt use 911 to further your own vicious agenda of hate and fear and partisan rhetoric.

    Anonymous, I have paid my respects to all the victims of 911, and I've paid my dues both in and out of uniform and on and off the battlefield and I've got a goddamned box of medals around here to prove it. Now, fuck off back to Glenn Beck land and don't comment here again.

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  17. Anonymous@2:23

    Again, don’t get me wrong, we should always remember the events of September 11th, 2001, just as we remember Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the hundred other events that shocked and traumatized our nation.

    Just in case you weren't actually trolling and really are as ignorant as you appear.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Everytime you post, you give me so much hope that there are others out there with level heads and functioning brains.

    I actually wrote a piece a little similar to yours today; I hope you don't mind, but it feels appropriate to share: http://www.thepopulista.com/?p=214

    Thank you for being one of the few saying what so many people need to hear. It's time to dust off and move on.

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  20. I don't mind, Alex.

    For the rest of you, Alex's post at The Populista is well worth the read.

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  21. I was in Connecticut working on 9/11. I had planned to be in New York, but an urgent meeting kept me away. The air travel shutdowns kept me from going home to Canada for a while and I stayed and mourned with Americans.

    In 2003 I was back working in the USA, but things had changed. Already people were starting to be afraid of their neighbors and security had become more intrusive. I had to watch what I said and wrote. After my contract was finished I decided not to travel in the US anymore and I haven't.

    While the 9/11 tragedy was brutal and horrific, it really is time to move on. Move on before your freedoms are lost forever.

    I'd like to visit my good friends again and enjoy the freedoms that America once offered.

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  22. After writing my comment above I started thinking more about how the security apparatus in the US affects me.

    When I talk to my friends by phone they are aware that it is an international call. There are certain countries whose names they don't want me to mention. Most politician's names are off limits. We sometimes speak in a kind of code so voice recognition software won't become interested. Instead of receiving a link to a political blog I get something like "Go to CP and see the second article about that biblical country". And we're not plotting or even saying anything the least bit seditious. My friends just don't want to attract any attention.

    It's now become second nature and the more I think about it the less I like it.

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  23. http://vampyre-nmp.blogspot.com/
    If you read my last two posts I think you will see we are very much on the same page! You are more eloquent than I and so I will be posting a link to this post by you on my Weble!
    I am so glad you and others are starting to see that wallowing in National Self Pity has NOT been good and does nothing to make us better as a nation!

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  24. I suppose I might as well share my own bit of 9/11 irony here, too.

    Back on that day, I was peculiarly oblivious to the goings-on. When I went to my University to take care of some banking business, among other things, a newspaper with a big Twin Towers picture caught my eye. I figured it must just be the anniversary of the 1993 bombing, and wondered if it was really justifiable putting a picture from back then so big on the front page, just for an anniversary?

    Sure enough, when I got around to looking at today's paper (after I had first posted the above elsewhere), there was the giant picture of the new tower taking up about half the page, and the rest of it was all about the anniversary too.

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  25. Sorry I am in disagreement of a lot of this commentary on 9/11. While I do agree that 911 recordings and other recordings and photographs should not be republished (should never have been) I do not agree with the hateful attitude you paint Americans with. Some certainly may feel this way, as for myself, I wanted to understand what would drive other human beings to such an act of utter desperation to get our attention. I am certain that the response they got was not the one they were looking for although they should have expected it. Violence does beget violence and historically the United States does not take kindly to sneak attacks on our country. I never once cheered at the news of casualties on either side, death is not to be celebrated. What I did carry away from that day forward is a profound sense of the fleetingness of life and a new appreciation for the life I have and all the people in it. I do not feel restricted in my freedoms. People still hold anti-america rallies here in the U.S., they still burn the American flag as a part of their protest. I only wish the "so-called" impediments to my freedom had been in place the day of the 9/11 hijackings. If these tragic events could have been prevented by scanning or pat downs I gladly would cheer the person or governing body who put them into use. That would have saved the lives of countless thousands, those in the planes, the WTC, the Pentagon and in what is now our latest war zone.

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  26. Thank you.

    I posted something abbreviated, but very much in that same vein on my FaceCrack feed when I first woke up this morning and saw nothing but copy-pasta from my friends and family. One of my best friends snapped at me for it, but that was her problem, not mine. The wallowing in the blood and horror is sickening and needs to stop. 911 is not a fetish and yet I see it being treated as one every year.

    Thank you. You are more eloquent than I and as I do every so often, I have tried to steer my friends and family to your insightful words.

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  27. Here's the thing: the world only changed for some people that day. For some folks, bombs and attacks by fanatics and lack of freedom and constant vigilance was called an ordinary day. It sucked that the U.S. was attacked by a bunch of religious zealots, but it does not make us super special in terms of how the world works. It made us more like folks in other countries than we acknowledge.

    It is a fine thing to remember, to honor, to mark the loss of so many. It is perfectly reasonable to share the memories of friends, loved ones, even friends of friends, who suffered that day and afterward. But we do their memory no justice if we agree to be less open-minded, less willing to insist upon our rights, less likely to step outside of our comfort (or sorrow) and consider other paths to victory over people who wanted to see us cowed.

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  28. Well said Jim, thanks for stating the thoughts of many

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  29. With all due respect, Carol Everett, there is no guarantee that all the security we live with now would have stopped doodly squat. We do ourselves no favors in thinking that. People poke holes in and make end runs round all that security stuff every day.
    It all reminds me of the phony safety we were supposed to feel crawling under our desks in the 50s
    to practice for nuclear attacks.
    Just because people still protest the government does not mean there are no impediments to moving freely in this country, associating freely, or truly questioning authority.
    For many of us raised with the whole commie-behind-every-bush BS with ole J Edgar Paranoic stirring the pot, this last 10 years has been a pitiful revival of the worst we can be with the added twist that the bogey used to scare us as kids is the set of methods we now submit to to pretend we can always be safe.
    Thank you Jim.
    Appreciate this post a great deal.

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  30. My heart broke for the victims that were killed and injured on 9/11. Not only the innocent people working and living or traveling, but the first-responders and bystanders who tries to help. It is an event that should be remembered and taught as any historical attack has been. Personally, I find it difficult to be "patriotic" in commemoration of the day that my religion became the scapegoat for all things evil. I will remember the victims as I will remember the victims of all out wars but will not allow hatred to harden my heart.

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  31. Jim, this is pretty much what I wrote but had already decided I would not post... I haven't shared anything except a memoriam to the service animals that served that day and posted that I chose to not observe any commemoration or observances.

    We've freaked out about potential attacks the past week yet numerous threats have been eliminated without fanfare or publicity over the years. I'm satisfied knowing that we are vigilant without the over-reaction from the press for a possible threat...

    Finally, many of us here have lost friends that day and since... and I memorialize them in my way... but I'm torn at the need for many of us to have serve or continuing to serve but the senseless reasoning and mismanagement...

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  32. I'm impressed that you gave it ten years, actually. On 9/11 itself, I couldn't be torn away from the television. I watched the towers fall over and over, from every different camera angle. I needed to keep watching it, to accept that something so unbelievable had actually happened, to make it real.

    And then, some time on the second afternoon, I just kind of hit my limit. It was enough, and I simply couldn't watch anymore.

    So I turned off the TV, packed 9/11 away into the box of horrible things that human beings have done to each other, and hoped -- really hoped -- that some NATION would claim responsibility for it so that America would have a legitimate direction in which to vent its considerable rage.

    Every year since, I've taken a moment or two to reflect on the incident, to mourn the dead, and think about what a real world-changing event it turned out to be. But no more than that. Honestly, I stopped wallowing on September 12, 2001.

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  33. Amen, man. I was saying to my husband today that the people who perpetrated this were far more successful than they ever could have imagined - but in a very tormented manner. They brought us a type of government suppression that would make the USSR envious. We needed a new boogeyman since the end of the Cold War and, wow, this succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations. We are moving toward the type of religious, suppressive government that the perpetrators would like - but with Jesus at the helm instead of Allah...

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  34. Thank you Jim;
    You have an innate ability to articulate the truth. I feel the same way, but I simply don't have the gift of the art of language the way you do. I spent a week stuck (?) at a remote radar site turning wrenches in a power plant alone, trying to process what had happened. Couldn't fly, couldn't stop to reflect. May as well just keep working and try to move on. Each new defense of our security seems to be a double constraint on our, well - liberty. I'm loathe to use such a worn-out cliche - but it is true.
    So - what do we do?
    Urge our lawmakers to resist knee-jerk national security laws? Good luck with that. Who wants to be the person who voted against a security measure right before some other attack takes place?
    Are we doomed to more and more of this? I really hope not.

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  35. I grew up in and out of New York City, commuted there for many years and was in town less than a week after 9/11. Two things struck me.

    First, people were relating to each other. No-one was wearing headphones. No-one charged through me on the sidewalk. Doors were opened. Everyone cared.

    Second, the walls of the city were plastered with "missing" posters - 8 1/2" by 11" mostly white paper, with a black and white photo, a name and a brief bio. It was the single most poignant memorial I have ever seen, emerging from the loss and grief.

    Despite having traveled under, around and in the towers for many years, I have never been back. I doubt I ever will. It is too painful.

    The terrorists sought to turn our strength against us by triggering an auto-immune attack on our own body politic. We have lashed out, clamped down, dug in, but still live in fear.

    To quote the inimitable Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and it is us."

    Thank you, Jim, for this post and all the others. You are a beacon of sanity in this increasing crazy country of ours.

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  36. I object to the fake security measures that have been put into place. Bruce Schneier calls it "security theater" and has been writing about it for years. We have spent billions of dollars to defend against the last attack (airplanes), and we just keep piling on more unproven technology searching for exploding bottles /shoes /underwear, while the attackers just stroll over to another method or another target (bombs on trains in Madrid or London, or buses, or people). Yet none of our trains or buses are one bit safer now than 10 years ago. We've built a hideous, expensive, intrusive bureaucracy calling it "Homeland Security", whose operatives are allowed to use methods that tear away more and more of our precious liberty. Other countries spend 1/100 what we do on some better trained police, not a security-contractor-industrial complex. Maybe it's because their corporations aren't "people" and haven't bought as many politicians? I don't know.

    I _have_ said, many times, that if a foreign nation did to us what we are doing to ourselves under the 1984-newspeak-named "Patriot Act" we would consider it an act of war. How shameful.

    So why are we doing this to ourselves? Fear. Lack of knowledge of risk statistics. Fear. Lack of foresight to prioritize funds for emergency preparedness instead of security theater. Fear. Sensationalism by the media to drive advertising sales. Fear. Politicians promising to "keep us safe" at the cost of a little more and more and more of our liberty to get votes. And Fear.

    We used to be the "home of the brave". Now, if you listen to the politicians, we're the home of the scared.

    I served in uniform in the early 1990s and have a Defense Service ribbon, though I never saw combat. I felt it was important to serve my country. Now I keep voting against politicians who promise to keep me "safe". Even scarier, I vote against politicians who promise to keep my wife and son "safe". Their promises aren't worth anything, because politicians can't really keep me "safe". Even if they could, it's certainly not worth it when the illusion of safety comes at the cost of my family's liberty. Freedom is supposed to be risky, and this decade of Fear has been just too expensive.

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  37. One more thing... I work for a civilian agency at a military facility. They have "upgraded" the security around here, spending millions of dollars on fancy front and side gates, with pop-up barriers and a few hundred feet of extra-heavy reinforced steel fencing. (Don't worry, little bucaroo, this is all quite visible to the eye from the outside. We're surrounded by private houses and public streets.) So what protects the rest of the several _miles_ of perimeter of this so-called "secure" facility, surrounded by regular city and county streets? Yup, you guessed it, chain link fence with some rusty barbed wire on top. Some of it doesn't even keep out wild deer.

    This is a great analogy for the rest of the security theater in our country. Does this make you think of the fun you have at a big airport with the TSA, versus, say, the several thousand miles of bare coastline and border? No, I'm not saying we need a fence around the country. I'm not saying all security is worthless unless we live in a police state, hell no, but there's got to be a better way.

    For example, we've got little to no coordinated emergency response set up for a disaster, any kind of disaster, be it natural or man-made, that kind that strikes the USA every single year. Don't you think that would have been a better use of billions of dollars than wasting it making airports _appear_to_be_ just a tiny bit more "secure"? I do.

    I wonder who is going to be the first idiot concern troll to tell me I've compromised the alleged security of my undisclosed location? Or ask me how I'd feel if it was my son who got blown up in an airplane. I'd feel like shit, that's how I'd feel. I'd want justice... or revenge. But I wouldn't blame the people who are paid and trained only to look for yesterday's threats. As a country there has got to be a better way than the stupid security theater we're doing now.

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  38. Thanks again Jim. I look forward to reading your posts. I am amazed by the amount of ignorance within the populace of our country. Keep shining the light on the truth, and maybe someday we will be a unified and fearless country again.

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  39. (recently at an American airport)

    Do I have to go through that thing? "No sir, do you choose not to? Yes.

    At that moment, I was told very loudly directly in my face to stand here, look forward only, keep hands at your side and touch nothing. Yikes! As he yelled through the crowd of the shoe-less, belt-less cattle people, obiously seeking a higher in command, all eyes, uniformed and not, turned on me. Yikes! The shoe-less quickly put their eyes down and carried on hoping to get this part of flying over with, the uniforms scowled and stared as I was left standing there for at least 3 minutes being told repeatedly not to move, keep looking forward. Holy shit. After another minute I asked, sir can I just go through the machine now? That's not possible now, he said. So I was a prisoner of the TSA. The scowling man who finally showed up yelling at the first guy for something, took me bodily by the arm and led me to a spot in the middle of the machines and patted me down, no doubt completely by the book, treated me with verbal disdain throughout the whole pat-down asking things like, you make trouble like this all the time, you must enjoy this.
    Asshole!

    I can't describe it well enough here but let's just say I lost a hunk of respect for where this country has gone since 9/11.

    You lay it out clear as a bell Jim.
    Thanks.

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  40. You may not have seen it Jim, but you are not in the minority on this.

    For a most enjoyable take on this see Dick Cavett's little column from a few days ago.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/the-great-melvino-or-our-mr-brooks/?scp=3&sq=Dick%20Cavett&st=cse

    The other part of this column is well worth a walk down memory lane.

    Jane

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  41. All of those "memorials" on the tv yesterday weren't really memorials. They were there to continue to feed fear, to keep the same policies and procedures in place. Here in good ole Texas, politicians were exploiting the whole thing to call for more of the same.

    I only watched a minute or two; I haven't seen such creepily fascinating visuals since "Triumph Des Willens." Different story, but same purpose. Leni got nuthin' on American media, they've learned well.

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  42. Thanks, Jim, for a thoughtful post. I think a lot of people agree with you. It was a horror, but unfortunately the world is full of horror. It seems sanctimonious and arrogant for Americans to say this is one of the most horrible things that has ever happened. Huh?! That is a truly ignorant and narrow-minded thing to say. I remember when this country rose above this sort of thing, now we can't seem to get enough of it.

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  43. It is helpful to know there are others here in AK thinking and feeling the same as I do about events, good or tragic, being used for hype and manipulation. Thanks.

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  44. I don't know what it will take to turn the current fear and insanity around but please keep speaking the truth in your very articulate and sane manner!

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  45. 9/11 was a scary moment for me, but being on the west coast didn't effect me directly.

    A year later I started finding claims that the towers where a demo job, not brought down by planes. Thus started my path into skeptisum in researching those claims.

    I still feel sad about what happened, but now I am tired of it. I am tired of it being used for personal and political adjendas. For policies that do not work and have kept me from flying. From people that think they know the truth, but never seam to be able to produce it.

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  46. I was as shocked and horrified as I suppose most of us were at the time. For me, though, one of the clearest lessons came from the service dogs who searched the rubble. Dogs trained to look for human survivors become depressed and hopeless when all they find is body after body. Eventually they'll quit working. The handlers have to give them a break by doing something fun and rewarding. It restores their optimism and their will to keep on trying. If their need for hope is ignored, they'll shut down completely, sometimes forever.

    So what works for me is to do something that gives me hope - and very often, what gives me hope is to do something that gives another hope. I can't undo the destruction that was done that day. But I can do something material to redress the balance - and *hope* that it will in some small way move me - and (with luck) someone else - one more step away from the disaster. If nothing else, my world is focused on something positive instead of being consumed by ugliness and horror, and that alone is worth at least something.

    Thanks for another excellent and thought-provoking post.

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  47. Thanks Jim. Excellent commentary.

    I did not watch or listen to any media coverage of 9/11, but purposefully avoided it.

    We lost a parent on 9/11/1999, and we've lost two more parents since 9/11/2001, as well as a couple of friends. The 9/11 is only one event of sadness out of a lifetime of sad and tragic events all humans face. It does not overshadow our personal losses, and I refuse to participate in its exploitation.

    Security theater exists because money is made from it by private sector companies. The only way to regain any sense of normalcy and our rights to privacy as well as our civil rights is to force our legislators and government agencies to stop adopting new measures and technologies sold to them by private companies until very thorough examination of them and their possible unforeseen outcomes as well as public input are completed, and the decision making is made by a diverse group independent of elections.

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  48. @MikeB, I hope we return to sanity some day too, but for the rest of the world, be on the alert because your own governmental, economic, and social systems are being chipped away at by the same greed-mongers that have overtaken ours. Corrupting media and pressuring politicians, they are making progress (Just look at the R Murdoch's success in dumbing down the British popular press, as one example). From a self-interested perspective, if the ruthless greed-mongers can overtake and corrupt the values and systems long held dear by Europeans, Aussies, Canadians, etc., then we in the U.S. have no hope of regaining what is newer to our culture than it is to those others.

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  49. @ Anonymous September 11, 2011 2:23 PM: Your comments miss the point of Jim's blog entirely. Your response misrepresents what he wrote.

    As a reminder, it wasn't U.S. military intelligence or U.S. military leaders pushing for authoritarian upheaval against Americans, going to war in Iraq, or bigotry against sort of brown people who just might be Muslims. It was private sector companies with dollar signs in their eyes, jackbooted civilian justice department (Ashcroft and cronies), FBI henchmen (the kind who always need to be kept in check), and civilian politicians who did not grasp the true cost of war that those who've served and were serving do understand. Or they were just cynically depraved or stupid enough to not care.

    The justice department and the FBI were administered by and stacked with idealogues serving the Cheney-Wolfawitz neo-con agenda, just like all government agencies were headed by antigovernment zealots under the Bush administration.

    The military and intelligence communities have been scapegoated by those in civilian life who benefited from our ignorance and confusion.

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  50. @Anonymous September 11, 2011 8:53 PM: You hit the nail on the head, that's for sure.

    Like Alex, I'm relieved when I read Jim's blog, and posts like yours; comforted that I'm not alone in thinking I'm watching what feels like a national insanity. It's comforting to know it isn't me that's gone haywire (well, at least not in this aspect). I'm really observing what my brain tells me is there because other people can see it too!

    What is especially sad, at least to me, is that we are merely repeating history, our own and that of other nations, which isn't necessary but happens anyway.

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  51. @Jerry A. Excellent! So very well said.

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  52. Sorry Jim. I should have combined those posts into one. I had no idea I was going to read so many well written and insightful comments. I found more, but decided it was time to stop anyway. (<;

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  53. @greywinters: That auto-immune disorder analogy? Brilliant. I love it.
    That's all.

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  54. Amen, Jim. Let me just add (at the risk of being redundant, as I haven't read all of these other comments) we need to move on, but with an awareness of our complicity in the events of that day. "They" don't hate us because we're free - they hate us for what we allow our government and multinational corporations to DO to them.

    "They" are fully responsible for their horrendous actions, and so are we!

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  55. Again an excellent piece of writing Mr Jim. I don't fancy being reminded of the removal of my rights either.
    Soon to take a trip outside for the first time in some 13+years. I shudder to think of how freakin weird it has all gotten. I will hold my tongue.

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  56. Jim,

    BZ friend! BZ! Again, you captured my mixed feelings to the T. Sadly, I'm afraid that we are so far down the rabbit hole now that we'll never return to what you and I agree was a confident, courageous and leading country before 11 Sept 2001. We've become what we despise and even from his watery grave, Usama is laughing at us.

    RP

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  57. I'm torn Jim. Really torn. You are so right in what we have lost of our freedoms and who and what we are suppose to be due to partisan hatefulness and greed and sheer evil. Where I get stuck, is having encountered a few years ago, a young individual who said, quite honestly puzzled in conversation "Who won WWII?" Or the friend I have who has fallen to the lie that the Nazi Concentration Camps were a faked lie. I loathe the use of 9/11 to continue to perpetuate hate, partisanship and greed...but I fear too, the day we forget. I fear it Jim. Because its coming. And those that forget will forget how we briefly came together, even though that fell apart later. They will believe lies that say it didn't really happen, or the crackpot conspiracy theories that rise. Someday there will be an individual who will say "Wasn't that faked up for the cameras?" I dodged a lot of the memorial stuff too - was just not up to emotionally torturing myself. But I will grit my teeth and take the media hullabaloo. Because someday, we will forget.
    Besides - I may not have needed my emotions flayed again that day - but there are still those who lost loved ones or who were caught in the mess and horror of that day who DO need the memorial, who do need the catharsis. Freedom gives me the right to turn off the TV, and it gives them the right to turn it on, or to be present at such things. I'll do my best not to wallow. You are so right there.
    Wallowing is not healthy, and its being used by individuals to continue the evils in the name of "patriotism" that you so aptly listed. But forgetting is fatal...and it is coming. Its a good post Jim - I agreed with most of it. Thanks for writing it.

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  58. I am Canadian and of course I remember that day. We all gathered in the office around tvs and radios (internet was impossible to log on) and it was horrific.

    But I agree one can honour the memory of the dead but a nation has to pull up its collective socks and carry on. It's morbid and self indulgent, very much the Oprah / Jerry Springer culture to perpetually moan and thrash about in grief. Looking for ways to reopen the wound. It's not healthy and has produced a nation (Canada too) of victims. The terrorists did score a victory. As soon as the sheeple handed over their basic liberties in return for a false sense of security from the government. And it is false, but it's hard to get the power back once we've handed it over.

    In fact I don't know how we can. Look at the political choices we have...religious nut jobs, people who will promise anything just to get elected, and a population who no longer wants to have personal responsibility for anything.

    JW in Canada

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  59. Thank you, again, for posting this. It seems to become more relevant, year on year.

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  60. Once again, you hit the nail right on the head! As usual I bow to your superior eloquence!

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  61. Sir,
    I am new to your site and have read a few of your articles. I would just like to say, please, carry on the good work. It is rare to find such common sense on the internet today.
    I watched the events of 9/11 unfold on TV here in the UK and was deeply shocked by the whole thing.
    But you are right, it is time to stop re-opening that wound and let it heal.
    I hope that your article reaches more people and that they will stop and think about what you have written.
    Regards,
    Chris-UK

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