Dean Barnett writes movingly about his personal experience on 9/11/2001. And
he concludes with this:
IT HAS BECOME A TRITE LAMENT that 9/11 brought us together, and it’s a
shame that since then we’ve come apart. But 9/11 brought us together because
of two transitory emotions – sadness and rage. Once those emotions calmed
down, once our open wounds turned into scars, it was inevitable that our
differences would resurface.
When the flags came out in the aftermath of 9/11, they didn’t signify a
consensus on where we would go from there. They symbolized a consensus that we
were all in pain, all anguished. When the time came to move on, disagreements
inevitably (and not improperly) came regarding exactly how we should move on.
Even though a thorough review of 9/11, including both its lead-up and
aftermath, won’t provide an obvious path forward that everyone will agree on,
there are some valuable lessons we can draw from that awful day. Looking back,
we can clearly see the remorseless murderers that our enemies are – that
knowledge is instructive. And we can also see that they are numerous. That,
too, is important to take into account.
But the most important lesson we can take from 9/11 is this: We must take
every possible step to ensure never again.
Never again will we allow ourselves to feel the way we did that
day. Never again will we be so blind to storm clouds
as they gather. Never again will we choose to believe
comforting lies rather than disquieting truths.
9/11 didn’t bring us together. It’s true that in the immediate
aftermath of the event that we all felt sadness and rage. But not about the same
Some of us felt sadness at the terrible loss of lives in New York and
Washington and Pennsylvania, and rage at the killers.
Others felt sadness at the terrible loss of life amongst those killed by
America and its puppets over the decades, in South America and "Palestine" and Viet Nam, and
rage at the blind self-centered Americans who had stood by without caring.
We were all anguished. Some of us were anguished because we feared that there
might be further and more devastating terrorist attacks against us. Others were
anguished because they feared that this might inspire an entirely new round of
bloody military aggression by America against innocent people around the world, and conversion of America into a police state.
We all saw clearly. But some of us were looking in a different direction.
Some of us clearly saw the remorseless and ruthless murderers behind the attack,
and knew that they were our mortal enemies who would attack us again if they
possibly could, no matter what we did. Others were looking inward, and saw what
they viewed as an ugly need for revenge amongst Americans.
We all vowed never again. Some of us vowed that we would do
whatever it took to make sure that the terrorists didn’t strike us again. Others
vowed that they would do whatever it took to make America stop doing all the
evil things that had inspired the attack in the first place.
The only consensus on 9/11 was that a terrible tragedy had occurred. There
was no consensus as to who was truly responsible. And that is why within
hours we began to hear, "Ask yourselves why they hate you." They knew that
America had brought this onto itself; deep down they knew that we deserved it.
We all knew that reform was needed. Some of us thought it was the
Arab/Islamic world which needed to reform. Others knew, deep down, that America
was the true problem. To try to force reform onto the Arab world would be to
renew the very mistakes which had caused the attack in the first place. And to
even make the attempt would inspire more and more young Arab men to become
terrorists against us, increasing the danger to us.
Some of us felt that the "root cause" of this war was Arab failure, and Arab
shame at their failure. The others knew that the "root cause" was American
failure, and America’s refusal to feel shame at its failure.
We were not united on 9/11 and we have not been united on any day since. But
that is not a weakness. If the people of America are ever 100% united on
anything whatever, I will know that the country I love has died.