Revisiting Sept. 11

by Rick Rockwell

September 11th should be a holiday. But here we are working. Trying to get through the day as usual. Failing though. Thoughts keep slipping back. To that day. Six years gone.

One of these years on this miserable day, the media will report some progress. But not this year.

Osama bin Laden is still mocking us from his hideout. He’s tucked in a bunker somewhere in that nether-region known as Waziristan, between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And the most powerful country in the world doesn’t have the will to flush him out.

Meanwhile, one of the most incompetent presidents in U.S. history keeps making excuses. Keeps lying. Keeps covering his tracks with that pathetic little laugh-cough that he hiccups out while trying to be funny in his speeches during these disappointing days.

There is no relief.

The media keep spinning the same stories. Go read what was written here on this day last year. Nothing has changed. The media are complicit in the debacle that is the post-9/11 reality in the United States. Sure, there are exceptions, but in general not enough attention is focused on Afghanistan, Iraq, Katrina, or the other great challenges of our time. People are sick of hearing about them. Make them go away.

Give us instead Brittany, Lindsay, and Paris. Give us diversion. Give us Entertainment Tonight. Give us Hollywood. Give us glitter. Give us something vacuous to stare at like some shiny bauble to hypnotize us so we can forget the pain.

Yes, pain.

How painful has it been to watch the country decline? The U.S. has slid needlessly into some sort of weak polyarchy, as a president mangled the Constitution and for the most part the other branches of government stood silent. All in the name of Sept. 11. Yes, September 11 has become the cover for so many mis-steps, misadventures and misdeeds in the past six years.

Where is the respect Sept. 11 really deserves? Why do we only seemingly pay attention to the Sept. 11 families on this anniversary, instead of the rest of the year? Why has the Sept. 11 Commission been mostly ignored? Why haven’t we implemented its suggestions? When will this country be ready to really fight back?

The excuse has been that in a post-Sept. 11 world, we cannot afford the niceties of civil liberties, of checks and balances, of transparency or of a media system that seeks to serve the public.

But look at what hasn’t changed in that post-Sept. 11 world: we still seek short-term profits in each quarterly report; we still want the stock market flying high; and we still are willing to outsource task after task to corporations with little government oversight. We aren’t willing to sacrifice one quarter of profits in our capitalist society for even a medium-term or long-term gain. That is the definition of short-sighted.

But sacrifice is what it will take to get this nation back on track and to defeat the terrorists. Who says the war on terror must be a generational struggle? At this rate it will be, but if this nation found a real plan it could be over in a few years, at most.

Unfortunately, most of the rhetoric in D.C. and from the campaign trail – despite the amazing amount of presidential candidates – does not inspire. Instead, it is cause for more depression. From this spot in the tunnel, we could very likely be writing the same commentary in six years. That kind of legacy will not honor the 2,973* who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

*The exact death toll remains in dispute and this total does not include some who are still listed as missing.

(The photo of Ground Zero in New York is from the U.S. Army Center of Military History; as the photo is from the U.S. Army it is in the public domain. )

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jess said...

Everything you've written I feel as well. I'm still hopeful that things can change, that it's our nature to improve. But I'm not entirely sure that isn't too idealistic...

Tommy said...

Ron Paul 2008.
I think he's the best hope out there right now.

Anonymous said...

Bush is not one of the most incompetant, he is the most incompetant. His policies are starting to ferment themselves in crisis after crisis around the world.

For example, today there was a run on Northern Bank in the UK. People lined up outside the bank from 7AM today ala 1929 and after losing over £ in deposits the bank is on the verge of collapse.

Subprime loans, in many ways a symbolic representation of the entire Bush administration, its corruption, cronyism and belief that government has no role in controlling Corporate behaviour, are starting to unravel world financial markets.

But Bush's friends in the military and oil businesses have gotten wealthy that is for sure.

it's sad that Bush was able to use September 11 to excellerate his rampage on middle america.

Bush's America has become Pottersville from it's a wonderful life....

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