Civil Discourse Now

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"Never forget 9/11"---the tragedy or how government jumped on an opportunity to make bad laws and wage stupid war.

   The attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, were tragic. That is an opinion, but one held by many from nearly every political viewpoint. Deaths and massive destruction are terrible. On this day 12 years ago, we watched TV depictions of aircraft that flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. We heard reports of the aircraft in Pennsylvania that dove from tens of thousands of feet and crashed into the countryside of Pennsylvania.

   An odd week followed, during which no aircraft crossed the sky. We live under one of the basic flight patterns for Weir Cook Airport (I prefer the traditional to the generic "Indianapolis International") and so flights over our house are frequent. A quiet sky was very strange.

   Our people and our country always should be vigilant in defense. We also should be aware of the advantages that unfairly can be taken from such tragedies.

   We had the "Patriot Act," and its attack on civil rights and civil liberties foisted upon us. The law remains with us today.

   We detained people---and continue to detain them today, a dozen years later---at the naval coal station at Guantanamo Bay on the Eastern tip of Cuba, without trial in violation of every concept of justice and due process of which I am aware. If those people are guilty of crimes---be they military crimes or civil---they are entitled as basic human rights to charges being filed and trial. A "revenge" response might be, "They didn't give the people in those towers, the flight in Pennsylvania or the Pentagon due process." That presumes: (1) the detainees, as they commonly are called, are guilty, yet they have not been tried; and (2) that, even if they are guilty, we are no better than terrorists and are justified in sharing their tactics; yet ours is supposed to be a society based on laws and recognition of certain rights.

   We fought a war that has cost us dearly in lives and dollars, and cost another country even more, when the country in question had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Of course, I jean Iraq. Then-President George W. Bush jumped on the attacks as pretext to invade a country whose leadership was anathema to us and, because of its secular nature, anathema to those who attacked us (Al-Qaeda) as well. WMDs were used as the plausible reason for invasion, but public sentiment then was that Iraq had a part to play in the attacks. After all, we were attacked by Arab believers in Islam, and Iraq was a nation governed and predominantly peopled by Arab believers in Islam.

   Today, those people who lost their lives here will be mourned and honored. As a people we also should mourn the crass manner in which leaders of our government took advantage, and continue to take advantage, of a tragedy to advance a reactionary and costly agenda.

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