Never forget what? September 11th is a ridiculous day to “never forget” – especially in a campaign against terrorism, because it’s probably the single largest terrorist victory to ever occur against the United States. Rather than “never forget”, perhaps it’s a good time to sit back and look what we’ve apparently learned from that day:
- You can be a hero by being in the wrong place at the wrong time and dying without doing anything. I’ve heard it many times said there were “2749 heroes lost”. It’s a lot of meaningless garbage that cheapens the few instances of true heroism on that day. Someone sitting in an office getting hit by a plane isn’t a “hero”. They are just unlucky innocent victims of a battle that no one still understands particularly well. I for one turn scorn on the abject abuse of that word and mourn the few dozen heroes of that day that are lost among the 2700 or so who were just unlucky.
- Americans (and probably everyone else in the world too) are weak and afraid. They are so afraid they’ll go out in masses to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting for no logical reason. They’ll drive their children to work to avoid snipers when the chance of being shot by a sniper is lower than the chance of being killed in the car. They’ll drive places rather than fly when an aircraft is still safer per passenger-mile than a car. They’ll panic at the smallest thing on an airplane, even when someone owns up to it with a perfectly good explanation. They’ll vastly overstate the impact of terrorism when you have about the same chance of getting hit with a meteor than getting killed by a terrorist.
- The government likes people scared. They are more pliable that way and give it more power.
- Ideology, belief and zealotry aren’t enough to win over oppressed people, especially when you go into a fight without a good idea of what it means to win, let alone how you’ll get there and how you’ll get out again once you are there. Hint: “Stay the course” is not a plan, it’s a political platitude.
- Ideology, belief and zealotry are enough to win over your own people though, especially when your political opponents are so disorganized that they couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery.
- Ideology, belief and zealotry are sufficient to convince leaders that despite the contradictions of the only democracies in the middle east being the ones furthest away from America’s political goals, attempting to force more democracies on people that care more about food, water and electricity than politics is a goal worth spending tens of thousands of dollars from each and every American taxpayer on even though it’s never worked before.
- Truth and Justice are the “American Way”, except when things get a difficult. Then it switches over to assumptions, inquisitions, witch-hunts and state-sponsored disappearances.
America’s reaction over the last five years is depressing. This is a nation that is flailing about like a dog stung on the tail by a bee, trying to catch whatever is causing the pain and end it. This is a nation where the major political parties are so busy trying to convince people that each can protect the voters so much more than the other that neither has the chance to step back and ask exactly what is protection and what is oppression. This is a nation that has lost it’s way and has no one to guide it back.
On the bright side, democratic nations sit in a relatively stable equilibrium. Things do eventually right themselves as people start to wonder what they really were thinking. Freedoms given up during blind panic are slowly won back by those brave enough to stand up for them. It takes decades, but it does come good eventually.
So, what should be never forgotten on September 11th? Nothing. September 11th is nothing special beyond a temporary victory for a terrorist group that isn’t even well supported by America’s enemies. It’s a day that one day I hope America will forget. That one day the self-pity, the fearmongering and the overreactions will end and people will wake on a September 11th and all I’ll have to think is that it’s the birthday of my best man at my wedding, and not the day America temporarily lost itself.