9-11 nine years on

It’s strange to think there’s an entire generation of kids who don’t remember the day the Towers collapsed. It’s even stranger to think that there’s an entire generation for whom this was their first “event” memory, the way my generation remembers the Challenger exploding or those in the early 60s remembered Kennedy’s assassination. And now we’re almost a decade into the so-called “long war”, a term I resist because it’s impossible to name the victory conditions….as will become woefully apparent the next time an attack occurs on American soil, as it assuredly will, unless we throw out everything that makes us a free society.

Arguably, the most potent damage that Al-Qaeda did to us that day had nothing to do with the death and the carnage.  Thucydides was deeply skeptical of the ability of a democracy to maintain a coherent foreign policy; the ease with which Bin Laden was able to lure us into Middle Eastern quagmires would have done nothing to change his mind on that score.  An even more severe fallout was the division in American society that the event engendered.  America is weaker now because of the near-fratricidal level of venom and vitriol unleashed by those who would label those who disagree with them as traitors.  To some extent this is the natural tension of a republic operating on the world stage; Democrats tend to forget that FDR’s supporters labeled those who voted for his GOP opponents as aiding and abetting the Nazis.  But that a handful of men operating out of caves could have facilitated such polarization of American society beggars belief.  Nine years later, we mourn the victims, yes, but also the path along which we’ve been careening ever since.


2 Responses to “9-11 nine years on”

  1. AlexJCavanaugh Says:

    We were united the first year or so after 9/11 – and then it began to falter.
    And I remember watching the Challenger explode on live TV, although I wasn’t around yet for JFK’s assassination.

  2. Erik Says:

    Well said! The US is so polarized now that I wonder if there is a way to bring everyone back together. Alex is dead on in that we as a nation were bonded for quite some time directly after 9/11. Not only that, but we were one with the majority of the world. It’s a shame that a few bad decisions at the top let that all fall apart. In the end, we have less freedom than we did on 9/10/01, a rift between ourselves that may be almost unmendable and a staggering debt from the perpetual war we were sold on. I would have to think Bin Laden, if still alive, is pretty pleased with himself.

    It’s so ludicrous now that I have dealt with people at work that are starting to stockpile guns because they think “the shit is about to hit the fan”. I haven’t figured out if they think we are on the verge of some form of civil war, but it’s appalling to see reasonably intelligent people buy in to some of the drivel being sold by the political talking heads. It’s just unbelievable how much hate mongering there is within our own borders. And all of this in some form or another crawled out of the aftermath of 9/11.