September 12th

Half a decade ago today, nearly 3,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in the United States. On that day, millions of Americans re-declared their patriotism; their loyalty to the United States and its commitment to freedom and equality. They did so in recognition of the deaths of the victims of the attacks, and because everyone else was doing it. They decided that on that day their world had changed and that it would bring in a new era of patriotism and American values.

On September 12th though, as many have noted, the country began to change in an entirely new way. No longer were the memories of those victims honored by loyalty to the nation that they died in an attack upon. “A single death is a tragedy, a thousand deaths is a statistic.” As far as most Americans were, and are, concerned, the victims of 9/11 were forgotten, as would be many other deaths, to be replaced by the memory of the day itself.

In the days and months after 9/11, we were told that the world had changed, that our beliefs and ways had to change. No, our lifestyles didn’t have to change to save the ozone layer; no, we didn’t have to carefully consider the subconscious impacts of 9/11 that might result in racism against Arabs; we had to give up our ideas about our rights. We had to give up our freedoms in order to keep us free. And we had to accept the deaths that would be caused by invasions of countries on another continent, the deaths of civilians who had never harmed anyone. We had to respond to the deaths of our civilians by causing the deaths of other civilians. We had to do this to preserve the American way.

Today, five years after we committed to freedom and equality, people want to use racial profiling and tap telephone conversations in violation of one of America’s most important documents, in order to keep us free. We have killed thousands of civilians in response to the attacks that killed thousands of civilians.

Because it’s the American Way.

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