I dread it because people use the anniversary to rekindle hate. Today is the 16th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a United Airlines plane crash in rural Pennsylvania. The greatest loss of life was in New York as two fuel laden planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
In total, 2,977 innocent men, women and children were killed in the three attacks that were carried out by 16 Saudi Arabian Nationals, a Lebanese, a UAE Citizen, and an Egyptian. The worst loss of life happened at the World Trade Center where 2753 people died in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
At the Pentagon, 184 people were killed when a plane slammed into the Northwest side of the building. A United Airlines jet crashed into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the passengers tried to retake control of the airplane. There was 40 passengers and crew on that flight.
Those of us who were alive that terrible morning of September 11, 2001, will always remember where we were when we learned of the attacks. At first, I thought there had been a horrible airline accident. I was watching CNN when the second plane struck the South Tower. I knew then it was not an accident.
It was a moment that horrified the nation and the world. It also brought the nation together. For a short time, we weren’t Republicans, we weren’t Democrats, we were just Americans who had to pick ourselves up after the attack.
My Mom was still alive. I spoke with her and she said she hadn’t seen such an outpouring of patriotism and unity since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Flags flew on every house and building. They were hung on overpasses and bridges and for a short while, we were one nation indivisible.
We changed as a nation that day
Some have written that September 11, 2001, is the day America lost her innocence. Our two vast oceans protecting us from a surprise attack by an enemy were of no use on this day. It showed our vulnerability in our defense systems.
A foreign nation would not dare to attack the United States, yet 19 young men armed with box cutters brought a nation to its knees and changed life in America.
In places like Europe and Israel, governments are used to dealing with terrorism. England suffered regular attacks for years from the Irish Republican Army (IRA). We all remember the attacks by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Black September against Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany in 1972. In Israel, terrorism is a regular part of life.
Terrorism was always for something “over there,” and not something for over here. Yet here it was in all its horror being played out on TV. At first, America didn’t know how to react.
A shadowy figure from Afghanistan, Osama bin-Laden, and an organization most Americans had never heard of named Al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attacks. They not only took responsibility, they took delight in an attack on innocent people whose age ranges were from age 2 to 85 years-old.
America learned to hate
America went from mourning our loss to wanting revenge. Despite what happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan, America went to war against the Taliban who controlled that nation. They gave safe harbor to terrorists and a new American foreign policy doctrine was born. Nations that give safe-haven to terrorists are enemies of the state.
Well, not all nations. Most of the terrorists who carried out the attacks were Saudi Citizens. We need Saudi Arabia for strategic reasons, not to mention their oil. They get a pass and do to this day. Saudi Arabia is a hotbed of terrorism. Our Government wants us to believe the ruling family in Saudi Arabia are the targets. Because we support the House of Saud that makes us a target for terror too. That’s a nice theory, but it is only a half-truth.
Our own prejudice came out after 9/11
In some respects, the constant barrage from TV that day 16 years ago gave birth to a national hate movement that is ongoing in America. The aircraft voice recorders picked up the hijackers screaming “Allahu Akbar” just before the airplanes struck their targets. Those recordings were played over, and over, and over to a stunned America. To America, the attacks became religious. They were political attacks and a religion was perverted to get men to die for a political cause.
The phrase “Allahu Akbar” is a phrase that is mostly used in a peaceful context by Muslims. It means “God is Greater,” translated into English. It is not a phrase of hate as Americans believe. Christians often say, “The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.” That isn’t a phrase of hate either. They are similar phrases only in this case a terrorist used the phrase.
The terrorists knew they were about to die. Their religion had been perverted and used to convince them that killing innocent people was a blessed event in the eyes of God. It is sort of like when Christians started the Crusades and killed Arabs and Jews during the Crusades. The Crusades were fought in the name of God too.
Just like with their Christian and Jewish counter parts, terrorism appalls most Muslims. Pew Research Center did an extensive study about Muslims in the USA. Pew’s research supports that statement. Yet Muslims are held in low esteem in America. They are held in somewhat less esteem than atheists according to research by Pew.
It’s an unfair view. Most Muslims in America are no different than the rest of us. A year ago, I wrote about a cowboy friend of mine from Dallas named Ali. Not just an American, he’s a Texan and has fully adopted everything that goes with being a Texan. He just happens to be a Muslim.
I also wrote about Harry Hai, a physician who is a cardiologist and used to have a high-end practice at Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital. Because of his Muslim faith and his dedication to the poor as outlined by his faith, he gave up his practice in Chicago. Harry went to rural Louisiana and opened a heart clinic and was the only cardiologist for a hundred miles around his clinic.
Harry went from caring for some of the richest patients in the world to caring for some of the poorest. He used his own money to open the clinic. There were no grants and he built a Cath Lab at his own expense. Sometimes Harry would be paid in eggs, or chickens, and often with a smile of gratitude and a thank-you. It was fine with Harry. He was doing what is right in the eyes of his religion.
Muslims are our healers, and engineers, and accountants, and every other occupation America offers. They should be our friends and neighbors who we build bridges to and not people we disparage. In the cases where American Muslims have turned to homegrown terrorism, the majority of those who carried out the acts cited their treatment in America as a reason they chose terror.
Let’s not make 9/11 a memorial to hate.
Candidate Donald Trump was fond of saying that President Barack Obama couldn’t even form the words “Islamic Terrorism.” The fact President Obama couldn’t speak the words is because “Islamic terrorism” is a term that appeals to bigotry and it is not true.
When the KKK burns a cross does anyone refer to the act as “Christian Terrorism”? That is a Christian symbol after all. In fact, the KKK hates all who are not white and Protestant. Why not call them “Christian terrorists?” It is using the same logic as “Islamic terrorism.”
We should remember 9/11. We should remember it to honor those who died. We should also use the day to remind ourselves that hate in the name of God is wrong. We should be reminded that stereotyping an entire group of people makes us barbaric too.
We should welcome all who mourn that awful day in 2001 including the innocent Muslims living in the USA as good citizens who were especially hurt that day. Their pain is ongoing due to the bigotry they suffer as a result of the attacks.
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