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EDITORIAL | Lots to Remember: 9/11; Complacent people make for great subjects, not great citizens

By The Editorial Board

On September 11th, 2001 the world changed in a myriad of horrific ways, and we would do well to remember all of them.

First and foremost we should remember all of those folks lost on that fateful day. More than 2,800 members of American society died in ugly, painful ways, leaving behind grieving families who even now, more than two decades later, can’t help but run through the terror and pain their loved ones went through.

Some of those folks were just plane passengers, heading off to L.A. on business, connecting for a flight to Hawaii on vacation, or heading home after a journey. In moments they became pawns in a socio-political religious war, riding on a missile on its way to strike more unsuspecting folks easing into their workday in New York City and D.C.

On Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was apparently brought down as the passengers, made aware of the fate of the other hijacked planes, rose up and fought the hijackers.

One immediate and necessary change was in airport security. No more could folks slide smoothly through security with their shampoo and nail clippers. The hijackers had used small box cutting blades to murder the flight crews, exposing a vulnerability of which no one had taken note.

Other changes weren’t so beneficial.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the FBI, formerly the federal law enforcement agency for stateside national law violations, retooled itself as a quasi-intelligence agency.

President George W. Bush lobbied for new laws for “homeland security” and, as is often the case, a scared, reacting nation signed on for them… resulting in less liberty for the people and more power for the government. Of course, in the years since, those new powers have been abused by the government, using these newfound powers to go after citizens in ways they could not before.

And, of course, politics became the fuel at the federal agencies, and many folks were attacked for the “crime” of disagreeing with whoever is in charge at these agencies.

This is not good. When we give an agency a badge, the power to arrest people, and the ability to kill folks in the course of performing their duties, there is no area in which integrity, justice and boundaries must be held sacred. Politics, of course, spoils that.

Memorializing the lost is important, part of the healing process and a way to honor those who, through no fault of their own, became victims.

Remembering the mistakes born from terror and fear, however, is even more important… and it seems to be a lesson we’ve yet to learn.

When Covid-19 hit, the population didn’t look to 9/11 for clues as to where we must beware, and as such, we allowed the government to take ever more power… which always results in less liberty.

If we want to carry the torch of liberty for future generations of Americans, we can’t be ruled by fear, because being ruled by fear is a recipe for acquiescence, and acquiescence is anathema to liberty. A complacent, fearful people make for great subjects… not great citizens.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin famously wrote. It is, however, not really a matter of “deserve,” it's a matter of will/will not have.

We, fearfully reacting to 9/11, allowed our government to go to war with Iraq, willfully gobbling up disinformation from Colin Powell and George Bush without anywhere near the scrutiny such claims deserved, and it cost our nation much in blood and treasure.

The unofficial motto of 9/11 is Never Forget, and we would do well to not only never forget those lost and the heinous acts of that day, but also to add another notion to Never Forget.

That would be “learn.” Remembering has limited value unless we take the hard lessons taught by the that day and the months that followed and put them in our tool box so as to never allow reactionary thinking and fear to lead us willfully down unhealthy roads.



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