Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Later--September 11th, 2001

Mark Bingham-
Gay Hero of Flight 93
It's hard to believe that it's been ten long years since September 11th 2001, a fateful day that forever altered the political landscape of this country. Early that Tuesday morning I was awoken by a telephone call from a friend who said, "They just attacked the World Trade Center turn on your TV." This was an incomprehensible statement to me then. First of all I had no concept of a "they" that would fit into this scenario and the idea of attack seemed foreign as well.

But I did turn on my television. My automatic response was to get dressed and head in to work. This was because I was used to working for the Chronicle and that's what we did when something momentous, like an earthquake, happened. We went in to work. But by then, I was working at a public library and librarians, as helpful as we may be, are not considered "first-responders." But my place of work was closed for the day and I wound up returning home.

Like many people, I remained glued to my television for days. Taking in the personal accounts. Reveling in the heroic story of Mark Bingham, an openly gay man who initiated a passenger rebellion on flight 93, preventing it from hitting the Pentagon, but losing his own life (and the lives of everyone aboard) in the process.

It is undeniable that this country was permanently altered as a result of that horrific event. Yes, the loss of life on such a large scale was a terrible tragedy. But sadder still is the fact that this event has been and is repeatedly used as an excuse to justify the elimination of democratic and civil rights on a wide variety of fronts from the "Patriot Act" to Guantanamo. All things considered, it is a day to mourn.

The tragic bombing in Oklahoma City did not make the world afraid of crazed, white-male right wing fanatics as well it should have considering what transpired in January of this year in Tucson Arizona where Gabrielle Giffords was wounded along with 19 others. Only six people died in that incident but the profile of Jared Loughner is strikingly similar to that of Timothy McVeigh. Compare that to the fear of the American Muslim Community that has become a firestorm of hatred in the USA today.

Many friends of mine believe that right-wing elements had a hand in what transpired that Tuesday morning in New York City.I can't claim any inside knowledge of this but I will say that considering the liberties they have taken with our civil rights since, I wouldn't put it past them.

However it came to pass, it is a fact that this event has been and will continue to be used to undermine our rights and freedoms on all fronts. This reality combined with the grief over lives lost that day, deserve our deepest grief as well as our incisive, compassionate and rational attention.