Like most Americans, I recall exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. I had just gotten out of bed, and the doorbell rang. When I answered, I found my neighbor on the doorstep, asking if I had seen the news.
“No,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Just turn it on,” he said. “You’ll find out.”
And with that, he was gone.
I switched on the television to see the airplane crash into the first tower. Like everyone else, I was glued to the TV the rest of the day, and we all know what happened in the hours that followed.
After I realized it wasn’t an accident, I went through a period of shock. Seeing airplanes crash into the towers was surreal enough. Then to see them fall? It made me sick. The crash in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon only served to make me more shocked, more sick. And then? I was angry. I wanted whoever was behind the attacks killed ASAP. That was before I learned how many lives were lost. After the number of deaths were tallied, I wanted to personally go kill whoever was behind the attacks with my bare hands.
I couldn’t, of course. I was raising three kids. Even if I wanted to join the military and take up arms, I would be rejected for physical problems. Not a single branch of the military will welcome you in if you’ve had open heart surgery as a child, go figure.
I never agreed with George W. Bush’s on every issue, but my heart echoed his sentiments as he stood in the rubble of the twin towers …
“… the people who knocked down these two building will hear all of us soon.”
In that moment, I was united with the President, as were most Americans.
What followed was sorrow, disappointment with how few survivors there were, and a united resolve to send a clear message that you don’t mess with America. Not in that way. Not ever.
Then came the cleaning up of rubble, the rebuilding of the Pentagon, the erection of memorials, the “war on terror”, and “increased security” in many forms, but perhaps the most irksome was the placement of TSA in every airport.
It never makes sense to take away the people’s right to defend themselves. We get attacked by terrorists via airplanes, and our country disarms us whenever we step on one? Leave defense to the government, they said, to metal detectors and invasive pat downs that feel more like bodily violation than national security. And if that wasn’t enough, those performing the pat downs were taught that profiling was evil – racist and intolerant of other religions and people groups.
Whether airport security was the first political move to ignite fury and frustration in the American people, I cannot say. But it’s the first political move I recall being the most divisive. That divisiveness should not have come as a shock, as a large portion of Americans don’t take kindly to the government ignoring the Second Amendment right to protect themselves and their families.
But it was what it was, and people still had to fly to and fro. So we laid down our arms, not knowing how to stop our government from punishing its people for a heinous crime committed by aliens, and yet still needing to get to a work meeting four states away, or to our child who was due to give birth to our first grandchild any day. Life had to go on, terrorist attacks or no terrorist attacks. Injustice or no injustice.
From there, the tension mounted. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President – a sign to most conservatives that we were not winning the war on terror, we were welcoming it. He proved them right. Terrorism, under his two terms, was largely approached as a non-issue. He had “greater” agendas, like drilling into our heads that America isn’t and never was great, resurrecting racism between blacks and whites, and endorsing the LGBTQ community with great fanfare. “Social justice” and political correctness and tolerance were largely his agendas, and terrorism was no longer a significant issue, in that, he did nothing to combat it, and everything to poo-poo it.
That apathy, that acceptance, may very well be the death of us. The strong push to be accepting of all people at all times is a mentality that keeps us afraid to offend rather than brave enough to defend. Practically speaking, I would rather our law enforcement and military offend non-radical Muslims than a welcome and excuse dangerous radicals who have plans to hijack planes and kill thousands. In other words, national security should be brave enough to offend in order to defend. American security should be willing to take the backlash that might occur from offending someone rather than accept the possibility of someone or many someones dying at the hands of terrorists.
Instead, they’re “brave” enough to take away everyone’s right to protect themselves on an airplane, and to drag them through ridiculous rigarmaroles, but too chicken to offend someone who may fit the profile of a Muslim terrorist. It’s crazy thinking. Why was I, on my way home from seeing my first grandbaby in Florida six years ago, taken aside, my bag ripped open, my personables sorted through, my body patted down, and my skin wiped down to make sure I didn’t have any bomb residue floating around on my person? Because I’m porcelain white? Because I was crying after saying goodbye, and therefore looked as though my emotional instability might be caused by suicide bomb in my bag? Because of my extensive criminal history? (HA!!!)
No, it was because profiling is the sin of all sins, and security must (probably) meet the quota for white person wipe downs for the day. #slightsarcasm
Ridiculous. I don’t exactly fit a terrorist profile. But hey. At least we all feel safe, right? #fullonsarcasm Gotta love our tax dollars going into ensuring that not a soul on earth is offended. I’d feel a lot safer if I and my fellow passengers were cocked, locked, and ready to roll. Arm us all, and let’s see who wins if someone tries to pull a 9/11, hijack a plane and blow it up. Instead, the mentality being forced on us is to come to a potential bomb fight loaded with fingernail clippers.
Nobody ever won a fight by denying who their enemy is. That’s why the fight against terrorism is still very real – because we aren’t even sure who the enemy is anymore. That’s why seventeen years after 9/11 took place, I’m still sick and saddened and angry. I’m not angry at Muslims in general. I’m all for anyone migrating to America, including Muslims, by the droves if they obey the law of the land and don’t attempt to change our nation into theirs. I’m angry at my own government for taking my personal security solely into their own hands, at those who killed our people, and at those who want to follow in their footsteps.
They’re still out there. They’re still plotting. Under the Trump administration, I believe we are once again being vigilant. But vigilance is only part of the solution. The other part lies in the ability of all forms of security – if we must have all forms of security – to get realistic about who is stopped and searched (which should be anyone reasonably and highly suspect in having an ulterior motive, regardless of race or religion), and in the American people to exercise their Second Amendment rights, whether on land, sea, or in the air. Because the way to keep an enemy at bay is twofold:
Make them known. And make them afraid to strike.