We are five years, unbelievably half a decade, past the morning in our history when a horrific trauma impacted our collective psyche; the public discourse has yet to fully heal, though we’ve moved on. Also we’ve moved forward to a state of affairs (it pains me to say, so deeply I regret this) that has left our country in a nearly unrecognizable shape.
Albeit for a brief, clear moment, the skeletal carcass of the monuments to our financial prowess, the grevious damage upon the nerve center of our military might and a smouldering hole in a Pennsylvania field were immediately packaged like a commercial brand and spoken with a cynical tongue to the end of dividing a united citizenry.
Truthfully, I fear we have begun to forget how September 11 has long since been stripped of any physical meaning, its shocking and terrible immediacy supplanted by a slogan for perpetuating the atrocious violence of that autumn day, indeed a GOP trademark stamped onto the embers of nearly 3,000 of our countrymen. It demonstrated a remarkable contempt for the American people, bearing witness to such eager politicization of the tragedy.
This has been pointed out elsewhere, but it is important to mention that Bin Laden’s scythe killed 2,973 Americans (CNN’s statistic), and our President’s led to the deaths (by the Washington Post’s count as of August 29) of 2,944 Americans in Iraq, 330 in Afghanistan and 1,836 in the Gulf states (cit. Wikipedia).* This toll exceeds bin Laden’s 1.7 times, nearly by a factor of two.
So much has changed, and there are positive developments. It is never all gloom and doom; that way lies pessimism, one of the worst of humanity’s inclinations. Look at Lebanon: its people just recently suffered the equivalent of an Sept. 11 attack every day for one month. That is inconceivable. Of course, the Lebanese have their own problems to deal with, namely their (rough) equivalent to our Klan.**
I keep hope that we Americans will stay fast to hope, that not only will we someday heal ourselves but also that we start fighting the jihadis and cease strengthening them. For the sake of the victims we remember today, in fact for the sake of my beloved country and the world, may justice yet be done for them.
*I do not of course blame Katrina on President Bush, as that would be ludicrous; I do point out that his administrative response, that is the lack thereof, of his subordinate executive agencies magnified and amplified what was the natural consequence of the hurricane’s impact, as is amply documented.
**Naturally that is speculation; I think it is legitimate to draw an analogy between their Hizb’ullah and our Ku Klux Klan, which until it was largely marginalized by the victories of the civil rights movement had an impressive pull on our southern territories, viz. Lebanon’s south, championing similarly racist terrorism.
NOTE: The maximum toll posted as of today from Iraq Body Count is roughly 46,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. As a percentage of the U.S. population, this is about 552,000 Americans; the toll from the Civil War, by comparison, was 558,052 (the Louisiana State University Civil War Center).
That figure is roughly 235 greater than what befell us five years ago today. It is, to make a crude estimate, the equivalent of a September 11 attack every week for the entire span of time that has passed between then and now.