Random thoughts on 9/11

What if 9/11 had caused us to unite under the banner of freedom rather than abandoning our principles?

I remember driving to work, listening to the Mark & Brian radio show on 96.9 as they talked through the initial stages of the attacks.  I didn't really get what was going on until I got to work and could see the video on the internet.  Just like most people, I was transfixed by what was going on and wondered whether I was safe in my office in downtown Sacramento. 

I remember Condoleezza Rice stating within a few days of the attacks that nobody could have imagined terrorists using airplanes as weapons.  My disappointment and eventual disgust with the Bush administration began with that statement.  As a nervous airline passenger, there are many thoughts that crossed my mind whenever I boarded an airplane, including the idea that terrorists may use the airplane for just such a purpose.  If I could think of it, certainly those paid to keep our country secure should have been able to think of it as well.  Ultimately, I believe they had, but Ms. Rice's statement was just the beginnings of excuse-making from those in power.

For all of those who lost their lives, or lost their loved ones that day, I continue to grieve.  It is a scary thing, to suddenly lose thousands of people in one quick attack out of the blue.  I can't imagine the hole that has been left in the lives of so many.  I grieve more, however, for the thousands more who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.  And not just for our soldiers, but for all of the civilians who have died as so much collateral damage in wars—one that has not been fought correctly and one that never needed to be fought.

Ultimately, that is what 9/11 has come to mean to me.  In the fog of a crisis, our leaders are no better than any other human being.  Mistakes were made.  A crisis was used to pursue an agenda that distracted us from the real purpose.  So much misrepresentation, mischaracterization and many falsehoods led us astray.  And so many of us were willing to follow along like sheep, without thought, without question.

A "war" fought the right way in conjunction with a real and serious reconstruction effort in Afghanistan might have done more to overcome the threat posed by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.  Although, having read a little bit on Afghanistan in the past ten years, I believe the idea that we were ever going to be able to "bring democracy" or anything approaching it there was a fallacy. 

9/11 was an attack brought to us by crazy people wanting to destroy our way of life.  We had a choice.  We could have responded by upholding our ideals and principles and demonstrating that even in crisis, certain freedoms, liberties, and principles matter and have meaning.  Instead, we tortured, we lied, we spied on ourselves, we let our fear turn to hate, we united for a day and then let our fear, our insecurity, and our hate tear us asunder.  I only wish that 9/11 had brought something different—a realization that we are one nation, one people (no matter the color, the religion, the belief) that should be united towards one common goal of a better life for all, built upon the principles that led to the formation of our union. A realization that bringing that dream to others holds a better chance of leading to peace than bringing bombs and death.

The very human failures of our leaders and of ourselves led to the unnecessary death of many thousands more, as well as hundreds of billions dollars wasted at a time when our country could not withstand the hit.  This will be the most unpopular line ... but on 9/11/01, the terrorists won.  Ten years later, we are a broken nation, spiritually, morally, and financially.  And those breaks can be traced to our reaction to the horrors of 9/11/01.

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Tom Waltman September 12, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Mr. Paxson. The terrorist beat you. Not me or my family. Nor any of my friends. I feel sorry that you let you fat lazy comfort blind you to the war we have been fighting for year before 9/11, both by Democrats and Republicans holding the Presidential office. Revisionist history is good for bloggers and conspiracy theorists. I hope you enjoy your 15 minutes.
Bwood September 12, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Mark, here's another viewpoint that I can't say I completely disagree with. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/12/paul-krugman-911-blog-pos_n_958137.html
Frank Maita September 13, 2011 at 12:15 AM
Sad old canards and strawmen...
Mark Paxson September 13, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Tom... couldn't you do better than that. Fat, lazy and blind? Come on, try a little harder. Oddly enough, you have absolutely no idea about what I've read, what I've studied, what I've followed for the past 30 years, but you can reach such conclusions because I post something you disagree with. Let me clue you in, an inability to deal with specifics and facts and provide a real response reveals who is fat, lazy, blind, and dumb. Same goes for you Mr. Maita. With nothing more, it's not me that is resorting to canards and straw men. For both of you, OBL wanted one thing when he struck the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and wherever it was that Flight 93 was headed for. He wanted a war that would bankrupt us, that would show us to be no better than the worst of colonial powers. We stepped into his trapped and, as a result of our response, have bankrupted ourselves, and showed ourselves to be no better than the terrorists who attacked us. If you disagree, provide specifics. If you can only call me names and throw out non-specific rejoinders, you demonstrate that you are what you accuse me of. Really, seriously, prove your point with some intelligence, maturity and dignity instead of proving my point with your response.
Mark Paxson September 13, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Bwood ... I consider Paul Krugman to be one of the more intelligent commentators today. He frequently is right about things well before anybody else even begins to consider the issues he writes about.
M.Legison September 13, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Of course you consider Paul Krugman to be the last word. Why wouldn't you? After all, you're hardly an authority on economics and business so by definition you're his target audience.
Mark Paxson September 13, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Hmmm ... interesting. I didn't say he was the last word, but you think that's what I said. Given your lack of any ability to post anything specific or back up anything you post with a credible source, I find you allegations about what i know or don't know to be beyond empty. Really, M. Legison, I'm still waiting for you tel tell me how you know so much about WalMart's pay scales. I'm still waiting for you to open a dialog with specifics rather than an attack. Somehow, I think I'll be waiting for a long, long, long time, because if anything what your side of the debate has demonstrated for years, if not decades, is an inability to deal with specifics, reality, or facts. It's much easier to deal in name-calling and denigration, isn't it?
Bwood September 13, 2011 at 04:04 AM
Mark, spot-on about OBL and his motives...
Frank Maita September 14, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Mr. Paxson, You used this site to express your opinion. Fine by me. I expressed a comment to that opinion as invited by "Leave a comment." It appears you wish to invite arguement rather than allow your opinions and comments to them to stand on thier own. I used no insulting personal attacks. I just suggested that I find your statement of "facts" dubious. I did not impune your sincerity, just your conclusion and representations. I did not say "Really, seriously, prove your point with some intelligence, maturity and dignity instead of proving my point with your response." To borrow a phase, "One of the bargains you make as a purveyor of opinions is that you have to listen to all the people who disagree with you."
Mark Paxson September 14, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Mr. Maita ... I don't invite argument, I invite discussion, a reasoned debate. Instead, what I get from those who disagree with me is getting called fat, lazy, and dumb by somebody who doesn't have a clue who or what I am and a simple throwaway line that is almost meaningless. It's only meaningful in the sense that it does impugn my sincerity because it suggests I'm just throwing up false arguments to make a point. A canard is an unfounded rumor or story. A strawman is "an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position." So you tell me how by using those phrases to comment on my post you aren't attacking my sincerity. And, you do it without any specifics. Add to this that every political post I've had on here has been responded to in much the same fashion by people from the right or conservative side of the aisle, and maybe you can begin to understand my growing frustration with your side's absolute inability to participate in a discussion ... not an argument, a discussion about the issues we face. It is responses like yours, M. Legison's, and Mr. Waltman's that invite arguments. I post what I believe based on years of reading and thinking and following issues, and I get absolute crap in response. You don't want to be accused of lacking intelligence, maturity and dignity, than try responding with some of those traits. If you're comfortable leaving comments that are simply name-calling attacks, go for it. And I will point it out every time.
Frank Maita September 14, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Mr. Paxson, Youv'e proven my point. Thank you for that. Sadly, you are not worth engaging.
Mark Paxson September 14, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Coming from somebody who refused to engage... Here's an idea, if you seriously wanted to engage with me in a discussion of the ideas raised by my original post, instead of just saying "same old canards and strawmen," you might have actually provided some examples of where I utilized canards and strawmen. But, that's not what you did. You know why, with the exception of the suggestion that the terrorists won on 9/11/01, there are no canards and strawmen in my original post.
Frank Maita September 14, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Mind reader as well, you are indeed multi-talented... Enjoy your world, Good Bye.


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