Nostalgic media reports today on the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the dissections and recollections are too numbing to intake. What have we Americans learned in six years since 9/11? Exactly nothing new.
1. The US government--the President, congress, and by extrapolation, American voters--continue military occupation of Iraq with a huge force of soldiers and ongoing murder and mayhem of those soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians.
2. Non-Muslim Americans are increasingly bigoted and suspicious of their fellow Americans--Muslims--because of the irrational association of their ethnic and religious backgrounds with the 19 killers who caused the deaths on 9/11/07.
3. Americans are afraid of terrorist attacks--this fear is pandered to by the media, and exploited for the sake of civil-liberty-restrictive laws by the government.
These three items prove that the education of the public based on events and their aftermath, with respect to 9/11/07, is non-existent and perhaps wilfully so on the part of both the media and the government.
1. Very simply, the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a means to quash events such as 9/11 was and is a complete waste of money and lives. Repeatedly we Americans have been assured by all facets and factions of the media and government that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with, and was not responsible, for events caused by the Bin-Laden headed group of Al Qaeda.
US presence in Iraq is a throwback to the colonial ambitions of the British Empire of the 19th century, which if it were effective, would have brought cheap gas to the US voter--which has not happened. Instead, US military presence in Iraq has brought ruination on the effectiveness of American foreign policy through diplomacy world wide, as well as untold injury and death to thousands of Americans and Iraqis.
2. Americans enjoy a bigoted society. NIMBY, the acronym for "Not in my back yard," has become so well known it is part of a George Carlin joke. Its meaning runs on several levels--I like [whatever ethnic-religious group] but I don't want one of that [whatever ethnic-religious group] living in my neighborhood.
There is nothing new about this bigotry--since the events of 9/11 and the association of the perpetrators with the religion of Islam, the old Joe McCarthy red-baiting cry of fear of communism and "guilt by association" has made the understanding of Muslim Americans totally murky.
19 hooligans, associated with Islam, hijacking planes and killing thousands of people in New York--those were 19 of a larger group of maybe a few hundred in a world of over 1 billion people who follow the religion of Islam. Yet the word I hear on the street from the average American is the same knee-jerk reaction as from a white guy running into an black guy on a dark street corner at night--fear and danger--regardless of the black guy's character, background or intent. Prejudice runs in the blood, not the brain.
The lesson of 9/11 should be one of tolerance and understanding--why are so many people in the world upset with American presence and policy? Instead, Americans learned that not only are African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics a problem, now so are Middle-Eastern-looking people. And you don't have to be white to be prejudiced: there's a stereotype for any group. And if you're not a member of that group, chances are you put the label on them anyway--Mexicans are lazy, African Americans are criminals, and Asians don't know how to drive. And Jews are cheap.
3. Everyone's afraid of being killed by a terrorist act. I am really happy to close with this non-lesson-learned from 9/11, because it really is the envelop for the other two items.
It doesn't take much to disabuse the reader of this irrational attitude--statistics can be "bent" to serve a purpose, but in this case the facts are overwhelming: [from Sixwise.com]
A poll in Conde Nast Traveler in February 2003 found that one-third of respondents feared a terrorist attack. What are your real odds of dying this way? Historically speaking, it's a one in 9.3 million chance--which is a slightly greater risk than you have of dying in an avalanche.
Media efforts to "sell newspapers," or get TV ratings, or just to keep a presence in your face, are what shapes our societal point of view, and therefore how we react to situations, even how we vote and who winds up in charge of our government.
So in the case of us all remaining ignorant, pliant, and sheep to be led by any kind of tyrannical despot with delusions of personal glory and grandeur--or cash for that matter--beyond our wildest dreams of public service and representation, we're keeping our part of the agreement.
Trouble is, we really need to get off our asses and cry "foul!" That is the lesson learned from 9/11!