The events of September 11th, 2001 are arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to America – worse even than Pearl Harbor – but not for the reasons you might expect. What makes them worse is the grand irony that’s been piled on top of the insult and injury, for ten years now, it’s now clear that the biggest blow we received that day was neither the loss of innocence nor the loss of life but rather the government’s hysterical reaction to it all, spearheaded by the Neocons and other fear-mongers of the Far Right. This has done far more to destroy our civil liberties and way of life than anything the terrorists ever accomplished on their own.
Think how much things have changed since then: It will sound fantastical to our grandchildren that we used to meet our loved ones right at the gate as we stepped off an airplane; that we used to be able to arrive five minutes before takeoff and be ushered hurriedly onto the plane, carrying, if we wanted to, a bottle of water, or strike-anywhere matches, or even a pocketknife with up to a four-inch blade. It will seem absurd that for most of the country’s history, there was no massive fence separating the U.S. from Mexico, no passports required to visit our peaceful neighbor, Canada. They will never have known a world without biometric scanners and drone surveillance, or an Internet free from Homeland Security keeping tabs on every Facebook comment and every tweet.
If the Republican party continues down the Bible-paved path that it’s currently heading on, and if it somehow manages to gain enough momentum between now and election time to actually unseat Obama, then one day it may likewise seem unbelievable that there was ever a time when atheism was not illegal; that the Bill of Rights once defended the right of citizens to criticize religion without being arrested for blasphemy; that women were once able to choose whether or not to have an abortion; that homosexuality was not always a capital offense, and that education used to involve the teaching of science.
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