Our own worst enemy
by Josh Bashara
September 10, 2002
"Nine-eleven," we conveniently call it. Like it's a little quip, or a code word.
No, we couldn't refer to it with something as accurate as "The terrorist attacks of New York City and the Pentagon." That would be far too long and time-consuming for the media and not nearly slick-sounding enough for the public.
Our two-word (sometimes merely two-digit) phrasing of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, epitomizes the true American spirit. It's this spirit, this embodiment of the American way of life that has handed victory to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden no matter if they are all dead, alive, in hiding or on the run.
For example, bin Laden became a household name over the last year. The ideals he and the al-Qaeda group, along with many other fanatical terrorist organizations such as the Hezbollah and Hamas, have increased tenfold within the American public, mainly because of media over-saturation and "exclusive special reports."
This in itself is a huge accomplishment for all like-minded terrorist factions around the globe. One of the main objectives when using terror as a weapon is to inform people of something they previously knew nothing about.
And where is bin Laden now? I rarely hear his name in the news at all anymore, as if now that everyone's vengeful spirit has fallen back asleep, we forget what it was that we were so furious about in the first place.
Bin Laden was just a character for us -- a symbol of evil when the American people needed one to vent frustration and anger.
Ethnocentricity runs deep within the American people, perhaps even more so than any other country in the world. We were shocked beyond belief that such a thing could happen to us, while the casualties themselves were minuscule compared to the bloodshed and horror other nations deal with on a yearly basis. Just the other day, news reports came in from all across the globe that a car bomb had been detonated in Kabul, killing 25 people. Afghan officials hastily blamed the al-Qaeda for the attack.
Do we mourn these 25 civilians, who are neither the first nor the last to fall victim to an attack in another nation? No, it makes a 30-second news spot on CNN and everyone in America could really care less.
And we wonder why the rest of the world never seemed quite as appalled and shocked by the New York and Pentagon attacks as we were.
We are a global minority and it's something we ought not forget when questioning the whys and hows of the New York terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, the American way of life moved on, fittingly in character.
Money is made by capitalizing on the death the World Trade Center victims, as seen in commemorative books and videos. "Hero" is America's new favorite word, being used in dozens of new Top 40 songs and even being the promotional theme in this summer's Spider-man movie.
The anniversary of Sept. 11 will see an almost circus-like display of events and media coverage, while people will be complaining that they didn't get the day off work.
Proof that we live in a society where patriotism is a commodity bought and sold: "'United We Stand' items 50 percent off!" I saw advertised on a marquee sign outside a gas station last weekend. Sometimes I really wonder if I'm alone in my disheartened view of our future.
In all my life I have never felt so disgusted to be an American than I have over the past year.
President Bush got the war Clinton never had -- the one that will most likely get him reelected back into the Oval Office. Capitalistic greed has taken the public for millions of dollars worth of "Sept. 11 tribute" garbage and red, white and blue trinkets. Our economy is faltering in part by our own resident terrorists, the ivory-tower-sitting CEOs of big business.
Ethnic minorities get chastised worse than ever before and the public is turning against itself via ignorance and President Bush's new "TIPs" program.
And you can bet that wherever bin Laden is -- dead and in the arms of Allah or hiding in some god-forsaken cave somewhere -- he is looking at the United States of America and grinning ear to ear.
He knew all along that he merely needed to start the cycle. We could handle the rest.