Nine year ago today, the cover of the San Francisco examiner read in bold, capital letters BASTARDS! At the time, this seemed reasonable. People read the enormous letters as a collective speech bubble above the head of America. They were depressed, they were terrified, but most of all, they were furious. They were furious with Al Qaeda, furious with the middle east, furious with the TSA, furious with the CIA, and furious with God for letting something so tragic and horrific happen to America. As the smoke and debris from the burning symbol of American capitalism smothered the financial district, and anger previously unknown to the nation boiled under its skin. The subtitle, beneath the giant bold letters, beneath the plumes of fire and ash exploding from the building, nestled between thick black lines, sat the words they should have read, the words that, nine years later, commonly sit upon our tongues, the words, that at the time seemed insignificant but now stand as tall as the towers once did: “A Changed America”.
Today a common reference point for our lives, 9/11, stands as the day we lost our sense of security. It was the first attack to the homeland, aside from the distant Pearl Harbor since the war of 1812, since America became a world of power, since America transcended the status of “nation” to become an idea. And we, cowering in the proverbial corner, realized that this idea was being attacked, and, brought America to her feet to stand up for our ideals and way of life. But, rather than seeing the smaller red letters at the bottom of the page, we stood up, the big, black, bold anger running through us, and with the enormous insults and anger running through our bleeding red, white, and blue veins, we lost sight of what the terrorists were attacking: freedom.
9/11 is often referenced as the end to privacy. From the Patriot Act, to taking off your shoes, sweaters, bags, hats, and jewelry at the airport, to various 4th amendment violations for those accused of terror, we’ve allowed our privacy to be invaded to epic degrees to avoid a reprise of that horrific day. But beyond our privacy, beyond abandonment of 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendment rights for those suspected of terror, lies another, perhaps worse change that 9/11 has brought us: many of us live in fear and hatred of Muslims. While the cover of the examiner may have been referring to the select few radicals who planned and executed the hijackings, Far too many Americans took this to mean the entire religion, took the radical fringe to be the entire religion, and their anger at the injustice festered into a deep-seated hatred, scape-goating the entire Islamic religion for the actions of a few deeply disturbed, brainwashed lunatics, allowing them to transcend the entire religion’s history of peace, love, and tolerance. Among the graves of the many unfortunate victims from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of heroes in Pennsylvania lays, with no headstone to mark it, with its loved ones in denial of its death, lays America’s tolerance.