On 9/12, I was freaked out.
We had Salman Rushdie in the Twin Cities and we also have the Mall of America, the biggest Mall in the US. So, as such, here in Minnesota, we were concerned we were on a hit list of some kind, and I would imagine that everyone had some sort of reason we were a target. I grew up outside of a town of 350 people, and was told my whole life that we were a nuclear bomb target because there was a huge railroad interchange just 20 some miles away.
Gas had gone from $1.49 to anywhere from $7 to $9 a gallon until the Governor announced he would go after anyone who engaged in price gouging. I still won’t buy gas from the stations that hiked their prices that day.
Friends of mine who were of Middle Eastern decent were scared, and had to deal with people yelling threats toward them when they were in public. We had grounded every plane, and were looking at more security measures we could put in place immediately.
There was a feeling that we might be hit again, and the President was flying around the country from place to place, and no one could tell us where he would be next or why he was being moved around the country every couple of hours. There was a pervasive feeling that our security apparatus was flailing, trying to figure out what to do.
I slept poorly, and by this time, I couldn’t turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with horrifying images of death. He usual media suspects were looking for who to blame, and it was their political enemies. TV Religious leaders who met weekly with the President of the United States got together on their TV shows and radio networks to announce that people were killed because we allowed gay people to exist. They still say it, and Billy Graham’s daughter said it yesterday, still looking to conflate the people they hate to the worst attack in US history.
In the days following, there became a huge divide in Us vs Them, and you’d best hope you weren’t one of Them. And They had brown skin. They spoke with accents. They didn’t worship the right God or a God at all. They voted wrong in the last election. The political advisors of the President said they would be using this event to go after their political enemies. He didn’t say this in a smoke filled room away from prying eyes, he said it on national TV the same week that we were attacked.
A massive bill was rushed through Congress within days that curtailed rights and opened up surveillance of US citizens, and it has come out that the PATRIOT Act was written and ready to go long before the attacks, just waiting for an excuse to clamp down on the new tech being introduced. It was voted on without people reading it because we were all so freaked out, we demanded action, and NO ONE would vote against something with Patriot in the name.
We were told the countries we were going to attack the next day, and the news was leaking that we would attack Iraq and make up the reasons later. OK, the US news didn’t report it, because they were being Patriotically Correct, but news sources outside the US were, and it turned out there were correct.
If you felt more connected to your fellow citizens on 9/12, I’m happy for you, and I don’t want to rain on your parade, but…a lot of people were freaked out, a lot of people saw themselves in crosshairs. 9/12 was the day after a national trauma, and I was shell shocked and scared. I was concerned that my friends, family, and people who were supposed to keep us safe were all in danger, and it was a feeling worse that the pervasive fear we had during the Cold War.
We now have a President who makes up stories about people whose skin color is different from his celebrating the attacks on 9/11 with no evidence to support him, and he used that to create legislation and rules around who can come and go inside our borders. The mayor of New York just used 9/11 to put out an ad that anyone who questions the government was the same as terrorists. We are still fighting the wars started after 9/11, and there is no good solution to complete them. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in those wars, and we will be dealing with the blowback of that for the rest of our lives.
I don’t ever want to feel as scared, worried and vulnerable as I did on 9/12. Ever.