9/11-This Is What I Will Never Forget
When I am asked to never forget 9/11, this is what I will never forget:
I will never forget those attacks uncovered a long smoldering fear of foreigners and dark skinned people that broke down the fabric of American society.
I will never forget how transient and fragile our sense of racial harmony really was once America’s majority imagined themselves facing the same threats America's minorities face every day.
I’ll never forget that the thousands of people who died on 9/11 were unwitting victims of a backlash against a decades-old American imperial foreign policy in the Middle East, the effect of using tribal divisions to fight proxy wars against Russia since WWII.
I will never forget that the solidarity we felt in the days after 9/11 and the trust we placed in our president to do right by us was used to pass the Patriot Act which led to the violation of the rights and privacy of nearly every American.
I will never forget the slippery slope argument of claiming that a 1% chance of attack justifies a 100% response being used to justify everything from the suspension of due process, domestic spying, rampant defense spending, racial profiling, and torture.
I will never forget every time I get on an airplane, I have to take off my shoes because one brown guy, one time, tried and failed to sneak explosives on to a plane in his shoes because our response to every threat that involves terrorism and brown people is an outsized, irrational overreaction.
I will never forget that our response to anything that involves terrorism and white people is deafening silence.
I will never forget instead of hunting the perpetrators of 9/11 as international criminals and indicting their country of origin, Saudi Arabia, their pursuit was cast as a global conflict of culture and religion, vilifying anyone of Middle Eastern origin and of Islamic faith, strangely excluding the Saudis.
I will never forget that 9/11 was used as a justification to start two of the longest wars in American history, in two separate countries, against regimes not implicated in the 9/11 attacks for reasons that proved to be lies, killing more than a million civilians.
I will never forget the tens of thousands of American service members who gave their sanity, their limbs, and their lives in the service of wars with creeping scope and nebulous strategy, with no definition of what a victory would look like even though seeking victory is what justified continuing the wars years after it was clear there was nothing to "win."
I will never forget that 9/11 ushered in the era of drone strikes where every day, innocent children fear terror from the skies as the leaders and generals of our nation feel entitled to execute criminals without due process, unconcerned about the collateral deaths of nearby civilians.
I will never forget that in the name of the United States of America, innocent people have been killed, tortured, and held indefinitely in secret prisons.
I will never forget the image of men tortured with electrodes attached to their genitals, threatened with dogs, sodomized by soldiers, and starved in our name.
I will never forget American military officials making the case waterboarding isn’t torture.
I will never forget the outbreak of racial animosity that sparked a massive resurgence in gun ownership, coinciding with a rash of mass shootings and police brutality.
I will never forget the nearly identical looks of impotent rage and panic in people’s eyes in videos where they inexplicably lose composure and start pathetically shouting at people who appear foreign or dare to speak in a language other than English in their presence.
I will never forget people have been attacked and removed from airplanes because they were wearing turbans or speaking Farsi.
I will never forget that the fear unleashed on 9/11 stoked a nationalistic fire that fueled White Supremacy, emboldening Nazis and Klansmen to march openly in the streets, and young white men to loudly advocate for the expulsion of non-white races from this country.
I will never forget that the fear of “otherness” led to the election of an openly fascist and racist president who has been dismantling the institutions of democracy piece by piece.
I will never forget that a scared white Christian populace was willing to forsake all its moral high ground for a blow-hard strong man who appealed openly to their sense of tribal identity and knee-jerk protectionism, ignoring his blatant sexism, plain-spoken bigotry, and utter incompetence.
I will never forget that the definition of “Real American” has shrunk to something petty, mean, and unrecognizable.
I will never forget that all of this happened because one time, one day, years ago, the citizens of this country felt how it feels to live in another country besides the United States of America.
I will never forget how much we Americans willingly surrendered of our identity and ourselves because we felt fear and powerlessness in a way we never had before.