Everyone remembers what they were doing when they learned of the most devastating attack in our history and how they felt in the days that followed. When people are murdered some say their spirit does not rest. It stays earthbound and cries out for justice. I’ve never really believed that but going down to the visit the sight of the worst terrorist attack in our history – maybe it was the ash that still lingered in the air, the portion of a building that hadn’t yet come all the way down, maybe it was because I knew what had happened but I could just feel people had died there and died horribly. In that in that moment their deaths became terribly real to me, and I won’t even forget it.
We were attacked without provocation and without cause. It was a cowardly attack on American civilians perpetrated by terrorists because a sick ideology that exploited their poverty, their faith, and their prejudices. Terrorists who are willing to brainwash even little children.
Being new to the city, I suffered only the general anger and grief, but for so many others the loss was much, much more personal. A friend of mine lost her father. Other friends who worked in the World Trade Center lost nearly all their co-workers. People they’d known for years. Many felt lucky to have survived. I remember hearing anecdotes about people who were never, ever late for work but due to some fluke occurence.. they missed their normal train. My mom remembered that I’d applied for a job in the restaurant at the top of the WTC and rejoiced I hadn’t gotten it. The switchboards in the building I live in were overloaded that day as with everywhere else in the city and we swapped stories about unexpected people who had suddenly called to make sure we were alive.
It was also today 8 years ago, that the New York Times ran its story on Obama’s friend and long time associate, Bill Ayers. He said he didn’t regret his acts of terrorism and wishes he’d done more. A few days after that Obama’s pastor quoted Obama’s early role model, Malcolm X in saying “America’s chickens have come home to roost”. Today it especially saddens me that he is our President and that as our President he sees fit to release terrorists and to possibly prosecute men who acted to protect their country following orders that were completely legal at the time.
The question arises “How did this happen?” and I’m not sure I know the answer. We had a young President, one who saw his clear duty was to protect our country but who wasn’t prepared for anything like 9/11. He took bold and decisive action and wasn’t too concerned with explaining the need for it or engaging a lot of public debate before hand. The PATRIOT ACT was passed without being read and many- including myself- were alarmed at the expanded government powers. Kierkegaard wrote something like that “when a greater fear is present, the lesser fear disappears” and I think this was/is true for many who had concerns about the Bush Administration. They became so terrified at how Bush might presumably abuse his power that the threat of terrorism ceased to be real. I met a Ron Paul supporter actually said “Al Qaeda doesn’t exist”.
Ironically, for me, it was being around anti-war types that first got me thinking maybe we did need to invade Iraq (I was on the fence about it the day we invaded and still don’t have a firm opinion about whether that was the right decision – though the question is now academic) but others went right down the road to crazy town. Perhaps it is difficult for people to balance/consider differing priorities because we so often fear or want one thing so much more than another.
I hope this diary doesn’t come off as argumentative or anything. It isn’t meant to be. It is today, very much just a diary – an attempt to process my thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11.