“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear, kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.” (Gen. Douglas MacArthur)
BURNET, Texas (Sept. 7) – As we approach the tenth anniversary of one of the most devastating events in American history, we will be inundated with a mind-numbing around-the-clock media coverage of the event. We will be flooded with a rehash of the events of that tragic day, hear countless stories about heroes, be subjected, once again, to endless analysis from “experts” about why this attack occurred, and listen to political leaders pontificate on the meaning of the tragedy in memorial services, newspapers and on radio and television. We will see the tragic events over and over again just as they were captured that day when people all over the world sat in front of their televisions and watched the horror as the twin towers came tumbling down.
None of these stories will be as revealing as the one recounted to me by a friend, both of whose parents served in the military. She once told me that she “grew up” in the VFW, spending hours at VFW posts listening to old soldiers tell their war stories. Every event and every story, she recalled, ended with the toast “may we be the last.” For many years, she never understood what that meant. Eventually she asked, and learned that the toast expressed the hope they they’d be the last veterans of the last war.
Sadly, that hope is still a long way from fulfillment. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11 we will probably hear the claim that “everything changed” that day. In reality, nothing has changed. The president, Congress and our political leadership used the familiar combination of lies, deceit, and manipulation of fear to stir up an unreasonable, unthinking, unquestioning orgy of patriotism to justify entangling our nation in yet another fruitless, endless war. And now, a decade after 9/11, we are no closer to “winning” the so-called War on Terror then we were when the first U.S. soldiers set foot in Afghanistan, an impoverished little country that has been a bloody battlefield for decades, on Oct. 7, 2001. Not content to invade and occupy one nation, the warmongers who control our government deemed it necessary to invade and occupy a second nation, Iraq, and expand the war to include attacking targets in any other nation, including supposed allies like Pakistan.
As I wrote a few months after the attack, two tragedies occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. The first and most horrific was the murder of thousands of innocents, including Americans and foreigners. But the second tragedy of 9/11 was more subtle, much more devastating, and continues even today. By killing only a few thousand people, and aided by the ignorance and opportunism of our political leaders who reacted to the attack like vindictive children, the terrorists achieved exactly what the set out to do. They were able to send untold millions into such a panic that they have turned their backs on the very things this great country was founded and built upon.
The far worse terror we now face as a nation is the State’s manipulation of the effects of fear deliberately induced and exaggerated to cause citizens to willingly sacrifice their liberty before the great god Security. The two most noble victims buried beneath the tons of stone and steel that once was the World Trade Center are those precious American siblings — Liberty and Freedom. Rather than responding to this attack the way Americans usually have responded to adversity – by picking themselves up, marshaling their courage and resources, and building a better, stronger nation, our political and military leaders choose to exploit 9/11 in order to increase and strengthen their own power, turning America into a nation of quivering victims.
If America’s leaders had really wanted to send a message that our nation could not be cowered by terrorism, we would have rebuilt the World Trade Center within a very few years, even higher and bigger than before. Instead, the reconstruction turned into a spectacle of squabbling special interests, with competing “victim” groups claiming a right to dictate what was done on the hallowed ground. To our shame, those who profess to be our political, civic and military leaders choose the low road, putting self-interest, self-aggrandizement and their own power first, rather than the founding principles of our nation.
Our supposed rulers want us to be afraid, to be victims, because people who are afraid are easier to manage, eager to hear someone tell them they will be taken care of, and more willing to comply with government edicts without question. Every person who willingly acquiesces to even the seemingly small and harmless limits on the freedom in the vain quest for safety hands the terrorists another victory. They are ideal citizens in the eyes of despots and tyrants.
America must shake off the pallor of victimization and stop being afraid. The most dangerous threat to our freedom, unfortunately, is not some delusional, fanatical terrorist. It is not a religion, nor is it any nation. The most dangerous threat to our freedom is allowing the fear of the world to blind us to the terror we face at home, from those who use lies, deceit, and fear, who seize unconstitutional power and claim immoral authority under the pretense of protecting us from harm. On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attack, it is time to tell our pretended leaders that ten years of fear is enough. It is time we stand up united and say – enough is enough! We are a free people and we will not be ruled by fear.