A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 and History

Today we mark the horrific events of September 11, 2001 when terrorists attacked the United States and changed our outlook on the world forever. For that reason alone, the attacks will always be a part of our national psyche. Unfortunately, there will be other lessons that may fall by the wayside as time goes on.

History is not an exact science; it is left wide open to interpretation. The winners of any conflict usually record it from a specific point of view. The losers, naturally, will see the outcome from a different view. I know I’ve contemplated these ideas before, but this year there is some concern that the 9/11 anniversary will become the victim of event fatigue: many people are tired of hearing about it.

The fatigue is not imaginary; there are some valid reasons for these concerns. For one, the Bush Administration has used the attacks as criteria for many actions, from starting a questionable war to suspending civil liberties. These actions in turn became fodder for all sorts of criticism, debates and late night punch lines. I’m guilty of this myself as I have blogged about the Bush Administration using the attacks to justify their own actions on several occasions. On these occasions, my comments may have been light-hearted, but they should not have been seen as disrespectful to the victims or their families. Any humor derived from the use of the 9/11 events for any purpose other than remembrance and learning historical lessons was intended to be part of the healing process from the shock of the attacks.

Still the lessons that we should learn from 9/11 may be very different from the lessons that will be retained in our collective memory. We should remember that the reasons for the attacks go back centuries to old conflicts that started long before America was founded and will likely outlive all of us. It would be very prudent to take measures to resolve as much of this conflict as we can in our lifetime. Unfortunately, our country has, in the intervening years since the attacks, taken action that aggravated the conflict and perhaps left us open to more violent aggression.

The victim’s families will do everything they can to remember their lost loved ones. Eventually those names and memories will falter and fade away as the survivors die off. It is never mankind’s intention to let this happen, but it does happen given human nature and the peculiarities of the human brain. We have already forgotten to “Remember the Maine” and the Alamo, for that matter. Another example, among many others I could name, is that Veterans Day was originally a holiday to mark the end of World War One. How many of us knew that?

In American public schools, the subject of history has been taught as part dates and events, part civics, and part “Rah, rah! We’re number one!” This is all well in good, but unfortunately it hasn’t always been true. The patriotism part of the teaching would invariably gloss over many issues that should have been addressed. Our genocidal policies towards the Native Americans, and the subjugation of women and minorities are two such issues that immediately leap to my mind. Yes, we do live in a great country, but we must keep in mind that this country is just part of a larger world filled with peoples and cultures that deserve equal respect.

The attacks of 9/11 resulted when members of one of these cultures, feeling that they had a grievance against us, took action that was both desperate and extreme. The people directly responsible for this attack shall be held accountable someday soon, God willing. In the meantime we, as Americans, should seek some common ground between us and the larger God-fearing, law-abiding religious community which these extremists thought they represented. This is the lesson we should learn from 9/11, but I’m afraid that it will once again get lost in the shuffle of everyday living.

So, there’s our challenge, mankind. Please prove me wrong.


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