Unlike today’s students being preyed upon by military recruiters counting on manufactured patriotism — patriotism on steroids since the unfortunate events of 9/11 — I was there. No, not in NYC, or Washington DC, or even in Maine where one of the alleged masterminds of the alleged takedown of the twin towers in lower Manhattan boarded his first plane.
I was in California, on my way to work, with a preteen child in the car — one whose sense of security was demolished on Sep. 11, 2001.
A few years later I was back in Maine trying to count the flags that had sprung up everywhere (too many to count in a car traveling 45 mph).
Some things are best understood in retrospect.
That nearly 3,000 “Americans” (27 were actually foreign nationals) died in the World Trade Center was a fact repeated as often as the videos of both towers collapsing. Oh, and WTC Building 7 which collapsed 8 hours later. This magnitude of death was the pretext for going to war on Afghanistan which allegedly harbored the Saudi masterminds of the terrorist attack. Except it was Pakistan doing the harboring. But they have nuclear weapons, don’t they?
The main things that 9/11 provided were an enormous spectacle to justify the endlessly profitable wars of imperial expansion for the U.S., sometimes doing business as NATO. (If you wonder what NATO is doing in Australia since that’s about as far from North Atlantic as you can get, maybe read blogger Caitlin Johnstone.)
The other signficant thing that 9/11 provided cover for was the 300 page so-called Patriot Act which gutted constitutional rights of citizens and terrorists alike. Swiftly gutted them, and created the Department of Homeland Security and created ICE — both of which we had gotten along without prior to 9/11.
A lot of torture happened after 9/11. No, not the torture of being an Afghan or Pakistani child trying to sleep while surveillance robots droned overhead 24/7 waiting to unleash their Hellfire missiles on your home. Torture in secret prisons and in the gulag known as Guantánamo which is on Cuba’s territory without their consent.
Torture that resulted in persecution of torture whistleblowers.
Torture of Chelsea Manning for refusing to reveal how she shared evidence of U.S. war crimes.
Torture of Julian Assange for sharing evidence of U.S. and allied forces’ war crimes and dirty financial dealings.
Almost torture of Edward Snowden for revealing the spying that digital technology and security state overreach have made ubiquitous. He lives in exile in Moscow now, with his young family, still trying to warn us about how to protect ourselves from the “security” state.
9/11 was used to justify war on Iraq via lies that Saddam Hussein had something to do with it.
9/11 was used to drive fossil fuel consumption and thus climate crisis.
9/11 was used to justify war on people in Syria. And Yemen. And Somalia.
9/11 was used to consolidate U.S. government support of Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians.
9/11 was used to produce a lot of canned curriculum that teachers are told they must use to inform kids that are not upset about 9/11.
Becuase they were not even born when it happened.
And really, how much should they care about 9/11? Their young lives have been upended by a public health disaster of far greater proportions, still rampaging out of control. This time the heroes they’re encouraged to worship aren’t in firefighter or military uniforms, they’re in scrubs and PPE.
What will this much larger disaster be used for?