On September 11, 2001, I was supposed to film a video for a song I wrote called "Pride". It was to be entered in a Tommy Hilfiger contest, of all things, for the best 30 second spot on what Red, White, and Blue meant to you. I bought an American flag the day before and stuck it out from my window sill for the shoot. That morning I got a call from the friend, who was going to make the video, telling me a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. I went down to the Hudson River to see. I watched from across the river as the Towers fell, turning into a spreading cloud of pulverized debris. I remember. I will never forget. It changed me. It changed Us.
The question that has been plaguing me lately is "How have We changed?" The people who perpetrated these heinous attacks (according to the people who weren't so hot on the intelligence before the attacks or in the subsequent wars from their aftermath. I'm not a "truther". I'm just saying'…) The people behind the attacks committed them to kill Americans and destroy a US Financial Center, but there is another reason that they readily admit, to instill fear in Us. Fear is a very powerful thing. I ducked every time a plane went over head for days, got nervous every time I saw someone running down the street. My backpack is still packed and ready by the door. We're so scared we can't bring toothpaste in Our carry on anymore, which now costs extra to help pay for the added security. We were told the "muslim extremists" committed these atrocities because "they hate Our Freedoms", but what has happened to those freedoms since. Our privacy has been destroyed with cameras at every corner, the feds in our bank accounts, emails, and telephone calls. Our willingness to let this happen comes from of Fear. Fear of what "they" might do. More recently there have been calls to do away with, or at the very least bend, freedoms and rights provided for by the United States Constitution. And I am not talking about the Second Amendment. That seems to be one of the few that are firmly in place.
Fear, especially when coupled with despair (of say prolonged unemployment, foreclosure, etc.), can make the irrational seem plausible. Not All Muslims are responsible for what the 19+ people, and their subsequent networks, did on September 11, 2001. The protests of mosques all over the United States, not just in Lower Manhattan, the burning of a Mosque in Tennessee, the stabbing of a New York City Cabbie because he is Muslim, and most recently the plan to burn copies of the Koran by an extremist "pastor" in Florida on September 11, 2009 to somehow "honor" those who died on that day (some of whom were Muslim, of course), show a movement in these United States of America, a country whose first "settlers" were fleeing religious persecution. The First Amendment of Our Constitution ensures Religious Freedom. General David Petraeus, the most famous General since Patton and General currently in charge of the war in Afghanistan, recently said this to the wall street journal about the September 11th holy book burning "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in the interview. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community." He was not alone in his concern or criticism. I guess some people were worried that people will believe, and be made to believe, that the actions of a few are the actions of the many.
My current worry is more about the danger it poses Us as a people, as a Country. Our Freedoms are not always easy to deal with. We should not deny the klan's right to demonstrate, who by the way claim to be a "christian" organization. We should not deny people the right to protest a "mosque" two blocks from the World Trade Center. We should not disallow the burning of the Flag or the Holy Koran, though book burning and Freedom of speech may be at odds. But when actions become violent or incite violence, then I take issue. Where does fanning the flames of hatred based on religion or country of origin or skin color lead, especially when that basis is founded on the actions of such a few. There are around 1.5 Billion people who believe in Islam. By the way, the President is not one of them, and tagging him as one may be getting a bit more dangerous lately.
I understand the anger and the anguish. We still haven't caught or killed "the guy who did this". It's nine years later and they are finally starting to do something with the "hallowed" hole in the ground/transit hub that is the site of the World Trade Center attack. There has been very little closure and a lot of stoking of anger and fear, not to mention profiteering from "9/11". Our Freedoms and Rights are important. It's what we're told Our military fight and die for. We have lost Freedoms since the planes hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, killing 2,819 people. We've become a different people. But in this ongoing war of "hearts and minds", what philosophy is winning? Have more hearts and minds given in to hate and intolerance like that of those who took down the Towers and the fear they've instilled, or have more given in to American values? What were they again?
peace and progress.
Hoboken, NJ USA
"they fill me up with pride
put hope in my eye
wrap 'em around me when I need it warm
they inspire me to exceed the norm
red white and blue
my country, me and you
red white and blue"
"Pride"- Summer of 2001