As soon as the first tower fell — or maybe even sooner — people knew that September 11, 2001 would be a day they’d remember for the rest of their lives. I myself remember the first class I had that morning. I remember some of the conversations I had with my girlfriend at the time.
But most of all, I remember how stupid everyone was.
People were idiots in the hours and days after the September 11 attacks. I mean, people are always idiots, but it was bad after September 11.
I remember how in my Trumpet Techniques class that morning, Emily Heern got a phone call from a relative, informing her that the Palestine Liberation Organization had taken responsibility and declared war on the United States. Such a notion is preposterous to anyone with an even cursory knowledge of Palestine’s recent history, but somehow that rumor got started and spread within an hour of the first attack.
I remember how one choir guy walked up and down the halls of the Fine Arts Building, talking loudly and resolutely on his cell phone to a relative who, didn’t you know?, had close ties1 to the Pentagon, and this guy assured us all loudly that there would be “a major retaliatory response within the hour.”
I remember stories from Poplar Bluff of gas stations hoarding fuel and pawn shops hoarding weapons, and one in particular of a gas station owner who shut his station down because “The ground war will probably be fought through here and our tanks will need the gas.”
And this is to say nothing of the national news media, who, smack in the middle of the deadliest attack on US soil in sixty years, tried to characterize it with hilariously stupid and inappropriate puns like “911 — NATIONAL DAY OF EMERGENCY”.
A while back, Glenn Beck started a campaign he called the “9/12 Project”, a call to return to the way we felt after that fateful morning. He and many like him would have you believe that they want that because on that precious day, we were all, for once, united.
But if something united us after September 11, 2001, it was simple fear. We were all quite literally scared stupid. And whether they know it or not, all those that want us to return to 9/12’s mindset want it precisely because we were at our most fearful, most idiotic, most vulnerable, most impressionable.
We’ve willfully given up a lot of essential liberty in the name of a little temporary safety in the last ten years. We can’t put the twin towers back together as they were, and we can’t reclaim the lives that were lost that day, but if we ever hope to put this nation right again, we must take our mindset at least as far back as 9/10, if not considerably further.
We’re nowhere near being able to do that today. I fear for our country’s future.