What have you learned since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago? The mass murder of 2,996 innocent people on American soil forced open my eyes to the Islamic holy war against the West, freedom and modernity. The battle has raged not for years or decades, but for centuries — well before the Crusades began. The indelible sight of workers plunging from the Twin Towers — head first, feet first, solo, hand-in-hand — roused me from slumber. The photos of children incinerated on United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 77 compelled me to start paying attention to the beliefs, goals, language and lies of those who would gladly kill my children the same way. The United Airlines Flight 93 hijackers’ final exclamation as they drove the plane into the ground is a Muslim warrior leitmotif I will never again ignore: “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”
So what have I learned since 9.11? Well, I’ve learned that there are an astounding number of people willing to use that terrible agenda to promote hatred, anger, and their own twisted political agenda. I’ve learned that there are those willing to preach hatred against any person or group who doesn’t think, look, act, or believe as they do. I’ve learned that intolerance, ignorance, and zealotry are more than merely bad ideas; they’re the holy trinity of those currently in power. I’ve learned that one can be branded as unpatriotic and un-American simply for questioning the dominant ideology/theology.
Along the way, I’ve also learned that most Americans are sheep. I hate to be so blunt, y’all, but it’s true. Most Americans simply cannot be bothered to WAKE UP AND SMELL THE CAT LITTER. Most Americans are content simply being told what to think and how to vote. They’re content being scared by their leaders, who have a vested interest in sowing fear and uncertainty. No one wants to change horses in the middle of an Apocalypse, and the propagandists who populate this Administration have discovered what a powerful tool that fear can be.
I’ve learned that former Nazi Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels was right: repeat a lie often enough and with enough conviction and it will eventually become accepted as the truth. That the Big Lie theory has nothing at all to do with the truth is beside the point. Truth is the property of those pulling the levers of power, and if those folks are willing to do so with bad intent…well, we end up with Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader.
I’ve learned that Americans are willing to countenance any and all manner of hate-filled voices, because doing so somehow justifies their already long- and deeply-held prejudices. How else can you explain the likes of Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, ad nauseum, ad infinitum?
I’ve learned that, in our fear of “letting the terrorists win”, we have in fact already allowed the terrorists to win. How else would you explain things like the USA PATRIOT ACT, Total Information Awareness, domestic spying programs, pulling people off airplanes because they’re wearing a t-shirt featuring Arabic script, or justifying the war in Iraq as fighting the war on terror- when we created the very terrorist threat we’re fighting in Iraq?
Yes, I would agree that our post-9.11 world is of necessity a much different place. It’s not that we’re any less safe than we were prior to 9.11; we were simply forcibly exposed to the reality that we are not universally loved. There are those zealots out there would would kill us simply for who we are and what we believe. That’s nothing new; this reality existed before 9.11. We now realize what can happen if we are insufficiently vigilant.
Over the past five years, I’ve learned that what some define as vigilance is code for marginalizing and degrading those who do not share the dominant ideology/theology. There are those who would willingly acquiesce to treating every Muslim as a potential terrorist until they prove otherwise. Why? Well, because it’s easier when the terrorists don’t look like us.