So it’s Sept. 11. Today I will not fear terrorists, because fear is what terrorists want me to feel. Today I will enlist my right as a citizen of the United States of America to question my government. Today I will be proud to be an American. Today, after all, is just another day.
Sept. 11. If this date evokes even a twinge of fear in your heart, you are letting the terrorists win. Fear is what terrorists want you to feel, hence the name given them and their practices. I’m not saying the events of the day shouldn’t have scared you, because they scared everyone. There is a difference, however, in being fearful of people and practices and being mindful of them. Two years have passed since that sinister September morning and while our world may not be much safer than it was on Sept. 10, 2001, it is not any more dangerous. Yes, airport security is better. Yes, obtaining a student visa is more difficult. Yes, a guy managed to FEDEX himself from New York to Dallas last week. There are still terrorists out there, and while it might be more difficult for them to strike, there are still holes. But if you fear the very prospect of terrorism, do terrorists even need to strike?
What makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck, though, is how the government is using the sinister specter of terrorism as an excuse to expand its influence not only over its citizenry but over the rest of the world. In the name of “Homeland Security” your government now has unprecedented power to tap your phone, read your e-mail and monitor your spending habits. In terms of foreign policy, there are people currently in power (Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz, most notably) who have been advocating a democratization of the Middle East by force from the Reagan administration until today and are now getting the chance to do so. While we are engaging in this crusade under the guise of freeing oppressed people from the grip of tyrants and terrorists, in truth, our government could care less about human rights. The primary reason for engaging in this “war on terrorism” is to secure economic interests in the region, with curbing terrorism against Americans a secondary objective at best. Don’t believe me? Not only does Saudi Arabia have an atrocious human rights record, the Saudi government has as many (if not more) indirect links to terrorists as Iraq used to. Are we going to invade Saudi Arabia?
I love America because of this country’s enterprising, never-say-die attitude. I love America because I can question my government’s motives. I love America because I am an American! Yes, there are people in the world that like America and American culture and want more of it. But it is na/ve and wrong of us to believe that everyone in the world wants to live like Americans. Until we Americans admit our wrongdoings and stop forcing our interests upon those who are unable to resist us, America will remain an object of hatred to those who are desperately trying to hold on to their way of life and what they believe in.
Heroes of the week: The police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians in our great country who put their lives at risk for the greater good. In writing this column, I had a wonderful vision of what the day and memory of Sept. 11 could bring to and mean for Americans: Instead of being a day to somberly remember a horrific event, Sept. 11 in the future could be a commemoration of sorts for the infinitely important and largely thankless contribution to society our country’s police, firefighters and EMTs make every day.
Zero of the week: The recording industry for filing suit against 261 people nationwide. With potential punishment ranging from $750-$150,000 per track (yikes!), 261 random individuals are now facing financial ruin so rock stars and record executives can get another Gulf Stream jet. Terrorism and Capitalism unite, Lars Ulrich be thy king!
Nominations for Hero of the Week can be emailed to Joe. His column runs on Thursdays.