Portsiders Reflect: Ten Years After 9/11
9/11 and the train of events that followed it was a
calamity of historic significance. We at Portside asked a
number of our past contributors for brief reflections on
the significance of the event and this anniversary. In
the next several days we'll present these along with a
selection of readers' comments on that day and what has
come after it.
Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been ten years
since that awful day September 11, 2001. Sometimes it is
hard to believe the avowed enemies of the United States
killed more than 3000 non-combat civilians in New York's
Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and that lonely Pennsylvania
But it has been ten years and our lives and country have
changed greatly in that time.
My son, Sam, with whom I flew that day, has grown into an
eleven year old boy-skateboarder, drummer, and baseball
catcher. He and I were at Chicago's O'Hare Airport that
day when they announced the ground stop that awful
We all allot more time when we leave for the airport.
Some of us may nervously survey the other passengers with
our own eyes and bemoan the security lines.
But the real and dramatic changes are to our country and
our country's place in the world
The events of September 11, 2001 hardened our United
States and us. Some say that's what Al Quaeda intended.
After pledging to protect and defend the Constitution when
he was sworn in nine months before, President Bush and his
Administration began to ignore those parts they thought
inconvenient or in the way.
They wiretapped American citizens without authority. They
kidnapped citizens of other countries and turned them over
to the world's worst torturers. They locked hundreds up
in a tropical island fortress without guilt or even
The Unite States became one of the world's leading
practitioners of torture. And we all learned terms like
water boarding, walling, stress positions.
And our United States went blindly into war on the basis
of lies. Our Secretary of State knowingly or not, lied to
the United Nations to justify our invasions, war, and
occupations of Iraq. And we invaded Afghanistan.
So now when I go out to eat in my neighborhood near Walter
Reed Army Hospital, I see young men in wheelchairs missing
limbs or parts of their scalps, empty eyes, vacant stares.
I see their Mom and Dad's, sweethearts and wives with
their determined smiles that say, "What happened to him,
to his life, to our lives?"
Has the United States defeated Al Quaeda? I don't know.
But what about America?
There are twenty million Americans without work. The same
political party that lied to get us into war now says the
wars have cost too much, now says the government budget is
too hamstrung to do what it takes to jump start the
What does unnecessary war do to a nation's young people,
its budget, and its soul?
Are those two wars worth the dismantling of Social
Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the promises to our
Are those two wars worth the lack of investment in our
economy and the future of our country? Are those two
wars worth the lack of investment in green and renewable
energy which could create almost two million jobs. Are
those two wars worth the continued crumbling of our
nation's infrastructure--rail lines, roads, bridges,
Can we really afford 10 years on for Al Quada and Bin
Laden to have changed the nature of America and America's
place in the world, and America's relationship with its
[Stewart Acuff is co-author of Getting America Back to Work
and formerly Director of Organizing for the AFL-CIO]
By Carl Bloice
I'm reminded of one aspect of the atmosphere on the
left following the cruel, criminal and cowardly attack
of September 11 and the subsequent attack on
Afghanistan. I'm reminded of the scorn heaped on people
like Noam Chomsky, and others in the then fledgling
anti-war movement, for daring to raise the question of
the real reason for 911.
Progressives do have a way of asking - even when evil
people do bad things - what gave rise to this moment?
The same questions can be asked of the NATO attack on
Libya. Those who question it are not defenders of
tyrants and those who proffer facile explanations are
obliged to ask what gave rise to this and what are the
potential consequences? What do Cameron, Sarkozy and
the emir of Qatar really have in mind?
The longest war in our country's history still rages in
Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people have lost
their lives and there is no way the "liberal
interventionists" and their defenders on the left can
maintain that because of it Afghanistan, South Asia or
the world is more secure or better off. We are required
to go on asking: where did this begin? What chain of
events set it in motion?
[Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of
the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees
of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and
formerly worked for a healthcare union.]
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