By Mark Graham
September 11th is a day that most of us will never forget, regardless of what age we were then, or from what part of the world we are from. The image of the towers of the World Trade Center plummeting to the ground is seared into our memory and imprinted on our childhood. The first responders on that day showed the best of America, displaying amazing self-sacrifice, courage, and bravery.
That event led to the beginnings of the so-called “War on Terror.” So ten years after 9/11 let us briefly examine where we are as a society and how the world has been forever changed.
Justice has at last caught up with Osama Bin Laden. However, according to the Federal government and the media, we are no closer to winning the war against terrorism than before, so it is required of us to stay vigilant and be weary of future attacks.
It must be asked though, how can we win a war with no clearly defined enemy? Are we to continue to hopelessly drift into a future where the federal government continues to violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights all in the name of keeping us safe? New precautions and measures continue to be taken every time there is the slightest incident which might be linked to terrorism. The newly introduced X-ray scanners at airports are of prime example here, introduced after the Christmas Day bomber incident. This continued expunging of our liberties is not a policy any of us should be in favor of, and I do not say that without having experienced extremism, since I am from Northern Ireland and am very much aware of the dangers of terrorist activity.
One thing I was not aware of though, until I began to read the writings of America’s Founding Fathers (The Federalist Papers in particular) was the need to be aware of the erosion of our liberties.
Since 9/11 with the passage of the Patriot Act, many of the freedoms Americans have enjoyed have been violated. Thus, the act has been regarded as unconsitiutional by many, including Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Indeed the act itself was hurried through Congress after 9/11, surely in the passion of the moment, before members of the congress had the opportunity to read and contemplate the consequences of the bill. Of course the measures in the bill are presented by the mainstream media as being necessary for our safety. But ask yourself: are you willing to trade your freedoms for the illusion of safety? Because it is impossible to legislate the safety of citizens as regards to terrorism. For example, we have seen this in Norway lately with the loan-wolf attack by Anders Breivik. There will always be individuals willing to use violence in order to gain attention for their political greed, and this is not confined just to Muslims.
Here in America, the political party that controls the government does not seem to matter because, in general America and the western world continue on a path towards an overprotective and intrusive government. We are frisked at airports and our political
opinions looked at with suspicion. Home-grown terror seems to be the latest discussion point–the idea that there is a real possibility that a single, extremist nutcase could attack. This is of course the threat, but no more so than it has always been.
Even more distressing is the willingness of the western powers to use military force in pre-emptive strikes since the 9/11 attacks. To the Arab world, these wars represent a form of modern imperialism. Even though they seem to be carried out with the noblest intentions, they are leading to incredibly serious consequences, such as a greater installment of hatred for the western way of life in the middle-east, and the hijacking of military operations by corporate interests for profit. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly western corporations move into these supposedly liberated countries. It is already happening in Libya with oil. All these wars are putting young American lives in danger, and for what? Bin Laden was not found in Afghanistan and as of late, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.
The only way to defeat terrorism to the extent to which congress is hoping for, is for us not to give up our way of life. We cannot give up our liberties. If we do, then the terrorists have won, for what they seek is to have us live in constant fear. If we continue to give up our liberties and to accept it in the name of safety, we are doing a disservice to the victims of 9/11, their families, and the troops that are fighting and dying for our freedoms.
So to all Americans, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 let us honor the memory of those that died and pledge once again to never forget. But let us not forget what America is and has always been about–life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as a foreigner, I say, let the greatest, liberty loving nation on earth once again stand as a beacon of light and an illustration to the world of what freedom truly is. Renew America and remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”