Everybody in America--well, not literally everybody, but millions--are getting wrapped up in memorials today for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon that occurred on this date 10 years ago. Thousands of innocent people died. Some of them were Muslims who were not the terrorists in the planes. The victims were all colors, all ages, all religions. The pain of their passing still grips the hearts of us all. Prayers for all of their lives.
But that horrible event ten years ago also marked the beginning of this country's descent into a strange kind of madness. In the ensuing ten years, we Americans have willingly allowed a total transformation of our country. What used to be a place of liberty has become a place of fear, a place . Americans have given over fistfuls of their precious civil liberties; we have allowed creation of a massive, secret bureaucracy that not only gathers information on all of us, all the time, but operates out of oversight by anyone. (The Frontline program "Top Secret America" reports on this development. If it doesn't scare the crap out of you, it's simply a measure of how far you've bought into the government's rationale for depriving us of our liberties and establishing a fearsome, gargantuan police power that didn't exist ten years ago.) All in the name of protecting us from terrorists, which is ultimately a futile task. What powers are we going to hand over to the government when we're subjected to another attack? And guess what, brothers and sisters? This octopus isn't going to go away. It will never go away. Liberties once surrendered are gone forever.
We have willingly allowed our government to engage in torturing people, we have allowed American citizens to be held without charge for days, weeks, on end. We have, in the name fighting terrorism, launched two wars that still continue. They have ignited a conflagration in the Mid-East, they have snuffed out the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi lives, wreaked untold destruction of property, cost us a trillion dollars, and thousands of American lives dead and wrecked from wounds of body and spirit.
This anniversary will be commemorated all over the country with flags, mournful music and speeches, black crepe . . . but there won't be any mourning for the country that we once were that has been buried under a mountain of fear. We may have killed bin Laden, but he is triumphant from his grave. We are in the grip of terror, we've lost our senses because of it. This is exactly what he wanted to accomplish. And he's succeeded beyond his wildest imagination.