Everyone appears to be marking the passing of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and I figured I would add my own jaundiced view of things. I'll be honest folks, the details of that day are not etched indelibly on my mind. I do remember my shock and surprise, and my own visceral desire for revenge upon those who would bring so much death and destruction down upon innocents. I remember being fairly certain that this time the USA would not stand idly by, that there would be a show of force. And I remember posturing, suspicion of anything and anyone of Arabic descent or Islamic belief, and resolve to never allow such a thing again on American soil.
So what do we have to show for the past four years of actions taken in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks?
...the PATRIOT Act, with its erosion of our civil liberties and 4th Amendment rights in the name of "security". The effects of this single piece of legislation, which Congress is considering making permanent for all intents and purposes, are too numerous to list... but remember the PATRIOT Act next time you check out a book from the library, donate to a charity (that could possibly be a front for a terrorist organization) or see in the news that a US citizen is being held indefinitely without charges being made because we are at war.
...the Department of
FatherHomeland Security, which has absorbed and rendered almost entirely ineffectual such entities as FEMA and INS. Nevermind the fact that DHS has received quite a bit of funding that has added to our deficit, while those departments have gone down the toilet. Oh, and if you're feeling more secure because of DHS, let me ask you this - if we can't keep drugs out of the country, what makes you think we can keep terrorists out?
...expanded airport security, which pretty much has only managed to make the process of getting on the plane more difficult, and forces people to "show their papers" in order to fly even within the country. And yet somehow I don't feel any safer... perhaps it is because I've seen real airport security in other countries.
...speaking of travel, get ready to need a passport to travel to Canada or Mexico. Like if they can counterfeit a driver's license they can't counterfeit a passport?
...a prolonged military operation in Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan, home of the Taliban and hiding place of Osama Bin Laden? Yeah, we're still there, with military resources being spent and occasional US lives being lost for a goal that I am not to clear on at the moment.
...another prolonged military operation, in Iraq of course. Many more dollars and many more soldiers' lives spent than Afghanistan, but with less justification. Nah, this isn't another Vietnam... but if the terrain in Iraq was like the terrain in Vietnam, it would be... a little harder to hide people in the dessert than it is to hide them in the jungle.
...the undying love of millions of Muslims around the world. Not that we were their favorite country before we decided to go in to finish what Bush Sr. couldn't, but nothing helps your standing in the popularity polls like marching into two predominantly Muslim sovereign nations loaded for bear.
...Abu Gharib (sp?) Prison and Gitmo Detention Center. What makes us better than other human rights violators again?
...no discernable change in the foreign policies that got us here in the first place. Like sticking our noses forcibly into situations that are none of our damn business, backing certain countries even when they are so completely wrong that it is obvious to everyone, and acting like we don't have to play by the same rules as everyone else.
I'm not saying don't take a moment of silence to remember those who died for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or to pray for their families and friends who were devastated by what came to pass. What I am saying is do more
- the system may not be perfect, but it is the only one we got. Stay on your elected officials - don't let them think for a minute that trading civil liberties for the illusion of security is acceptable, or that pissing money away on that illusion of security is a good use of funds, or that the way that we flaunt the rules that apply to everyone else is all right. Enough people making enough noise might just shake them from their complacency. Because if we learn no lessons, and make no noise, things will not change.
Do not let the deaths of those four years ago be in vain.