Anniversaries are strange things for me. As a New Ager I find the very concept of time kind of fictional and arbitrary, but usually anniversaries are happy occasions to remember that which we should be deliriously happy about and recall all we are grateful for…anniversaries of terrible events however don’t make as much sense to me. As in the case of parents who every year go to the place their child died and leave flowers (not the place they’re buried, the place they died…because theoretically we’re leaving the flowers for the dead so let’s leave it at the literal site of the most pain they ever experienced…yeah, that’s psychologically healthy). Grief is a natural process, and an important part of loss, but after grief comes acceptance, and not moving into acceptance is a serious sign of psychological unbalance and in some ways dishonoring the dead by not getting on with your life. However this is 9/11 this is more than just the death of a close loved one, this is the single largest attack on America ever, just ignoring this would be disrespectful, but if anniversaries of terrible events are for anything they are for looking at what we have learned, how we have changed (preferably for the better), and most importantly what do we still need to do to make sure this never happens again.
So what have we learned?
Well, we learned that contrary to Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 “The End of History and the Last Man” we have yet to reach the end of history. At the fall of the Soviet Union Fukuyama predicted that this was the essentially the final moment before all humanity progressed into Classically Liberal Western Democracies and that what existed remained of history would be small wars and conversion of every remaining country into a liberal democracy. 9/11 shattered that belief. However unlike most I don’t think that Fukuyama’s original thesis is wrong. I think we are on the brink of universal democratic-republics, but that we pushed tyranny into a corner and we are witnessing it’s last violent death throes in the form of Islamofascism/China/North Korea/a few Latin American dictatorships that haven’t got the message that Marxism doesn’t work/the radical left. Total political freedom is so close that those who oppose it are like cornered wounded animals, desperate, violent, irrational and at their most dangerous…and it is only if we do not have the courage to push through this last obstacle and break the neck of tyranny and tyrants once and for all that could jeopardize seeing tyranny become something that exists only in books on history and political theory. (To be honest, right now best case scenario I will never see that world, but I think my grandchildren—if I ever have any—would like live to see it, so it you want a guess on time there it is).
We have learned that there is still evil in the world. Or at least we should have. Anyone who denies that Islamofascism is a problem and does need to be wiped from this Earth is deluding themselves. A disturbing portion of the world’s Muslims are advocating pure evil (not that the Westboro Baptists and various other zealots don’t also need to go too). We may need to be at war with all of Islam, but we NEED to be at war with Islamofascism (in fact we NEED to be at war with all forms of tyranny); It is a belief system that denies reason, denies the value of human life, denies liberty, denies knowledge, truth, justice, honor, virtue, and praises only the mindless submission to ignorance and cruelty. Islamofascism may be only one of a few forms of this degenerate philosophy (Communism, Nazism, Anti-Semitism, racism, and a few others included), but if we aren’t at war with this belief system, then we stand for nothing. If you can’t declare war on unadulterated evil, what is the point of good?
We learned that government can still do nothing right.
Remember when it took 410 days to build the Empire State Building? Granted the new world trade center is a bit bigger…but have we even broken ground on this project? Shouldn’t this have been shovel ready project number 1 for the Obama administration? I mean if we’re going to spend shitloads of money on construction, even I’ll get behind putting up a giant F-U to bastards that attacked us in the New York skyline for the whole world to see is better than most of the stuff we spend money on. Yet nothing has been done.
We learned that even when doing the right thing (invading tyrannies like Iraq and Afghanistan) government can’t be trusted to come up with even the semblance of a plan that works. However, since letting that pot simmer on its own for 10 years is what gave us the mess of 9/11, not doing anything at all is still not an option. We need to do the right thing for the right reasons in the right way. Afghanistan and Iraq failed on that last point, so two out of three ain’t bad. (As opposed to helping genocidal butchers take over Libya which was the wrong thing for the wrong reasons carried out in entirely the wrong way.)
We learned we need to have plans that go beyond defeating the army of our enemy. Occupations and rebuilding a country after it has been recently attacked and under the heel of a tyrant for years, perhaps decades, is a long, expensive, and difficult process. It needs detailed plans with lots of contingencies for multiple possibilities. Bush apparently thought that we would show up and democracy would magically appear (and I’ll be honest up until about the 5th year of the occupation I thought we had a plan it just was taking time to take form…you would think with all the money we give to think tanks we would have plans in a drawer somewhere and what we need to do if we need to invaded ______ country, with options going from Abkhazia to Zimbabwe…with plans even for the tiny countries that live in their own little universe like Vatican City, Lichtenstein, and California…how wrong I was).
We learned that government doesn’t do security better. I’ve yet to have it explained to me why we didn’t just roll everything into the FBI and the Department of Justice, why did we need to create the Department of Homeland Security (Homeland, by the way, is still the single dumbest name for a federal department I have ever heard of).
We’ve learned that as much as I used to like and trust police and give them the benefit of the doubt, it seems all over the country they’re becoming little Brownshirt wannabes with whatever extra powers they’ve been given. For instance, where did cops get the idea that they can’t be videotaped? This is just one of many problems of increased misuse of police power over the last few years…not that we didn’t have theft, drug running, murder, illegal immigration, terrorism, IRS agents and other various crimes to worry about.
We’ve learned that more security doesn’t equal better security…after all, we feel safer knowing that the bright eyed and bushy tailed high school graduates (most of them anyway) of the TSA are providing a higher level of security by taking lewd pictures of us followed by getting to third base….don’t we all feel safer? (At least we now know that perverts who can no longer get past the screening to become a teacher or priest will still have a job).
We’ve learned that some people, like Mayor Michael Blumberg, can’t seem to distinguish between insane religion and all religion.
We’ve learned that people can be just utterly classless when choosing where to build their mosque.
We’ve learned that some people will never learn….or at least not in this life time. That’s really sad, but true.
And for all of these flaws I have been pointing out we have learned that there are people of character and personal strength who should be admired and respected. The stories in this category are too numerous to list.
So in your moments of reflection for today don’t forget that if we don’t learn, change, and make the world better that would be a far greater sacrilege to memory of those who needlessly died than not remembering this day.