The shock, the sorrow and the gargantuan damage of the attacks of 9.11.01 touched us all. Fear was in the air like the ubiquitous ash of the collapsed towers. We felt the fragility of human life. We were reminded that our security was full of holes. Technology was not the culprit here. In a few explosive hours, we learned that astoundingly effective weapons of mass destruction could be fashioned from the most low-tech tools: a shaving kit, a piece of string, a small knife, a box cutter.
Human nature was the culprit here. This is the part of our nature that loves destruction, the rockets red glare, the blaze of glory. The part of our nature that has faith in a vengeful, anti-pleasure, anti-female God who uses His followers to smite the sinners. The part of our nature that believes in a fairy tale paradise after the Apocalypse where all the erotic delights that were denied on Earth are granted in perpetuity. This is the deeply selfish part of our nature that longs for instant immortality, for fiery fame, for a starring role in a TV movie watched repeatedly by billions. This is the part of our nature that believes that might is right, and that when we are wronged, terribly wronged, then the worst revenge is justified. This is the terrorist within us all. And we must fight the terrorists within as well as those without.
In our shock and in our sorrow, America had the sympathy, even the empathy of the world. We could have built upon that, expanded our self-assigned role as Global Beacon of Hope. We would have resisted the terrorist, vengeful part of our nature. We would have done what we could to heal ourselves and our neighbors from the trauma that reverberated like aftershocks from a quake. We would have mobilized our forces and those of our allies to catch and try the criminals who helped perpetrate those attacks.
Instead, America bombed innocent people who happened to live in a country called Afghanistan whose government “harbored” some of those criminals, and let the big daddies–former CIA operative Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar–get away scot-free. Then, in the name of 9/11, America bombed more innocent people in a country called Iraq that didn’t wasn’t even connected with 9/11. In the name of 9/11, we let our leaders chip away at our precious, famous freedoms with the Constitutional box cutters of the Patriot Act, the torture camps of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the CIA’s secret prisons, and the President’s illegal domestic spying program. America gave in to the terrorist within, and stepped up the global holy wars.
And yes, there are treacherous holy warriors amongst us, and not all of them wear turbans. When the Reverend Jerry Falwell declared, just three days after the attack, that “God gave us what we deserve…I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’ ” he attempted to virtually drive a plane through the heart of the nation.
When the current administration calls Americans who protest their perma-wars “Nazi appeasers,” they are doing the same thing. Their multiple, obvious lies make us suspect everything, even their story of what happened on 9.11.01. No wonder so many kooky 9/11 conspiracy theories abound.
And what about our President? A President is just another fragile human, like the Twin Towers are just another couple of buildings. But both are symbols, something we’d like to look up to. That’s why we were crushed when the World Trade Center collapsed (even if we weren’t crazy about its architectural design), and that’s why we look to our President for leadership in times of national trauma (even if we didn’t actually elect him). And where has this President led us? Into a perma-war that’s a holy hell, and that doesn’t even have a credible relationship to the terrible crime of 9/11.
Just imagine if our President, instead of calling for war, had called for peace. Just imagine if he had exhorted us to follow the Bonobo Way instead of acting like baboons. Just imagine if he’d focused America’s energy on tracking down and trying Osama instead of murdering all those innocents in his so-called Terror War. Just imagine if he’d reminded us that the best revenge is living well. Just imagine if he’d told us not to be afraid, and not to let sheer terror guide our hearts or our missiles. Some of us would have felt frustrated. But America would have proven itself to be a true Beacon of Hope. Then we could take real pride in remembering this day.
Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex educator, cable TV host and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her BRAND NEW BLOGGAMY & POST COMMENTS at http://www.drsusanblock.com/blog/blog.asp Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.