by Denis G. Campbell
My son, nearly as tall as I am now, was a toddler 11 years ago today. Sitting on my lap, he was looking at a book and a Dutch NOS News/Talk was on the telly in the background. It was evening in The Netherlands, so politicians and pundits gesticulated wildly at each other. Catching every fifth word or so, I was still in shock. Four hours earlier, and watched live on CNN.com, two buildings I had worked in, no longer existed. My command of Dutch was poor and I did not see the replay clip coming of the second plane again hitting the tower. My son, of course, chose that moment to look up from his book, witnessed the crash and fireball for the first time and quietly said…
Even at 2, his other-than-conscious knew this was something big. For 11 years of his life, the world has known war in Afghanistan and Iraq. That one word had a seeming prophetic impact as the US launched two wars supposedly in the name of those 2,976 Americans who lost their lives that day. We now know it was built on a foundation of lies and no one has ever been held to account.
And on that day we surrendered vital freedoms of speech, assembly and protection from illegal search, seizure and imprisonment as people wrapped themselves in a symbol that somehow made them patriotic. No one was asked by their leaders to sacrifice ANYTHING. Instead they were told to ‘go shopping’ whilst the 10% who did serve came from poorer families. Not one member of Congress had an active duty son or daughter in the military because their privilege allowed them to side-step it.
Chanting U-S-A! and getting teary eyed as a celebrity sang the national anthem, fit every patriotic meme because it was easy to do. God seemed to only bless America and it’s singing was more command than prayer.
Billions were spent on ‘airport security theatre’ whilst America’s trains, buses and seaports to this day only undergo spot checks of cargo containers. So children and the elderly in wheelchairs can be sexually assaulted and felt up by TSA agents and everyone is banned from carrying drinking water or a tube of toothpaste, but a jet-ski operator can ditch his boat and walk across active runways into the terminal at JFK airport in New York City? How thoroughly un-reassuring that all is.
The two wars were financed on the national credit card and entered into on a lie and a dare. Racial and ethnic profiling go on daily in every US International airport. We used to say his crime was DWB – Driving While Black? Now it’s FLM – Flying & Looking Muslim. I am very irritated seeing in every incoming airport in the USA huge rooms where they lead entire families of ethnic, Middle Eastern descent forcing them to sit for hours, miss flight connections and endure humiliating screenings when Al Qaeda has been recruiting people who look like you and me to do their dirty work? It is despicable.
The numbers on this 11th anniversary of 9-11 are terrifying. At what point does the world say enough? We’ve done the faux outrage long enough. In the two wars we’ve lost 6,565 troops and 49,609 have been wounded. In July, 38 former servicemen took their own life via suicide and this story of one soldier who did five tours of duty in Iraq and who now finds himself homeless shows how little those responsible for these wars care about those who fought them.
So when the roll call of the 2,976 dead is read all day, add several more days to remember these people… the troops. Then pause for a few seconds to remember the 48,644 Afghans who had nothing to do with this tragedy yet lost their lives (for those scoring at home, that would be 16.3 disasters like 9-11 in their land) and the 1,690,903 Iraqi people who paid the ultimate price (568 days or 1.5 years of 9-11s). Add into those figures that 47,515 people have been executed by drug cartels in Mexico and that’s a helluva lot of brown skinned people losing lives senselessly… yet no one really cares about them.
You will hear the words ‘never forget’ repeated as a mantra over and over again today. Indeed, never forget. And open your heart to those not as geographically blessed as the USA. You’ve seen two attacks from the outside world in modern times. Pearl Harbour and 9-11. The loss of life was horrific.
You now have dozens of agencies working to keep the nation safe capturing every bit of chatter out there. Would now not be the time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The US needs to do that to see the forest from the trees.
They were inundated with cables and chatter 70 years ago and got so stuck in the weeds no one could step back and see that the Pearl Harbour attack was clearly telegraphed at every level. Instead of defending turf, how about agencies work together to understand the bigger, real picture. Only then will we be able to end these stupid wars once and for all and finally (and soberly) remember the real cost of these wars and 9-11.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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