10: Things Change and Then They Don


10: Things Change and Then They Don't

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Here we are, ten years after the attacks of 9/11, and it's almost as if nothing has really changed.

But of course, we know it all has. I won't go through a litany of things, trying to wax poetic about it all. And while we want to lambast the George W. Bush administration for being the moment in American history where things start to decline, we've got no real energy for that. We know that things Bush did and the fallout from 9/11 are still being felt and have altered what this country is and stands for.

And here is where we are: ten years have passed and things are as they were prior. We have politicians who are absolutely the most pathetic creatures to sleaze their away across a television screen. The art of lying is back to the fore, almost becoming a science. We hate each other more than before: we guess that could be a change but it's not something for which we should be proud. We've never seen such a level of hate in this country, and it makes the days after 9/11 seem almost idyllic in the aftermath of all that horror. People wanted to show their pride in their country (well, except for Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag) and nobody wanted to be labeled a Democrat or a Republican. It was all about being American.

Yet, just recently, during a GOP candidate debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry received cheers when questioned about his oversight of over 200 executions. Cheers. This is the post-9/11 world: we love death. We are unapologetic about it. Add to the fact that the Bush Administration falsehoods leading to the invasion of Iraq will never be corrected, much less acknowledged. In a strange way, the Obama Administration set the tone for that by refusing to investigate the lies that wound up costing us over 4,000 soldiers' lives. Obama wanted to look ahead, not back, and that pretty much sums up our entire mentality during the last decade. We don't look back. Nothing to learn from, nothing to see. Move on.

It's almost as if our entire culture has decided to drown itself in ever deeper waters. We just don't care about anything. We were told during the Bush years not to worry about anything, to continue shopping as usual. Now, all of the sudden, everyone has turned into a miser because of federal deficits, quickly forgetting the $3 trillion wars that keep going on. People are fixated on things (like spending) that normally would not be a social issue at all, but all of the sudden, we are willing to tell everyone that the social contract is nothing but a piece of paper. Throw it away. Let people suffer. What's appeared in the past two years might be the pent up anger of a decade of war and terrorism. Now, we're just mean. And we like it. We feel no compunction about starving people or shrugging off the unemployed. Don't have a home anymore? Well, you probably deserve it so don't ask for sympathy. Too bad, so sad.

There is a central meanness that now dominates the national character. We thought we were supposed to be more sensitive after 9/11. I thought we were supposed to truly come together. Instead, ten years later, we're back to where we were, only with a deep hatred for one another. It just astonishes me to write that: we hate one another. We don't seem to care about the nation, but about ourselves. We want to turn back the clock on so many things we've accomplished over decades. It's reflected in our voting: the new freshman class of legislators elected in 2010 just appear to be the meanest, most vindictive bunch ever to take the oath of office, threatening to cut up the social net with unrestrained glee. In more temperate times, these folks would be considered fringe candidates. Today, they're all mainstream. Whatever is loud, ignorant and mean is the preferred trait to be lauded and applauded. Ten years after 9/11, it seems all the forces that want to shred what keeps us together have appeared, hungry to destroy, slash and burn. And to great cheers! Our society no longer has a broad vision with a can do spirit. We have narrow eyesight and a complaint that someone else should do it.

September 11 really has changed everything. For the worse.