Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th, Seven Years Later

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Here we are: seven years after 9/11, the day on which 19 pious men showed our pious nation the dangers of religious certainty. It was the day on which 19 men, believing they were doing the best thing possible, had their holy intentions twisted into madness that erased the existence of three thousand innocent people - people who had never harmed or intended to harm a Middle-Eastern man or woman. The people who invaded our nation and slaughtered the innocent were despicable.

And how did we respond to these monsters? By lashing out at a nation that had no culpability in the attack of September 11th, 2001. We have marched into a sovereign nation and have destroyed, by our own hands, the lives of 90,000 Iraqi civilians - people who had never harmed or intended to harm an American man or woman.

Yet, somehow, we are supposed to view America as the hero. And what have we wrought from all of it? Defeating terrorism? We have sixteen spy agencies in this country, and every single one of them concurs on the fact that we are producing more terrorists through our actions in Iraq. Should we be surprised? Terrorism is a tactic, and Islamic fundamentalism is a belief - both are impervious to bullets.

In our panic to mete out justice, we have claimed the right to detain anybody we wish, indefinitely, and without warrant. We are torturing these people. And most Americans, when it is mentioned to them, do not even know about it. I can't help but wonder how many of them even want to know about it.

We have forsaken our humanity, not to unmake inhumanity elsewhere, but in order to avoid living in fear - even as we are cultivating a new generation of terrorists for our children to fear. We are not heroes. This is not boldly saving the world; it is insanity.

Only seven years later, and this is what we have become: a cowed populace guided by weak leaders hiding behind play-acting and bluster. The America we love is better than this. If you are a conservative, it is time for you to stop voting in lock step with your party and hold them accountable for forgetting the true meaning of "conservative" - it means loyalty to the constitution and to this country, not fealty to Dear Leader. It means loving the country and defending it from the people who have taken the collective sympathy of the civilized world we enjoyed after September 11th, 2001, squandered it in a matter of years.

Politics and global policy is not a wrestling match - not every issue can end with the victor trotting about the ring holding the championship belt. It is the nationalist who dogmatically gives their leaders carte blance to do whatever they wish - no matter how inhuman. It is the patriot who cares enough about the nation to alter or to abolish their own government when it becomes destructive to ends that effect the safety and happiness of its citizens (and the innocents of other nations, as the hijackers of September 11th did to us).

Seven years later, we are faced with the choice of who will inherit this once proud nation, that has now come to be rightly seen as a dangerous, lumbering behemoth by the rest of the civilized world. On one hand, we have a man who will perpetuate our presence in the Middle East, exacerbating our military occupation - perhaps extending a campaign we acknowledge to be an engine for new terrorists, into other countries. John Mccain now emulates Barack Obama's campaign of change, even though he has voted 95% of the time with the Bush Administration, which has amassed more national debt than all past presidents combined...

...all the while increasing taxes on the middle to lower classes and absolving the wealthy of such burdens.

In short, John McCain is assuring us that he and the Republican party, which used its six years of exclusive control of the United States Government to bring us to the point we are at, are the only ones who are able to unmake the monster they have created - even as their chosen representative promises to continue Bush's economic and military policies, along with virtually all others.

Even if we are such a nation of idiots, I'd like to think that we are not a nation of dispassionate machines, incapable of seeing that a greater terrorist threat, continuation of economic policies that have the dollar paling in comparison to other currency, and a slaughter of the innocent so harrowing as to dwarf the deaths of September 11th into obscurity, are not what we ever wanted.

You may say that you are not culpable for what our government has done. Maybe not - but if you are of voting age, you stand culpable for what they will do over the next four years. One of the greatest aspects of our democracy is that we have the power to hold our leaders accountable for their past discretions - but that power is meaningless unless we exercise it by staying informed enough to know when we are being lied to, and know when people have been piloting our nation towards less-than-noble ends.

Forget epithets such as "liberal" or "conservative", and let's all converge on the fact that we found the bloodshed of September 11th so detestable that it will forever be branded into our collective conscience. Let us all decide now, at this very moment, to stop becoming the monster we purport to face.

Even if Barack Obama cannot undo all the damage, he will not continue along the same path that has resulted in our current predicament. Not only is he well educated, with at least a collection of well laid out, well researched ideas on how to stop the bleeding, he is the best we can do right now. If you still vividly recall the day that changed out lives forever, don't let it make you forget the damage we inflicted on ourselves afterward - and don't forget who held the knife for last seven years.