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Reflections Ten Years After the Twin Towers September 8, 2011

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.
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Uffish Thoughts: Reflections Ten Years After the Twin Towers

By Dan Davidson

September 5, 2011

– 1050 words –

Whitehorse Star

They say there are certain moments in life that everyone can remember. It’s quite likely that everyone who was at least a teenager can recall exactly what they were doing when the airplanes hit the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

I was almost a month into course work during my sabbatical year from teaching, but that day I was scheduled to drive my son to Whitehorse so he could catch a plane to link up with his Katimavik group and begin an eight-month stint with them in Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia.

I woke up to the radio news, as usual, but this was news that sent me scrambling out of bed and downstairs to watch events I could hardly believe I was hearing. At that point it was just one plane and one tower, and most of us were still thinking it was a tragic accident, but then the second plane homed in and we knew it wasn’t.

Later we learned that 19 men, mostly from Saudi Arabia, had been legally in the US for some time and that no one in the American intelligence community or at their flight school thought it odd that when they had taken flying lessons they weren’t interested in how to land a plane.

Air traffic was disrupted around the world, including in Whitehorse, as has been so ably shown in Max Fraser’s documentary, “Never Happen Here – The Whitehorse 9/11 Story”. Canada harboured many American citizens who were unable to go home, and the thanks we got is that many Americans in high places with low IQs believe to this day that the hijackers got into their country through ours.

I don’t want to be dismissive of the 3000 people who died in New York that day, nor of the those who perished at the Pentagon or went down when the passengers prevented the fourth plane from reaching its target, but 911 did way more damage to the world than that relative handful of lives, and I think a decade later is a good time to count some of the cost.

It may sound flippant to say that one of the worst things was that the world got another four years of George Bush as president of the United States, but he and his cabal caused so many other problems (some of which we are still experiencing in an economic way) that it’s impossible not to mention it.

The least important thing is probably the paperwork that we now have to carry to get on a plane. Never mind crossing borders, it’s got to the point where the simplest way to fly across Canada is to carry your passport.

Americans got the Dept of Homeland Security, and most of them can tell you what a nightmare that has become. When Andrew Jackson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” he was talking about the need for the people to keep a close eye on those who govern them, not on each other. In fact, Jackson didn’t write it the way it is usually quoted, as I did above.

The original runs, “But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.  It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.”

That puts a very different slant on things.

The various intelligence agencies in the world would have us believe that there hasn’t been another attack quite like 911 because we have been making the body and personal effects scanner manufacturing companies so rich but, remember, these are the same people that could not find Osama Bin Laden for nine years and told us with straight faces that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Also remember that both the Sneaker Bomber and the Underwear Bomber were not captured by airport security, or because of intelligence gathering. Both were taken down by the passengers and flight crews of the planes they were on, just as that fourth jet was prevented from carrying out its deadly mission by its passengers.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the number of people who have been killed in what have turned out to be failed military exercises in both Afghanistan and Iraq during the last nine years. Without the complete and utter waste of time, money and lives in Iraq, it might have been possible to accomplish something lasting in Afghanistan, but most of the pundits seem to think it will devolve into tribal warfare once we’re completely gone.

What else did we get out of 911? Well, we got the Truthers, those conspiracy theorists who have so little faith in their elected officials that they continue to be convinced the Bush administration engineered and covered up the destruction of the Twin Towers by means of a controlled demolition.

Then, since the election of President Obama, we have the Birthers, who will not give up on the idea that their president is an illegal alien and Muslim sympathizer who has not the legal right to be in the White House. They are occasionally joined by the likes of Glen Beck (whom even Fox News eventually let go) and Donald Trump (who seems to think he can pull that Apprentice gag in the real world).

Finally, in these days when the rich get richer and the rest of us don’t, we have the deluded members of the Tea Party, who don’t know enough about their own history to realize that they are no more of a grassroots movement than were the folks who tossed the tea in Boston Harbour in 1773. They would rather have their government go bankrupt than to have the rich pay a bit more in taxes.

All these things are the legacy of 911. The world did change somewhat, but the new normal was not an improvement on the old and, as Bruce Cockburn once put it in a prescient bit of songwriting, “the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.”

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