Americans are kind of big on commemorations. Symbolic gestures of remembrance. Prayers. Testimonials. Politicians.
Some yearly commemorations, like Labor Day, have very little connection to their original purpose for remembrance. Those who labor, have labored, and particularly, those few still belonging to labor unions are no longer considered worthy of commemorating. There was minimal attention given nationally to, you know, labor, this past Labor Day. Labor has fallen out of favor.
9-11 commemorations, on the other hand, are still popular after 7 years. What is being commemorated, I ask? Those who were killed that fateful day 7 years ago? Yes, at least to a certain degree, 9-11 commemorations are solemn reminders of those who were killed when 19 Islamic extremists hijacked airplanes and ran them into buildings. We also commemorate the heroes of that day...those who served others...always a human attribute worth commemorating.
However....and you just knew there would be a however....9-11 commemorations, often are reminders of unassuaged feelings of national vengeance and anger still remaining even after 7 years. It is this very vengeance and anger that our current administration tapped into in order to mislead us into a war of choice in Iraq, a war of choice whose plans pre-dated 9-11, a war of choice awaiting just the right opportunity. The pre-emptive war of choice we are still involved in in Iraq is a direct result of political exploitation of the vengeance, anger and fear Americans felt after 9-11.
After 9-11, Americans wanted their pounds of flesh. I did too. Those who organized, planned, financed and ordered the deed to be done needed killed. Some were. Osama, Omar, and Zawahiri weren't. Instead, the American administration used those feelings we had of vengeance, anger and fear to motivate us to accept killing Iraqis. At least they were Muslims. At least we were killing someone. Such is the nature of vengeance, anger and fear.
Commemorations of 9-11 have been mostly offensive to me considering how the event, itself, has and is still being used. Just yesterday, a "news" story about Bush focusing on getting Bin Laden was released. The political calculations continue.
We should remember this day the totally childish and entirely useless terror color-coded warning charts. The exploitation of 9-11 gave us that. We should remember the inexcusable ignorance of "duct tape and visqueen". The exploitation of 9-11 gave us that.
What we should remember the most today are the many freedoms and liberties we have been willing to give up since 9-11. What we should remember today are the bogus words of George W. Bush, "they hate us because of our freedoms", and our subsequent handing over of some of those same freedoms, willingly, in order to "feel" safer. We should remember the piece of America we've lost and may never get back.
We saw at the Republican National Convention last week that the political party of the current administration continues to exploit 9-11 for every ounce of fear and vengeance that can be harvested, even after 7 years. Republicans continue to see 9-11 as an opportunity to get more political mileage from their worn out neo-conservative vehicle. As Olbermann stated last night, when it comes to exploiting 9-11, the GOP has no shame.
Finally, and most importantly, remembering 9-11 shouldn't be complete until we ponder what we've lost. Immediately following 9-11, ALL nations were sympathetic to our plight. All nations. That was the greatest world-wide opportunity I've ever witnessed in my almost 60 years. Opportunity for good. Opportunity for progress. Opportunity for world unity. Sadly, that opportunity was wasted, lost. Instead of taking advantage of this one-time historic opportunity to find common ground with the world's nations, our Leaders chose to follow their own political opportunities. We can never go back and recapture that opportunity. America, and the world, are worse off because of it.
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