Everyone has a “where were you when you heard about the attacks of 9/11” story. Mine begins with sitting at my desk working in Charlotte, NC and receiving a phone call to turn our tv on. The back story to my version is that my 7 month pregnant wife was supposed to be there that day in NYC at the WTC. She lost several co-workers/friends and most likely would have been lost herself, along with our unborn child. The only reason she was not there was because our doctor would not allow her to fly due to her advanced pregnancy. That fact tears me up every single time I think about it.
Does anyone ever ask “where was America before the day of the attacks of 9/11?” Maybe, but I don’t see anyone looking back in that way. We were a far different nation before that day that much is fact. What has been the aftermath of 9/11 on this nation? Did we rise from the ashes of the Twin Towers a stronger, wiser nation, or have we disintegrated into a chaotic society on the brink of total collapse? I know what I feel the answer to be. Let’s examine the facts.
The immediate response to 9/11 from our leaders, and especially then President George W. Bush was to tell Americans to “go shopping.” Do you remember? Shopping was the patriotic directive given to the American public. Buy stuff. In hindsight, we probably all should have seen this was not going to go well right then and there. Some did see that and screamed it loudly. I will be completely honest and tell you that I was not one of them, and I looked at the screamers with scorn. I, and most Americans rallied behind the President…and we did what he said. We went back to our lives like nothing had happened, we shopped, we built up debt, and we put our blinders back on. Bad idea. Really bad idea.
The next phase of the aftermath was the start of what no one could have ever known would be (2) horrible wars that still to this day are killing the young men and women of this nation. The first was Afghanistan. In the days after 9/11 we were told that a terrorist group led by man named Bin Laden had orchestrated this entire event from the caves of this far off, strange land that nobody was sure where it was even located. We just knew the Soviet Union had a real bad time there once before and finally got the hell out. The USSR crumbled in pretty quick fashion not long after. President Bush came on TV often back then. He would tell us things like he’s going to “smoke ’em out” of those caves. I remember always thinking to myself he sounded like Yosemite Sam when he made those stupid remarks. I even wrote many funny emails (my version of a blog back then) to my list making fun of his smoke ’em out talks. Then the war in Afghanistan began.
We were told that in Afghanistan that not only were there this terrorist organization, but a political faction called The Taliban. Apparently we had to smoke them out too. We were told that they were led by a “one-eyed” crazy man named Mullah Omar. Seriously. That’s what they told us. The one-eyed man was in on it. Was this The Fugitive or reality? I don’t know anymore. I do know one fact…the one-eyed leader of the Taliban has hardly ever been mentioned since, and he certainly has never been caught. But Mullah Omar was a bad guy and he needed to be smoked out like Bin Laden. Ok we said. Smoke those bastards out Mr. Prez! We are right behind ya buddy! “Git sum towelheads” we all said. Went pretty well for a good bit too. The Taliban didn’t even put up resistance when our soldiers boots hit the ground. They fled like little girls into the hills and we quickly began to “save” Afghanistan from the evil one-eyed man and his cave-dwelling terrorist buddy. Pretty cool stuff. We were exacting revenge and it felt good to Americans. Yosemite Sam had off the charts approval ratings. His cowboy act got even more pronounced seeing poll numbers like that. We were shopping, buying some bad ass tv’s and stuff, doing our part, and our boys and girls of the military were tearing up some Muslim butt. Things were getting better. Then came the day at Tora Bora. It seemed the day had FINALLY come that Mr. Bin Laden was going to get “smoked out” of those blasted caves. Every news outlet in the world had their cameras fixed on the hills of Afghanistan just waiting for an American soldier to emerge from a cloud of smoke with Bin Laden in chains and the One-Eyed Mullah right behind him. We waited. We waited a little more. Finally I guess somebody said, “uh dude, you think he’s really in there?” They checked. Nope. No Bin Laden here. Move along cameras…nothing to see here. Everything kind of went downhill from there.
The tone changed after Tora Bora. Instead of “smoking ’em out” we got a whole bunch of Donald Rumsfeld telling us daily that this was now going to be long, drawn out war that could last a generation. Huh? What the hell are you talking about Rummy? Get Yosemite back on here and tell us you have him in your sights. Well Rummy was telling the truth at that point. This was indeed going to take a long time. Meanwhile, strange things began to happen to America. That shopping thing wasn’t going so well as it turned out. The economy was tanking. Large, large amounts of money began to pour out of the government into the private sector (stimulus) to keep things going, and interest rates began to sink to encourage buying. This was the start of what we all now know as America’s fatal debt “problem.” When President Obama says this really wasn’t his fault, he’s not lying. It wasn’t, but he’s done a real bang up job of making it FAR WORSE since he took over for Yosemite Sam. That aside, let’s get back to the recap.
The economy was not the only strange thing going on. Politically , the unity and hand-holding after 9/11 didn’t last long. After Tora Bora, the left side of the political spectrum began to sense blood in the water and started to position itself as anti-war. The mostly left controlled media followed suit and a new and particularly nasty tone began to divide Americans.
At the same time, we were now starting to be bombarded ourselves daily with terror warnings and events. The anthrax event…the DC sniper…and multitudes of false alarms and warnings, all given to us by the color coded system of the brand new government agency known as the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS. When all is said and done about this story, and we are far from that point, the creation of the DHS might very well turn out to be the most ominous and horrible thing that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11. A monster with long terrible tentacles that has quickly eaten up several other government agencies once trusted by the American people, and now has it’s grip on our once private lives more and more every day that passes. The DHS is a behemoth that George Orwell himself could have probably never envisioned. It will and does continue to get worse. All aided by the passage of a bill that was wrapped up in a red, white and blue package called the Patriot Act. Who is against a patriot ya know? That bill, that continues to be renewed into the Obama administration (though he was bitterly against it as a then Senator) and continues to be built upon, that creeps into almost every aspect of your life. That was the start of Americans becoming the “target” of our government focus and not the cave dwelling one-eyed man and his little bearded buddy.
So we had all of this going on, and then came word that all of sudden Sadamm Hussein was also now once again a major problem, and can you believe it, was planning on blowing us all up with the nukes he was building? The CIA said they had proof and a very famous article by the respected Wall Street Journal verified the intelligence. We were about to open a second front on the now labeled “War on Terror.” The political wrangling lasted months and as usual was nasty and heated. Deep concessions were made to buy votes, concessions such as the ones that led to the collapse of the housing market in 2008, and finally the ok was given by Congress to bomb the (bleep) out of Iraq. Oh and it was a beauty. Yosemite Sam was back in the saddle. He named the campaign “shock and awe” and the whole world watched on CNN as we blew Baghdad to smithereens. Once again, when boots hit the ground, nobody was there to fight us. Within weeks we seemingly had control of the entire country of Iraq. Yosemite helicoptered himself on to an aircraft carrier and declared to the whole world “mission accomplished!” We felt good again. The stimulus money poured into the economy was taking effect, tax cuts were in place to further the cause, we just blew away a country like it was video game, and most Americans were once again feeling good about things. Uh oh. It couldn’t last though. Funny thing about Iraq. They never did find those weapons of mass destruction. “Now where did that wily coyote hide those darn things anyway?”, Yosemite asked himself as daily intelligence reports continued to come up empty. Much like Tora Bora, it all came up empty.
The media turned on the President in full force and so did much of America. His happy poll numbers plummeted. At the same time, it turned out that a large and extremely dangerous resistance had formed in Iraq, aided by neighboring Iran and covertly (and will never be admitted) by Russia and China. American soldiers began to die in large numbers. They did in Afghanistan as well. We were told now that both wars could last 25 years or more. John McCain even said it would take 100 years. He campaigned for President saying that. What? No more smoke em’ out I guess. Instead, they were bleeding us dry with death by a thousand cuts. Chinese warfare 101.
Time went on, things got worse and worse, and then the Fall of 2008 came. Yosemite Sam didn’t have much longer to go to deal with this. He was hated by almost everybody and considered a failure by most. Then the banks crashed. Oh how they crashed. Chaos on Wall Street just as the bearded one had dreamed of. The aftermath of that event we are still dealing with…a temporary pause in what was almost “martial law in the streets” as described by one congressman who sat in on the security briefing at the time. The entire global financial system, which is nothing more than a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme on the world’s strongest steroids, nearly collapsed. Apparently we were days if not hours from it happening. So we opened our treasury and we poured all of our money into the banks to save the world. Too big to fail. What we did in reality was pause the fail. The fail is still coming. Just 100 times worse when it happens.
That leads us to the here and now. With this background recap, maybe you can look around yourself, armed with this honest look back, and begin to see things the way they really are now. How are we doing? Are we being told the truth? Did a one-eyed man steal our money from the treasury as well? Is there one person in government at all we can trust anymore? Do we like each other? Are we working out our differences for the betterment of our society? You can continue that list of questions yourself.
10 years after 9/11. The Statue of Liberty cries as she watches the aftermath.
Gary Wayne Abernathy