What do we talk about when we talk about 9/11?

By John Kass

The media is awash with stories about where we were 20 years ago, when the terrorists waged holy war against America and hit the Twin Towers in New York, killing thousands.

The Pentagon was hit a short time later. And Todd Beamer on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania was reciting the 23d Psalm and “The Lord’s Prayer” with a telephone operator before gathering other passengers and said to them, “Let’s roll.

The world changed then. It would never be the same. America would never be the same.

Those who are old enough might remember the America that was, once, before fear and rage became the easy levers of politics to herd Americans and drive them away from liberty.

But what of the young?

Do they remember a time when fear and rage and media, (and social media shaming) weren’t the deadly arrows in the American political quiver? Do they remember a time when fear wasn’t used to drive the herds?

 Can kids now in high school remember when life was normal, when they could be kids?

Can 20 somethings remember what it was like before the surveillance state and cameras everywhere?  Do they remember a time without the eye on them, or when the federal government lied about spying on its people?

 Most of them are too young to remember. And for many, their electronic devices mean more to them than liberty itself.

But some of them may tell their children of the new phase we’re in right now, this new medical security state.

It is here, now, imposed by the very same people who once shrieked and screamed about the threat of authoritarianism not too long ago.

Just a year or so ago, governments in those lockdown blue states weren’t allowing Americans to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion, and compliant holy men obeyed. But if you couldn’t pray in a church, as Todd Beamer prayed on that doomed airliner, you could still visit an “essential” liquor or pot dispensary or order online from Jeff Bezos’ Amazon as you hid in your house.

Fear and anger are potent tools and government, and its politicians rely on media to apply the lash. It was true with the forever war of Afghanistan, and it’s true now as the federal government imposes health mandates that it once said it would never, ever, impose upon free people.

America has changed now.

After the Twin Towers collapsed, after people trapped up in them jumped to their deaths—the images censored so as not to upset us–there were two words we kept hearing: “Never forget.” But we forgot. We’re encouraged to forget everything. And we comply.

President George W. Bush was soon on that mountain of rubble in New York where the towers once stood, and emergency workers were yelling they couldn’t hear him.

“I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you,” Bush said into a megaphone. “And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

And now the war is over. Bush took America to war in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq, to build Jeffersonian democracies among medieval people who didn’t want to adopt our Western ways at the point of a gun.

And all the while the generals and the bureaucrats and the Washington political establishment lied to us about the progress they were making and kept on lying.  And the multibillion-dollar arms contracts kept flowing, as our embassies offered fundamentalist people their choice of gender studies programs.

Current President Joe Biden got America out of the forever war in Afghanistan. But in his botched and chaotic withdrawal from that nation Biden did something that, 20 years ago as we began to mourn the dead, would have been unthinkable.

He partnered up with the Taliban throat slitters. And he left Americans behind.

As I type this, I suppose he’ll say something, eventually about Sept. 11. If he speaks, he’ll read words others have written and his eyes will get wet.

But do his words matter, anymore? Not to me. Perhaps they mean something to you, and if so, I hope you find comfort in them.

Biden’s poll numbers are tanking badly. Americans supported getting out of Afghanistan, but they don’t like the chaotic and thoughtless way Biden did it.

And they don’t like leaving Americans—and those Afghans who pledged their loyalty against the Taliban—behind.

So now Biden changes the subject by announcing an unconstitutional federal vaccine mandate that overreaches his authority.

He doesn’t care. He was desperate to change the subject.

And his useful idiots in media—the very same who barked and screamed about authoritarianism and totalitarianism when Donald Trump was in the White House—are now visiting rage upon Americans who oppose Biden’s unconstitutional mandate.

I’m not opposed to the vaccine. I’ve been vaccinated. And I encourage others to be vaccinated.

 But I don’t like the White House forcing it on people and using the federal hammer to threaten their jobs and kill their businesses.

Was it just yesterday that Biden was talking about the American right to choose? Does that freedom over your body only apply to those taking the innocent lives of unborn children through abortion?

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday confirmed that Biden’s government will not require Covid vaccines for people who illegally cross the U.S-Mexico border.

“That’s correct,” she said sharply and refused to elaborate.

So, you must be vaccinated or suffer pain, according to the White House.

But illegal aliens are exempt?

It is this kind of idiocy that keeps us divided, seething, tribal and full of anger.

Corporate media once pushed the Washington establishment’s lies about the forever wars. Now the same corporate media pushes for Biden’s mandate and shames Americans for not wearing those cheap, blue paper masks that don’t really work, and those who resist being vaccinated.

Back then, on the day of terror, 20 years ago, we weren’t divided. We were together, Americans together. We were united.

 When those New York firefighters and cops and other first responders rushed into those towers, nobody heckled them about being systemically racist oppressors. Nobody cared about the color of their skin. Nobody damned the men for the sins of patriarchy.

There was none of that. They were going into those buildings to save people, knowing they could die. And die they did when the towers fell upon them.

And years later, the toxic dust and fumes and particles ingested by the survivors and other emergency workers at the scene claimed more lives.

On that 9/11 morning 20 years ago, our twin sons were in kindergarten. We turned off the TV news. We didn’t want them awash in fear and be crippled by it. Humans are warped by fear, and children most of all.

 If you had young children at home at the time, perhaps you did as we did. Or you might have done the opposite. I just didn’t want to feed them fear.

They were born the week of the Oklahoma City bombing. And then, when the Twin Towers collapsed, we talked about it with them in the most general terms.

 We told our boys that bad people had done bad things and brought the towers down to hurt others. And that first responders died trying to help those who needed them.

The boys knew about death. They’d been to family funerals and wakes. They’d stood, and prayed with us, at open coffins. We didn’t want to shield them from the truth of death, that it comes for all of us, and that only their faith in Jesus Christ would save their souls.

Then we left it  alone, not talking about it, just watching and waiting, to see how they’d process it all.

Here’s how they began to process it: The boys went down into their playroom. They took out their Legos and began to build. They built the Twin Towers.

And then they smashed their Lego towers on the floor.

Can we rebuild what’s been broken? Yes. But not if we pretend it didn’t happen. Not if we think that two separate National Anthems will lead the way.

 Yes, we can try to forget what we’ve done to each other in the years since. But that’s not rebuilding.

Rebuilding takes effort. It takes sacrifice. We can do it if we remember that on 9/11 Americans weren’t thinking of themselves. We didn’t think of this racial tribe or that racial tribe. We didn’t think of this gender or that one.

We thought of our nation. We thought of each other. We thought of America.

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(Copyright 2021 John Kass)