Different Drummer

We are a changed people

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”—Benjamin Franklin

What was on Monday now 16 years ago, a handful of fanatical thugs flew hijacked American airplanes into American buildings and what both we and rest of the world had always thought of as America almost immediately changed.

There are just entered college freshmen who have no memory of what happened on that fateful day nor any of what this country was before it.

The truly Shakespearean-quality irony of Sept. 11, 2001, what we have come to know as simply 9/11, is that 19 mostly Saudi zealots, armed only with box cutters, accomplished what neither the British Empire, nor the Nazi war machine nor the Soviet Union with its nuclear arsenal    could do. It turned a proud and powerful people into a frightened one.

The United States of America changed on that most awful of days, changed in ways which I often think we no longer even recognize.

Little good often comes from fear and little good has.

Men and women, even the best of them, even the smartest of them, stop thinking when they become afraid. Fear robs men and women of their judgment. Fear robs men and women of their reason.

There has been many an analysis of, much written about 9/11 in the years since. Similarly, there has been much thought and discussion given to the heightened and dueling passions which are seen as separating Americans into virtual warring tribes today on everything from politics to culture to even the way we view one another.

But what if the two are cause and effect?

Suppose that the real legacy of 9/11 is the prevailing fear that even yet abides and even yet is manifested in what we do and don’t do today.

That’s an easy enough notion to dismiss, I suppose, but I also think to do so summarily is to just continue what so much of the contemporary dialogue has degenerated into—whistling past our suddenly uneasy graveyard.

I never thought I would live to see the America that has evolved in the past 16 years. I don’t recognize it because so many of its crucial contours have been eroded away. I sometimes feel myself a stranger in a strange land because so many of the old American landmarks are no longer visible.

Our own fears born on that day that ignited not only buildings but the lasting sense of vulnerability, have done to us what more than 200 years of enemies foreign and domestic could not—begin the ebbing of our essence that so much defined us as a people and lead us to sacrifice it all in the empty name of keeping us safe.

I might not have been able to foresee 2017 America, but George Orwell could and did.

If you have young children, perhaps you should tuck this away somewhere so that they might someday read about the America that used to be, the United States that existed before Sept. 11, 2001.

Before 9/11, the United States was not trillions of dollars in debt and actually had a budget surplus. I know that sounds incredible, but it’s true.

Before 9/11, the United States was not engaged in perpetual warfare on multiple fronts and had not seen thousands of its increasingly children soldiers die or become horribly maimed in combat.

Before 9/11, there was something in this country called habeas corpus, which meant we couldn’t simply keep somebody locked up forever, never charging him nor bringing him before a judge. Really, no kidding. We really did.

Before 9/11, U.S. citizens were free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Believe it or not, the government’s alphabet agencies could not spy upon or collect electronic dossiers on them.

Before 9/11, the very concept of torture was alien and abhorrent to Americans.

We truly did not do such a thing, would not consider doing such a thing, instead of playing semantic games with it, in essence arguing over “what the definition of is, is.”

Before 9/11, we could disagree without hating; we didn’t have to concoct wild conspiracy theories to justify our politics and never once would it occur to us to attack the 1st Amendment.

Little good often comes from fear and little good has.

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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