ruins of 9/11 by Elvert Barnes
It's been twelve years since 9/11 occurred, cutting away at the naÃ¯ve trust that was a baseline of our system and replacing it with fear, including Islamophobia. I've gotten used to airport ordeals, new forms of hatred, conspiracy theories and greedily grabbed for that life preserver, hope, offered to us by Barack Obama during campaign 2008.
Is it any coincidence that 9/11 occurred soon after G. W. Bush took office? What darkness he had already cast over society. How glumly the twenty-first century commenced once the president born in Hope, Arkansas stepped down, warning of the threat posed by Al Qaeda and recommending that it be prioritized instead of thrown to the bottom of the barrel, as it was by the ascending administration. Al Qaeda became an issue for the new administration at the beginning of September 2001, around the time that the visiting Mexican president Vicente Fox was treated to a nocturnal fireworks display that woke up disgruntled residents of Georgetown, among others. Scarcely a week later the whole world was paralyzed by 9/11.
"Attack on America," the first reference to that holocaust, wasn't catchy enough for the press, so 9/11, a reference to the numbers we dial for emergency, took over and stuck. "Attack" referenced what had happened. 9/11 warned of its results as the Earth sank and we all struggled for balance.
I joined the conspiracy theorists. There were just too many coincidences coalescing on that hideous day.
Most authorities agree that since 1998 members of the Carlyle Group and other hawks wanted to invade Iraq and, at the least, seized upon 9/11 as a window of opportunity for their goal.
But first came the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Two years later, founded on a transparent heap of lies, the Iraq invasion followed. The Iraq war was ended with the country still in shambles and the president promises that all troops will be removed from Afghanistan, locus of this country's longest war in history, by next year.
And so, with the Syria crisis looming, I couldn't help but reflect on my theory that our economy depends on war and another one was needed to keep our weapons industry afloat. Then Vladimir Putin, of all people, rescued our Nobel Peace prize laureate with a solution that I hope will stick: remove all chemical WMD from Syria, pretext for the next war that may not happen.
So what happens next? What will we fear next? Where's the red line? Right here. We are so educationally challenged compared to other developed countries. Beggars of every description line our streets while the money goes overseas to fight useless wars.
We can keep our huge military as teeth if need be, and continue to research new ways to destroy the world, and still have billions left over to be spent at home for a change if we abstain from war. All that funding devoured by NSA could be put to far better use. All that wealth spent on multiple residences in fashionable resorts could instead go far to improve things for everybody, something that the one percent can't get through their damaged brains. The countries that fare the best in this world boast thriving middle classes and often free higher education. They tax and spend.
After 9/11 we feared going to events that involved crowded space. I still feel 9/11's shadow each time I board public transportation or a plane. Extremist threats target sites abroad, but I inhabit one of 9/11's two targets, Washington, DC. We also learned from 9/11 that no one anywhere is safe. The happiest people, according to a recent study, inhabit Scandinavia and Switzerland--how can they be so happy, the Scands, when they are forced to spend at least half of each year in the dark, freezing to death? Because they've avoided war?
Switzerland, consistently neutral, is really safe as the terrorists' piggy bank, people say. I was just there and experienced the joy of safety and exquisite otherworldliness.
Despite hijackings, we felt that safe, I recall, before 9/11. It was a joyous, cloudless day. Lower Manhattan was its usual milling jumble of middle-class routines bathed in early-morning, cloudless sunlight.
I remember that black smoke being sucked into that azure sky that wouldn't cloud. I remember being phoned by my daughter, a sophomore at Columbia, asking what she should do. Her boyfriend stood atop a building somewhere between West 30th and 40th Streets watching the holocaust, people choosing death by falling scores of stories to violent collisions with cement, over burning alive.
Who really stood to gain from 9/11? Al Qaeda? Bin Laden? The Carlyle Group that included one of bin Laden's relatives?