So, it’s been seven years. It feels like it’s been decades since my high school classmates and I crowded around a library computer and watched as the second WTC tower was hit on live TV. I remember the sharp gasps of my teachers and the whispers of, “oh my god, this is the beginning of a war.”
That attack set off a chain of events that have not only changed American political culture for the worse, but continue to reverberate in violent events throughout the world —in dictator’s “War on Terror” justifications for crushing political opposition, mature liberal democracies’ excuses for running programs of enforced disappearances and torture, extremists espoused reasons for murdering journalists and aid workers, and so much else.
And the body-count keeps rising, with no end in sight, just more spilled blood and tears. If this “War on Terror” is really a war, it’s a war that can’t be won by anyone.
Yesterday, Ezra Klein wrote:
September 10th, 2008. Two ongoing wars, an economic crisis so deep as to spur government takeovers of huge banks, and a presidential election pitting two sharply different governance philosophies against each other. And the lead story on the news is lipstick on a pig.
The country is full of bumper stickers that say “9/11: Never Forget.” We have forgotten. And we have forgotten gleefully, aggressively. It’s not that we don’t remember the day, or have lost our appetite to cynically deploy it in service of our political agendas. But we certainly forgot the new and unsettling sense that the world was a dangerous place populated by serious threats. Problems that had once seemed abstract were all too real. But now the dangers are abstract again. A presidential election grinds on, and one side merrily chants “drill baby drill!” Every time I hear it, I wonder how we’ll be judged in 60 years.
My answer: not kindly.