I have been trying, trying to write this post for awhile now. The politics part of this bores and fascinates me equally, but it’s the human part that gets to me. It is what keeps me from writing because the thoughts in my head swirl and expand, and I don’t know where to start or end.
But I will try.
I was a sophmore in high school when 9/11 happened. I will remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with for the rest of my life. My second period choir class had just ended, and as we started to leave, several kids ran by the door shouting “We’re at war! We’re at war!”
Two minutes later I entered our cafeteria, and the televisions mounted high in the corners all showed the same thing: Horror. I stood there for a few minutes, and then I watched as the second plane hit the second tower. I had seen it coming, heard the brief confusion of the news anchor, and remembering thinking “Oh good, someone must be flying close to see if they can help.” As nonsensical as that thought seemed, it was the only logical thing that made sense in the three seconds it took to be proven wrong. I was fifteen, and up until that very moment in my life, I had never seen or imagined anything as horrific as what I was witnessing in real time on the television. Throughout the rest of the day, the rumors swirled around school. The nuclear plant that was twenty miles north of us was on a “hit list”, if it were hit, we would never stand any chance. When you’re fifteen, those “facts” matter, and they are what you grab onto and believe.
The weeks and months that followed 9/11 were surreal. The American people wanted justice, they wanted war to soothe their pain and confusion, and they got it. We stood united in those months, and with the passing of the Patriot Act, we believed we were on the path to a more secure country.
But what’s that old saying? “Give someone an inch, and they’ll try to take a mile?”
I am an American. I vote in every election, national and state, and I read about every initiative on the ballot. I believe in the power of the people, I believe that we should all lead more and follow less, and I do believe in government. What 9/11 brought to our attention, our elected officials took and ran with, and we gave them our permission then because the horror was so fresh. What has happened in the years since, well, it is partially our fault.
The Patriot Act was passed a little over a month after the September 11th attacks, and with very little debate. It was only after the fact that leglislators started to realize that they should have taken a closer look at what they voted for. Perhaps Congress wanted to move swiftly to show how serious the United States was about combating terrorism, but with a nation in pain, everyone wanted to be a hero and show any and all support for something they had barely read. From that moment on, the very thing this country was founded on became compromised.
We are not as free as we would like to believe, but we also enjoy being ignorant of this fact. In the years since 9/11, if you have lived under the assumption that the government is not watching you, and that because you’re not a ‘terrorist’ you are not on their radar, you are ignorant. If you have lived under the assumption that the government is acting in your best interest, to protect America and your personal freedoms, you are ignorant. Do I want to start a revolution? Not especially, because I have seen what happens when we rise up and demand change. We have given the power to elected officials, blindly in some cases, and we are not going to get it back any time soon.
The recent ‘knowledge’ of the NSA surveillance should not come as a shock to anyone. Did you honestly believe the government would let you know it was watching your emails and recording your call data? On that same token, how could you not see this coming? What Edward Snowden brought to our attention, we should have had an inkling of, and if you are shocked and outraged well you are ten years too late. The idea that our government is simply on the lookout for terrorists is insane, the idea that this mass collection of data is somehow ‘helpful’ in the war on terrorism is insane, and I will give one example: The Boston Bombings. Apparently, in all of our data-mining, we never saw this coming. How? I cannot claim that this practice has not thwarted any attacks in the last decade, because I simply don’t know. That is also part of the problem, we don’t know anything.
The ‘hunt’ for Edward Snowden has really opened my eyes. Since what has happened isn’t exactly illegal, he couldn’t reveal the illegal practices of the government, he just revealed more of their shittiness. He has embarrassed the most powerful government on earth, and their efforts to capture and silence him for exposing what we should have already known is interesting to follow. Those Americans that are branding him as a criminal and a traitor, shame on you, for not standing up for yourself and more importantly, for not realizing (or caring) that he is defending the Constitution. Civil liberties. And you. The government of the United States is a bit of a bully, and if you haven’t realized that by now, then you are willfully ignorant.
In other news, DOMA is dead. Which means that we can forget about all of these feelings and just feel good about being an American again. Because, you know, it’s 2013 and finally! Equality! Sort of. In some states. Maybe. And if you are a woman, and you live in Texas, you still have some control over your own body and what to do with it! Sort of. Maybe. For now.
Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both
parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard
Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps
you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house
Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity
i hate you