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Thread: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

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    Default What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    I have on my calendar a repeating reminder for a moment of silence, marking the time when the Twin Towers fell (yes, I know they fell a half hour apart). I remember the events of the day as if they were yesterday. I can't even look at the images without the same anger welling up in me.

    But I also remember how we, the collective "we" of the US of A, came together after the attack.

    And I see how divided we've become, in just 16 short years, and I wonder... What happened?
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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    I think the coming together was a made for TV special. I didn't feel it. I saw an oncoming power grab and everyone told me to shut the f&*k up.
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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    The coming together was manufactured to create a war, which profited a small number at the expense of many. It was, and is, still being used to keep folks in a state of fear so they may be easily be manipulated. It is a sad day for those we lost in the event. It is a sadder day for the blood and treasure lost subsequently with no end in sight.
    Guy Washburn

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Guy Washburn

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    The notion of American exceptionalism.

    A quotation from The Leviathan came to mind sixteen years ago: there's no man so big that a smaller man with a little bit of cunning can't bring him down.
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Quote Originally Posted by guido View Post
    The coming together was manufactured to create a war, which profited a small number at the expense of many. It was, and is, still being used to keep folks in a state of fear so they may be easily be manipulated. It is a sad day for those we lost in the event. It is a sadder day for the blood and treasure lost subsequently with no end in sight.
    ^^Gets it. And like Viet Nam, the larger nation seems to forget, if ever it really thought about it, that far and away most of the blood was of indigenous folks that had and have nothing to do with any of it. The loss of our own people was of course a tragedy but the death and destruction we heaped on other nations and peoples was of far greater magnitude. Calling it collateral damage doesn't make it acceptable and saying it's about democracy is BS. Near as I can tell we've learned nothing and don't have the slightest inkling that we ought to look in the mirror, or through the eyes, cultures and experiences of others.

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    We've stopped thinking for ourselves and allowed others to think for us. Many opinions are just parrotings of what media corporations, large personalities and so-called politicians feed us. We can do better, on all sides.

    • Travel, sometimes outside our comfort zone
    • Meet other people and learn about their cultures
    • Look at your country and heritage from a new viewpoint and perspective
    • Learn about the "opposition's" perspective and try to understand why they feel the way they do. They might not actually be opponents.........
    • Don't assume we are always right or best. We might be. But we might just be different, and not better.


    This is 30 seconds of typing and if I learned anything from my parents this is probably it. Learn to think, consider, question and reflect. Don't just learn to repeat what others tell us. This would be a failed education.
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    The coming together, rather than coalescing around a hard look at how we engage with the world, was a reactionary pushback against an indefinite enemy with an indefinite war that spans the globe for whatever interest it happens to suit at the time. We've killed and maimed a generation, fomented far more extremists in the world, and continue to -- as others mentioned -- spill blood and spend money in far flung corners of the Earth.

    Oh and we probably won't even get to the trial of the mastermind behind it in an improvised court on a military base on foreign land until 2019 at the earliest.

    We came together and did, in my view, all the wrong sorts of things in response.
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Quote Originally Posted by David Tollefson View Post
    ... What happened?
    We never came together. It was temporary, "tug at the heartstrings/put a flag on your car" stuff.

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    weird. my first view of the thread was truncated to "what has happened to us" (or maybe I read too fast) and I thought, yeah, how has the salon evolved as of late? and getting in before the lock, should it appear, I have to say after reading the first few replies I have renewed faith in VS (in spite of losing swoop).....

    to the well-expressed ideas above, I thought of a book that many of you should know, Benedict Anderson's _Imagined Communities_ because it has reached the point of created communities (for media consumption fed by geo-political imbedded interests) for which there is an entire industry. heck, it is the only industry in the great scheme of things. (pretending that may make sense to one of you)

    Imagined Communities, verso books


    also forgotten is how many foreign nationals died 9/11 and how we squandered the empathy of the world in subsequent actions by the administration of the time. now I'm reminded of a Joni song I only discovered fairly late (having cut my teeth on Hejira in the 80s). pure nasal tree-hugging joni, a cappella. not the best introduction to her corpus, but sadly prescient; or rather sadly repetitive. those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, right?

     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    and maybe I'm a bit sensitive to this issue at the moment in the wake of 2 super hurricanes that have been dealt with in starkly better manner than when New Orleans got hit, and so far I haven't heard any discussion of "why should we rebuild Houston (Miami, Jacksonville, Christ, Long Island, insert your tribe's headquarters)?" crap. we come together when it suits us, and when the shit gets real, we may even come together simply out of humanitarianism. but our taxes pay to send those Hurricane Hunter flights into the eye, and the Coast Guard choppers.... and it is all caught on video "to share" if we're lucky (that is basically the thesis in Imagined Communities, before the idea of social media and social media communities existed; same as it ever was). rant/ramble over
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    I feel like many of the comments here are taking unfair advantage of the clarity hindsight provides.

    Granted, it wasn't a coming together by loving each other and finding ways to be productive through celebrating and working through our differences... it was coming together to be really pissed off at someone else. Like the brothers who always fight and dislike each other but will team up to clobber anyone outside the family who makes a disparaging remark.

    But even outside of the USA, our cause was thought to be just and our purpose clear. There was a spark of something that was triggered by an attack on the ideas and principles that inspired people to fight for their liberty within our borders and beyond. I don't think the way many people thought was false or engineered; that they would be tested and emerge stronger with wills forged by the hatred of others to defend the principles of liberty.

    It just turns out that defending righteous principles is hard, and we simply weren't tested to the extent we imagined, with a vast majority of the country scarcely threatened.

    So, I think what happened to us is that a single fact was proven: terrorism works. Bin Laden and AlQeada got everything they wanted in the end (see Peter Bergen's writing, who was and I think still is the only western journalist to have a face to face interview with Bin Laden). I don't think David's question has a simple answer, or deserves the dismissive "never happened for real" it's currently getting.
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    I was teaching at the time. I had a class to lead that afternoon (I was in Phoenix AZ.) It was a crazy experience. I had 100% attendance that day. All of my students wanted me to tell them what was happening, but that's not really my job as a teacher. So I got my students to tell me what was happening, what they were worried about, and how they felt. Not a single person in that class wanted revenge at that moment. All of them were tremendously saddened by the loss of life in the towers, and the ability to imagine what it must have been like to be trapped in a tall building without any chance of escape was so visceral, so real at that point, everyone wanted to talk about what they would do in their last moments. But at the end, the students pressed me to participate. So I said, I hope that this incident is not used as an excuse to reduce or even eliminate individual freedoms under the guise of making this country safer. I hope that liberty is not traded for life and the pursuit of happiness. And I hope this doesn't cause a war.

    I'm not a brilliant person. And I know a lot of people who knew what was going to happen - we'd seen it before and just like doping in cycling, all the same people were involved in government at that time who were involved in government the last time. Among the people I know, there was a sense of sliding inevitability. That whatever we feared on that day was eventually going to come true. For me, there was never a coming together. Shortly thereafter, the Patriot Act appeared, we entered Afghanistan and anyone who objected was classified as being un-American, hating freedom and siding with the terrorists. I think a lot of people have forgotten how toxic the environment was for anyone who objected to government policy during 2002. I even have friends who remember protesting and writing letters to congressmen, things that they never did and protests that never happened because they were saying things like "Well, I think we really need to trust the President on this. He has access to intelligence information that you or I will never see....." One of my friends was even a first amendment scholar! He said we may all need to sacrifice certain rights in order to be safe - the government has no malice - all rights will return when things are safer. What I realized then was there were people I counted as friends who could not be trusted if ever a truly oppressive government came to power in the US under the right circumstances.

    I had the opportunity, along with my friend David, to corner the editor of the New Yorker, Jonathan Remnick, in an elevator and challenge him on what he said and his complicity in helping the government make its case to New Yorker readers for invading Iraq, and his only response was "Who could have known the President was lying?" We did! It wasn't hard to figure out. Evaluate the evidence! But when we explained that to people, no one wanted to hear what we had to say. Everyone had given up on being advocates for rational thinking. They were all making career choices while suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and siding with the captors of rhetoric who had swiftly and smoothly out maneuvered them.

    It was like standing on the shore and watching a bunch of people try to save a sinking ship by poking holes in the bottom. I've never felt less a part of this country than during the period between Sept. 2001 and the election of Barack Obama. The statement that "I also remember how we, the collective "we" of the US of A, came together after the attack" just reaffirms that separation for me.
    Last edited by j44ke; 1 Week Ago at 09:34 AM.
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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    ^^I agree.

    Ray
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Jorn, spot on. I knew Judy Miller's piece was hogwash.

    The question is, where do we go from here?
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    and his only response was "Who could have known the President was lying?" We did! It wasn't hard to figure out. Evaluate the evidence! But when we explained that to people, no one wanted to hear what we had to say. Everyone had given up on being advocates for rational thinking.
    What evidence (and how was it obtained) were you evaluating at the time?
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Quote Originally Posted by sine View Post
    What evidence (and how was it obtained) were you evaluating at the time?
    could maybe start here, about mid way down...
    Iraq and weapons of mass destruction - Wikipedia
     

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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Quote Originally Posted by sine View Post
    What evidence (and how was it obtained) were you evaluating at the time?
    I was reading every newspaper of record I could get my hands on, both US and Europe. I was reading and listening to all the official statements being made by the governments, both US and Britain. Colin Powell's presentation of evidence was a real clincher for me. All of it was circumstantial evidence. None of it was on the ground, in the hand or verifiable by any standard. There wasn't a single news agency that could provide any factual evidence to back any of it up, and they were digging like mad to be the first paper to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction. What a scoop that would be! But even though they kept coming up with bupkis, their editorial boards kept arguing that we needed to take it on faith that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, etc. blah blah blah. I didn't have any sort of privileged access to inside information. Just all the same stuff everyone else could find if they actually opened up the paper and asked a few questions. None of the supposed evidence held water. None of it stood up to close scrutiny. A handful of questions in and pieces began to flake off. Like I said, I am not brilliant, just skeptical by nature. But when smart people who I knew as constitutional scholars started saying things like, "Well of course there's actual no proof - it's classified, so you just have to take it on faith that the President is telling the truth" I knew it really didn't matter what I thought or how many reservations I had. It was a done deal.
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    Default Re: What has happened to us? 9/11, sixteen years on...

    Jorn,
    I think the dissonance for me here is when you say "But when we explained that to people, no one wanted to hear what we had to say. Everyone had given up on being advocates for rational thinking." and then you see our (decidedly biased, self selected sample) friends here all saying with likes and comments "Yeah, I totally felt that way too!!!" something doesn't add up. I don't doubt there were strong feelings of dread by some, but to read the narrative in this thread, it seems to attempt to tell the story of "well, smart people always really knew what was going on" which is not at all how I remember things. I also think it's odd that people seem to connect Sept 11th and Iraq way more than Afghanistan...

    And my memory could be significantly affected by my bias here. My wife (CA ANG) was deployed to PSAB outside of Riyadh in 2000, 4 years after the Khobar towers were bombed and during the attack on the USS Cole. It absolutely tore her up that all she could do was pack a bag and be ready for a call that would never come. And while the support from the sidelines of society may have been superficial, it sure felt different than before when it was essentially non-existent.

    As far as 2001/2002 being toxic for those who objected to government... I think people who have really been paying attention knew that the patriot act only slightly pushed forward and consolidated what was on the books for years. FISA created their secret courts in 1978. CALEA was 1994 (I have the t-shrit). AEDPA was 1996.
     

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