Next Tuesday will be the 14th anniversary of the piece I wrote below. It used to appear on my web site, but I’ve since redesigned the site and removed the section. Still, the piece should be available somewhere, so I am reproducing it here.
Back then, I predicted there would be terrible consequences to our actions if we didn’t choose wisely, and I was right. We are, whether we admit it or not, in a state of continual panic and fear, thanks to the actions of our own government.
We send our bombs and people to other shores in the hopes that somehow, these actions will make the world a safer place. We fight against ISIL, we turn away refugees, we track our own actions in libraries, on the Internet, over the phone, as we drive. Cameras are everywhere.
We are constantly reminded to be vigilant, wary, concerned when people who don’t look like us interact with us. And we are armed to the teeth, in the fear that something will happen on our own turf, that will be as bad as we’ve made it for people elsewhere.
We asked for this.
It is our fault.
We elected officials who put the Patriot Act in place, and proclaim that our flag is better than any other flag, and yet we can’t feed our people. We drive on roads that are damaged by years of neglect, and celebrate those who take lives because our country has pointed fingers and said we must do unto others BEFORE they do unto us.
It is right and proper to remember the lives lost when the towers fell. It is right to remember those who served and helped the survivors. And it is proper to mourn those changes in our society.
But to me, the phrase “Never Forget” means so much more than four airplanes and their hijackers, and those in the buildings and surrounding areas who went to work or got on the planes with the expectation that they would return home again at the end of the day or the end of the trip.
“Never Forget” also means we should remember that our country was and should still be a refuge for people who had no other place to go, who sought peace from prosecution. It should be a home for all, a haven for anyone seeking a better life. And it should be a place where we all have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labors, in peace and prosperity.
Citizens United, the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, Right to Work: These are all symbols of oppression, put in place by the Grand Old Party. These Republican oppressors, waving the flag and carrying the Christian Bible, many of whom cater to neo-Fascist organizations disguised as conservative think tanks, want us to maintain a constant state of war because THEY profit from it. And as long as we remain too distracted by fear, they can get away with murder.
Somalia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Syria, Iraq…it doesn’t matter where they were born. They all want the same things our parents and grandparents want: Somewhere safe to raise a family and to make a place in this world for themselves. We do every immigrant, every refugee a disservice every time we return these people to the hell from which they came.
The very definition of Refugee comes from an organization built on the ashes of World War II:
The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees has adopted the following term “refugee” to apply to any person who (in Article 1.A.2):
“owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
And these same so-called Patriots would love nothing better than to see the US pull out of the United Nations because they disagree with the policies and protections set forth there. They want us to go to war with Iran. These hypocrites could have stopped North Korea before the acquisition of nuclear weapons, but they didn’t care enough, because there isn’t enough profit in dismantling North Korea’s arsenal.
With Iran, it’s different. They are protecting their oil interests and are throwing our country away for the sake of their own greed. They have hoodwinked hard-working Americans into thinking they give a rat’s ass about their base. Even with proof of the contempt these billionaires hold for their base, they STILL manage to hold onto their positions in Congress and will do whatever they can to win the Presidency in 2016.
You have a choice. You can choose to remember this day, fourteen years ago, as a rallying cry against people who want to destroy our country and look across the ocean to other continents as the source, or you can remember who put these people in business in the first place and hold THEM accountable in the coming election. 2016 is everything.
Iran-Contra Affair: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Contra_affair
The Shah of Iran: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi
Iran-Iraq War: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq_War
Saddam Hussein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein
The Syrian Civil War: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War
September 11, 2001
Saturday, September 15, 2001
On a day that started with excitement about my own little world, the world was witness to an unbelievable tragedy.
It started so simply for me: A phone call from a mother to tell a father about his daughter’s new teeth, and to have a morning chat with him about trivialities.
How it will end is anyone’s guess. There are so many variables, so many possibilities, so vast a sense of loss, anger and shock about the events of the 11th of September, that it is impossible to predict how the landscape of the world will look even a month from now.
On September 10th, this was not the case.
On September 11th, at 8am EDT, this was not the case.
Right up to the point where the first commercial airplane impacted the first World Trade Center building, this was not the case.
We Americans have been comfortable in our ability to simply flit from place to place. There have been vague feelings of concern for the increasingly deadly military actions of other countries, but at such an incomprehensible distance that they were simply not of personal concern to most of us. We have been able to focus on things that now seem trivial and small in comparison.
Seeing the World Trade Center district in the aftermath of this most amazingly evil of atrocities, it’s hard not to think of Beirut, of Bosnia, or even of London 50 years ago.
But not Manhattan.
Not New York.
We are now faced with a task which I am not sure is possible to accomplish, at a cost I don’t know if we are prepared to pay.
Until now, the realities of the last World War belonged to the old folks. Those who preceded the “Baby Boomer” generation who are fading fast from age or disease. There are not many people left who can remember what this world was like during the last World War. Not so many who remember Korea, for that matter.
The newer wars, Vietnam and Desert Storm, were different. With all the odds against us, we could never have won in Vietnam. Desert Storm taught us that the next World War must be different. In the wake of the responses to this ongoing tragedy, by all accounts, this war could be different from anything we have ever seen, and could ever imagine, even in the most cynical eye of Science Fiction authors. And yet, it could resemble these actions in so many awful ways. It could even resemble the Crusades, if we are not careful.
There are those who do not understand why we have not already leveled Kabul. There are those who believe that to be a Muslim means that you are automatically a terrorist. There are those who feel that this act is justified because our country condones and backs the actions of the Israelis, and that to be Jewish means that you automatically support Israel’s actions against the Palestinians.
These people are all guilty of oversimplification.
To be sure, those responsible have it coming. I don’t dispute that one bit.
But we have bombed Iraq almost continually since Desert Storm began, and yet Saddam Hussein remains in power.
We bombed Afghanistan after the last action linked directly to Osama bin Laden, and yet he continues to be the source of great pain and suffering.
The President of the United States said, “This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.” I fear that he may be wrong.
If we move without first being absolutely sure of our targets, we will disrupt the alliances we seem to have forged against the perpetrators of this horrible act. It does us no good to anger the people who have united with us, simply to slake the thirst of those who want blood now. Striking out blindly at targets that are not accurate, and doing no harm to the ones who deserve it most, makes us look foolish and incompetent. This we cannot afford to do.
And while I say that I do not want to explain to my daughter why her father did not come home, I do not want the deeds of September 11th to go unpunished. I cannot in good conscience tell my husband that he must stay here. If he is called, as I am certain he will be, I must support him in any way I can.
But I say now, I will only feel good about making that sacrifice if the result is certain, appropriate and final.
So, I ask the President, the Congress, and the world to be sure that their actions are the right ones. Be careful about what you are doing, because what you could unleash may be much worse than what has already been done, as incomprehensible as that might be right now.
And, when you have decided, move swiftly, so that we can be sure that we do not miss the targets, and so our loved ones can come home.