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9/11 Became an Excuse

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As I write this on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones on this date in 2001. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for them to face this date each year, with memories of their loved ones fading farther and farther into the past.

And my thoughts wander to how this country's leadership responded -- not with revenge on the attackers, at least not for very long, but rather through revenge on a then-unarmed country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

And then I become angry.

Because 9/11 became an excuse.

We started out on the right foot. We invaded Afghanistan, where the Taliban had allegedly been supporting al-Qaeda, and where Osama bin Laden was supposedly hiding out. We took down the Taliban. And we had Osama cornered at Tora Bora. All good. So what did we do next?

We took our eye off the ball and changed our game plan.

We let bin Laden escape.

And, for reasons that all turned out to be lies, we diverted our troops to Iraq, where we've so far lost 4,155 (and counting).

So now Osama bin Forgotten remains on the loose, where he pops up from time to time to thumb his nose at us in a video. Neener-neener-neener.

Way to go, George W.

But that's just the beginning. The Bush administration was on a roll, so they continued to use 9/11 as an excuse.

They used 9/11 as an excuse to use racial profiling and other forms of discrimination against Muslims and Middle Eastern people. Guilty until proven innocent.

They used 9/11 as an excuse to detain terror suspects indefinitely without charge and without legal recourse. Guilty until proven innocent.

They used 9/11 as an excuse to curtail the civil rights of U.S. citizens. Probably guilty until proven innocent.

And they used 9/11 as an excuse to torture. Guilty or not.

And all the while they tell us that it's for our own good, our own protection, our own safety. After all, the terrorists hate our freedoms. Be afraid.

I am so tired of the politics of fear and lying. And when it's done in the name of 9/11, it dishonors those who lost their lives in the attacks.

And finally I wonder what I'll be writing next year on this anniversary. What will the "war on terror" look like under the next administration?

It will certainly be very different depending on who wins the White House this November.

We'll either have a continuation of the arrogant politics of fear and aggression, or else we'll have a new foreign policy based on a strong-yet-fair system of international diplomatic engagement and cooperation.

The choice is ours.


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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