9/11: Some Reflections
(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 9/12/01 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Click on image to enlarge. Come back here.)
Let me begin by noting this is not how I remember Mike Luckovich's cartoon the day after 9/11. That may be because that part of my memory is slowly being burned away, or it may be because the Atlanta Journal Constitution decided years later to save that cartoon by scanning a portion of it for posterity. Either/or, it still is a powerful image for me. Back then I wasn't blogging, nor was I following blogs from the big guys. I was watching television, primarily CNN, and they had Mike on to explain the cartoon and how he came to draw it. That sucked me in as far as political cartoons go. While I've only been recently inflicting my love for political cartooning on my blog visitors, I've been following that genre ever since.
So, here we are, eleven years later, and that image still haunts me. At first, the images of the planes headed for the Twin Towers in Lady Liberty's eyes grabbed me. Now, however, it is the tear rolling down her face that choked me up once I found the image on the 'net. That was prescient, as art often is, however unintentional.
While I know, rationally, that we were primed for everything that has happened since 9/11, on that date the ball emerged from the murky clouds to become more visible. George W. Bush made it clear that he intended to be a "war president" before his election, and fulfilled that promise in a way I hadn't anticipated. We now know that his new administration had been warned from the start that Al Qaeda intended to attack this nation (as late as 8/6/01 -- my birthday), but he shined the warnings on, apparently believing that even if it happened, it would be no big deal: he still would go after his intended target, Iraq.
Oh, yes, he declared war on Afghanistan, invoking NATO rules so as to get other nations involved, and then ignored that war for years while he sent troops to another country to secure their oil for our nation and to make our defense contractors (and their cheerleader-in-chief, Dick Cheney) wealthier. Thousands of our troops died, thousands more were grievously wounded in body and soul. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths later, we exited. Those Iraqis are still dying because of our meddling. And that war was justified on lies.
Our national leadership decided that international rules didn't apply to the US anymore. We were the only superpower. So we ignored the Geneva Conventions we had signed and engaged in renditions, black prisons, torture of all prisoners in those black prisons and in acknowledged prisons such as Guantanamo Bay. Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and water boarding entered our lexicon. Due process exited.
And due process didn't just exit for foreign prisoners, it exited. Period. Along with other constitutionally guaranteed rights. The Patriot Acts, including all of its iterations passed with little if any discussion. Our emails, our telephone calls, even our library habits were opened up to the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Defense Department and we had no recourse. We cannot even board a plane without removing our shoes and subjecting ourselves to revealing x-rays. Our internet habits are tracked easily. Local police departments now have drones to track our every move.
Yes, we lost a lot on 9/11, but I have to tell you, I can't blame all of that on Obama bin Laden.