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The Terrorists Won, in 2001

Today, Sept 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorists attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and killed about 3,000 or so people.  I’m not going to recount my experience of the event, because frankly, I didn’t really have one.  I was about 600 miles away at the time and it didn’t affect me directly.  That’s just simple fact.  It didn’t.

I do remember that at the time I worked at a call center, and I went to work in the afternoon.  In the breakroom they had CNN on (back when it had a reputation), and that was the first time I’d ever seen a grown man cry in public.  I, personally, didn’t have a strong emotional reaction.  Of course I thought it was terrible.  I also just don’t respond to these things like most people.  It’s a fault of mine.  Or a strength, depending on the circumstance.  It does allow me to react dispassionately to a tragedy and take action when needed.

I do remember that immediately following the event, there was a sense of national and world unity like I’ve never seen before or since.  You had a bunch of congressmen standing on the steps of the Capitol singing “God Bless America”.  Though I thought at the time it was an empty gesture for the camera, at least you didn’t see any of them praising the terrorists, which you’d probably see today.  The country was united in purpose – get those terrorists, kill those responsible, don’t let them win.

But they won after all.

It didn’t take long at all for the country to fracture, for us to squander our good will with the world, for us to prioritize security theater over actual security.  Out of that came Homeland Security, a beefed up but utterly ineffectual TSA, a slow but certain reduction of civil liberties in the name of safety from terrorists.  Culminating in a few weeks ago where we allowed the Taliban to take over Afghanistan and immediately the terror attacks started, killing thirteen servicemen.  The terrorists destroyed our sense of security, they destroyed our sense of unity, they destroyed our civil liberties, they destroyed our country – the country we have now is nothing at all like the country we had on Sept. 10, 2001, and they are at least partially responsible for that.

We let the terrorists win.  Sure, Osama Bin Laden died, and a few “Number 2s” died too, but did that really make a difference?  No.  We let them destroy the country from within, we’ve never been the same, and it will only get worse from here.

Remember those who died in 2001.  Absolutely.  Their deaths were tragic and, like all deaths, senseless.  Today is a good day to remember.  But let’s also not forget the lessons we didn’t learn from that day, and it appears, are doomed to be taught again.  Perish the thought, but in that unfortunate event, I hope we actually learn something this time.  I’m not holding my breath.

And let me say this:  any terrorist sympathizer should be immediately removed from Congress, and I include anyone who is downplaying the role that terrorists had in the 2001 attacks.  There is room for much disagreement in congress, but actively wishing harm to our country is over the line.  I can think of four or five congresspeople that should lose their jobs, like, right now.

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