Sunday, September 11, 2011

You can't fight terror with fear

Never Forget

That’s what appears on lots of the 9/11 commemoration merchandise, and will probably be seen more these days than it was earlier, because, like all historical events, memories of it will fade as time passes.

The way the first responders charged into those buildings to save the lives of the people inside, without even considering the danger to themselves, this is something that should never be forgotten. Aboard Flight 93, the passengers sacrificed themselves to prevent the much greater disaster that would certainly have occurred had they allowed the hijackers to remain in control. These people are heroes.

There are things about the events of 9/11/01 that I wish that we would be able to forget as a nation. Remember that whole “United We Stand” theme that held most of the country, and even the world, together for about 24hours or so? We had sympathy and support around the world from practically everybody but Al Qaeda itself. The post-shock reaction was the desire to kill Osama Bin Laden by any means necessary. It's a normal human reaction.

It wasn't long before the "united" part of it became a bunches of like-minded people united against other groups of people. It became US and THEM, Patriot or Terrorist, which one are you? President Bush, addressing to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001 actually said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."This dark period in American history has shown us descending into a pit of hatred, prejudice, bigotry, intolerance, racism, and fear - allowing these elements of our culture (which have been there all but below the surface, as it had been really frowned upon to express openly) to rise up again and proudly show their ugly heads.

There was an excellent news story on NPR last week that you can access at the links below:
Under Suspicion at the Mall of America
Mall Counter-terrorism files ID mostly minorities
Database of Suspicious Activity

It is about private counter-terrorism programs that are working together with law enforcement, the FBI, and the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). It sounds very well-intentioned and harmless on the surface, but it has been learned that permanent damage can be and has been done to innocent people through this program. This report is in two parts (text and audio), and I recommend the audio because there is more in it and much of it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

This focuses on the implementation of this kind of program at the Mall of America in Minnesota, where regular, untrained citizens have been empowered to report what they see as “suspicious” activities, and as a result, many innocent people who have broken no laws (or even mall rules!) (and this is according to the authorities) are ending up with permanent incident files with the FBI and DHS. A disproportionate number of these reports are about people of color. One man was walking around and filming in the mall, making a video to send to his fiancée in another country. Taking photographs or videos could be viewed as suspicious. So can “acting nervous” when questioned as another person was doing. I think that we should all be nervous over this kind of thing.

When I was growing up, there was hardly anything more frightening than the prospect of a totalitarian regime, where you can be arrested or hauled away on a whim. The false accusation of any other person was accepted as reason enough to lock you up and throw away the key. Mass paranoia of the kind we had during the Cold War and now have again Post-9/11 is dangerous and toxic - "terror" is what terrorists want to create, because it's fear itself that will break us down, turn us against each other, and become willing to give up our freedom for what is perceived to be "security."

Many people falsely believe that those who have done nothing wrong should have nothing to fear from this kind of program. That is naïve!! They need to look closer to see what the real enemy is. The existence of these programs is letting the terrorists win. The Bushies like to say that terrorists hate our freedom. If we love our freedom, then why surrender it because of fear? Isn't this why we fight? For freedom?

Don't shove an American flag in my face because you want me to remember 9/11. The people who attacked us were religious zealots, true believers, theocrats. There is nothing more dangerous on the earth. I wish we could observe the day by being tolerant toward fellow humans, to live and let live. And we really need to to be trowing bags of money and plenty of love toward first responders - the people who selflessly charge into harm's way to save the lives of others - without thinking once about the ethnicity, political leanings, or religious beliefs of the ones being rescued and protected.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

The Canadian government has declared Sept 11th to be a National Day of Service when people should help others in memory of those who died on 9/11.

Connie, Orlando said...

So did Obama & Rush Limbaugh called it a socialist idea. I agree, Blueberry, 9/11 has made HATE okay. While I am sad for the families of the victims in the towers, I'm ashamed of our countries treatment - or lack there of - of both the first responders and the injured military returning home. Those are the people we should remember EVERY DAY!

Professor Chaos said...

It wasn't 9/11 that changed everything. It was our stupid over-reaction to 9/11 that changed everything. (by "our" I mean America in general, not present company.)