Each of us probably has those “where we were when” memories about the events of the morning of September 11, 2001. The passage of 14 years has not eased the impact of those horrible events for me.
No one could have foreseen, in those early post-9/11 days and months, just what that day eventually would mean for the United States of America and for the world.
Four years ago, writing on the anniversary of 9/11, I asked the question: “Osama bin Laden is dead, but did he die victorious?” The answer can be found in a Latin phrase: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. If you seek his monument, look around.
When Osama bin Laden used crashing airplanes as mass murder weapons, he took much more from America than the lives of more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens and residents.
Writing in The Nation, Tom Engelhardt provides a depressing catalog, concluding that the so-called “War on Terror” has accomplished everything bin Laden hoped it would, and more. He says correctly that al-Qaida goaded us into doing what it had neither the resources nor the ability to do. His estimate of our lost freedoms is well worth reviewing.
Within a matter of days, if not hours, after 9/11, eager American politicians adopted fear as their ugly theme, repeatedly justifying the sacrifice of our constitutional rights and liberties as the price of alleged safety.
The centerpiece of their opportunistic politics is the grotesquely named Patriot Act, which has destroyed personal and financial privacy, rendering meaningless much of the Bill of Rights we have honored for the last 224 years.
Yet most Americans have been all too willing or complacent, seeking that illusive security without regard for the cost in terms of lost freedom and liberties.
Not to Have Died in Vain
The events of 9/11 led the U.S. government into a questionable war in Afghanistan and a costly debacle in Iraq that now has sown chaos in the entire Middle East. These events have cost thousands of lives, produced mass suffering and most recently, waves of desperate, fleeing refugees.
Reconsider President Abraham Lincoln’s closing words in his Gettysburg Address: “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Dear reader, that free, representative government Lincoln championed, and for which over a million Americans have died in all our wars, has indeed perished. Our leaders have sacrificed the very principles that they claim to defend. Fourteen years later, it is possible to think of 9/11, as Engelhardt says, as “a mass grave into which significant aspects of American life as we knew it have been shoveled.”
The inimitable Oscar Wilde wrote: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
Fourteen years after 9/11, thoughtful Americans have every reason to conclude their “leaders” have learned nothing from the experience we and the world have been made to suffer.
Yours for liberty,
Bob Bauman JD
Chairman, Freedom Alliance