Ten Things We Didn't Learn From 9/11
January 1, 2002
To demand that government officials be held accountable
for their incompetence.
Is there any doubt, given the revelations concerning what the government
knew about the 20th
hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, in August, that the heads of the FBI,
CIA and Justice Department should have resigned in disgrace for their
failure to properly investigate Moussaoui and thus prevent the 9/11
tragedy? Instead, most Americans seem happy to give these same
officials even more power.
To not blindly trust the
government, but demand information about exactly what its plans and
policies are. We trusted the government to protect us against
terrorist acts, and it abysmally failed. So why do people then
trust it with vague, dangerous plans for military
tribunals, without knowing the details? While there was no
broad public outcry about the tribunals, at least there was a pundit
outcry, and the detailed regulations implementing the tribunals seem far
better than the procedures the initial presidential order would have
To spend what's necessary to protect ourselves. As the continually-being-scaled-back plans
for new airport security
show, the almighty dollar still seems more important than preventing
planes from being blown out of the sky.
To be more generous towards our fellow Americans with
the vast richness of this nation. While contributions to 9/11 charities topped $1.5
billion, it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul: contributions to
non-9/11 charities were drastically
down immediately, and have stayed so, creating the inability to help
many in need.
To go beyond clichés in answering the oft-asked
question of why many people in the world hate us. We can't even entertain the possibility
that some of the grievances of those who express hatred of us have some
validity. Instead, most Americans seem content to attribute that
hatred to irrationality and/or jealousy. I imagine that many in
this country actually agree with Ann Coulter's statement that
we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert
them to Christianity."
To stop supporting dictatorships when it suits our
Our newest alliances are with brutal dictators in
the "stans" which abut northern Afghanistan. Are the
people in those nations going to be the next ones to develop an intense
hatred of us?
we're only as safe as the worst neighborhood on earth, and we need
to share the earth's resources more equitably with the 95% of humans who
It's often said that we are 5% of the world's population, but use 25% of
the world's resources. I don't now if that's accurate or not, but
clearly we use far more than our proportionate share. If everyone
on earth had an American lifestyle, many of the earth's non-renewable
resources would vanish in decades. We can never be safe denying a large segment of
humanity the use of the planet's riches.
To demand that the mass media provide us with all
information, the bad as well as the good, about the conduct of our wars.
There has been no public
insistence to be told about civilian casualties, so the media have
happily acquiesced to the government's wishes and barely reports at all on
the thousands of civilians
who have been killed by U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. Not knowing
what is being done in our name will, if not in this instance, in others,
most certainly come back to haunt us.
To truly understand the horror of modern warfare when
it's directed AGAINST us, not BY us, and therefore be loathe to inflict
it upon innocent citizens of other nations. Many Americans, based on comments to this
site, talk show audience interviews and internet bulletin boards, seem
to have had the opposite response: our civilians died, so let's kill
their civilians -- which is precisely the terrorist mentality, that it's
okay to kill civilians for military/political ends.
To finally understand what so much of the foregoing boils down
to, the necessity of following the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others As We
Would Have Them Do Unto Us.