Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Own 9/11 (& Deja Vu, Fog of War)

(Especially in light of President Obama's big announcement on Isis last night, I figured now's a good time to rerun this piece from September 11, 2011. I'll have more on the President's plan to take on Isis later today.)

September 11, 2001, is a day I can't forget... Even though it was a day that seemed to start like so many others had. While I was getting ready for school, America's beating economic heart and central political nervous system were under attack. And as I was starting what I just thought would be my second day of high school, my entire outlook on life would forever change.

That morning, I woke up as just another Orange County kid attending just another conservative Christian fundamentalist private school. In the following weeks, I would be relegated as "extreme" as that crazy "anti-American" extremist, Barbara Lee. Why? Well, I agree(d) with her.

It was my first experience of expressing dissent, and of paying the price for holding an unpopular point of view. In the immediate days following 9/11, there was a sense of national unity. And while it was helpful in many ways, on the other hand it allowed for the Bush Administration to embark on policy prescriptions that we would later learn to be quite harmful to our country. It was easy to go with the masses and cheer on "retaliation" against the "evildoers". It most definitely wasn't easy to point out what would happen once Congress gave George Bush a blank check to engage in endless war.

I was just trying to make sense of everything that was happening all around me... And it just wasn't making sense. Even as everyone else around me kept beating the drums for war more loudly, I kept wondering why we were doing this. My teachers and my own mother were asking why I sympathized with "terrorists". Other students just saw me as "the liberal weirdo". Nothing seemed to make sense then...

But it all comes together now.

Fast forward ten years, and now Rep. Barbara Lee's words ring more prescient and true than ever before. We're mired in multiple wars abroad, yet we supposedly can't afford to create jobs for the unemployed here at home. Nearly ten years after the USA (Un)PATRIOT(ic) Act passed, Americans are now asking where their freedom went. And now that memories of a nation so proudly patriotic seem so distant, Congress has reached a new low in unpopularity as seemingly anything and everything is being questioned.

In many ways, it feels like the tables have turned. Back then, I felt so alone in opposing what seemed so American as apple pie. But now, I'm trying to explain how things work to the very same people who are now losing faith in the entire American experiment. It can be sad to watch, but I can't lose hope that our people will recognize what needs to be done to restore our democracy.

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