On Sept. 12 18 years ago I was in a line at the local office of the Red Cross in Centerville, Virginia, waiting to give blood in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The line was long and silent. Ordinary Americans, most in a state of shock, wanting to do something, anything to help our fellow countrymen. Americans do this in times of great danger.
Earlier that day, I had driven by the Pentagon. The nearby roads had not yet been blocked off yet, and I saw the gaping hole, still smoking and being inundated by multiple fire hoses.
Now, 18 years since, we have a president who was tweeting about inviting the Taliban, the group that gave Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorists welcome in Afghanistan, into our nation, to Camp David scant days before Sept. 11.
We have witnessed the North Carolina GOP use the occasion of a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to override a governor’s veto without any debate from the Democratic side, as they were attending the memorial service.
We saw a speaker in New York, while giving a speech commemorating the victims and asking us to “never forget,” use his moment in the spotlight to attack sitting members of Congress who dare to speak out while being non-white, non-male, and non-Christian. Apparently “never forget” means “never forget to hate” to some.
It is dismaying to observe the levels of hatred so deeply ingrained in America. We seem to have learned nothing during our two hundred forty three years of existence.
The ideal of “freedom and justice for all” rings hollow today.
The ideal of “love thy neighbor” has become “hate thy neighbor, love thy bullets.”
Today we put children in cages, so that some of the most wealthy among us can reap obscene profits from the suffering.
Today we are a nation that is turning away people seeking shelter from disasters, both natural and man made, for the sole purpose of turning this nation into a fascist police state.
Today it is eighteen years since the day after the most heinous attack upon the United States of America, perpetuated by a well financed international cabal of criminals exploiting religious zealotry.
The leaders of the cabal have been hunted down, killed or captured. The religious zealotry they exploited has continued unabated in every faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu.
It seems unlikely that this particular genie, like the racism, xenophobia and misogyny so apparent in America today, will go back into the bottle. Not today, not tomorrow, likely not ever.
We humans have been a war-like species from the beginning of time.
Hatred and nationalism, fear and distrust of “them” are the hallmark, the calling card, the very definition of what is means to be human.
It remains to be seen if we will survive our own worst instincts.