As I reflect on the last 20 years, I am more than disheartened and ashamed about what our nation has become. The moment that the first plane hit, what we thought as our worst fear occurred. Attack from the outside. An attack by those that have, for years, screamed “Death to America”. The attack was meant for the three biggest symbols of American Superiority in the world: our financial status, our military strength, and our seat of freedom. Two of those got hit. The latter was saved by brave American citizens that said “not on my watch”. True American domestic heroes lost their lives, along with the innocent that day. But what came from it in the terms of American brotherhood, love of neighbor, and the American Spirit only lasted for a moment.
President Bush did the right thing in going after those that were committed to bring America to her knees. As well as those that aided them. But in doing so, he placed this nation into the same category as those we have always sworn to fight and defeat. He curtailed civil liberty for a sense of protection. Founding father Benjamin Franklin said that a person who gives up civil liberty for security, deserve neither. How prophetic that statement was.
Both Patriot Acts diminished civil liberties. It brought an allowance to the NSA to eavesdrop without warrants on whom they wished, created free speech zones, and allowed some forms of non-allowance of Constitutional protections. All in the name of security. He then allowed the CIA to run black ops detainment, transferred captives to foreign nations for torture, and failed to conform to the Geneva Convention and international law. We have seen this in Abu Grhaib prison and Gitmo. For those who do not know about the Geneva Convention or international law during war: enemy combatants (the enemy) when captured are to be given quarter, treated with human rights, and not tortured. We became that which have always fought.
President Obama fared little better. Promise after promise were broken on the war front. His failure to approval to close Gitmo and transfer those held into any type of court. And because of his judgments and the end of the Iraq war, Al Qaeda came back stronger as the Islamic State. He did keep the promise to eliminate the 9/11 mastermind.
On the home front, he helped the nation weather the financial crash. Many did not agree with how it was done, but by the end of his term, the economy was back on an upswing. A big issue in his administration was domestically. While anti-Islam sentiment started because of 9/11, he also ended up feeling the bite of it. He suffered for two reason from those that opposed him. The first was his name and the fact he was raised in a predominately Muslim nation. But that needs to be placed where it was rightful to do so, his mother’s love for the men she married. The second was the color of his skin. From the beginning of his campaign and through the end of his second term, he face faced some rightful criticism. But he also faced a hatred no other president had. Solely, because of these two things.
In comes President Trump. A businessman that had no business in the top elected position of this nation. His decisions only inflamed the nation. For those on the liberal side of political thought, he placed a ban on all Muslims and Islamic nation from US entry. Including Muslim Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, refugees, etc. He then further inflamed the liberal society by attacking immigrants that weren’t predominately European. Going so far as calling all Latinos as murders, drug dealers and rapists. And yes, while a few may have slipped through the cracks, the majority were seeking what all those that have come to this nation have sought: freedom from fear and death. He even attacked DACA recipients. You know, those that were either born or brought here without proper paperwork through no real choice of their own.
He also inflamed the right. he brought out underlying prejudices and hates that, while always present, were kept dormant for the most part. But his rhetoric of distrust of the minority communities brought to a head, clashes between the left and the right of our society in ways that have not been seen since the civil rights marches. He called members of extreme militias and white power racists good people. Seriously? His four years became more of a dystopian surrealistic nightmare that even George Orwell hadn’t seen coming. His rhetoric (speeches, tweets, etc) had brought back in force, what we as a nation thought was about gone.
I do not condone the extreme riots of places like Ferguson, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Nor do I condone the violence of places like Baltimore. The extremes on both sides were fed one way or the other into becoming what they did. Violent and extreme radical terrorists. Those communities had a reason for their discontent, a desire to see the end of an oppressive system that saw their members getting wrongly executed. And yes, before you crucify me for being ‘woke’ (I’m a realist with a brain and the ability to research), I believe that a person has a right to plead their case in court for any alleged crime. And a non-violent traffic stop or a non-confrontational issue is NOT a reason for someone to lose their life. Different minorities still face oppressive issues that will not be dealt with until two things happen. The first is this, both sides need to learn to shut up and listen to the reasons for discontent. The second is that the violent actions need to cease because the message gets lost in the violence. And while it was starting to rear its head in the Obama administration, that dragon came full force and spewing fire in the Trump administration. Why? Because Trump was, and is, an opportunist that has the ability to read people and play them for his benefit. It worked in business, it worked in television, and the last few years has shown that it worked in politics.
From calling the election as stolen, before the election had even occurred, to the speech that fired up the crowd just before they did the unthinkable. They listened to his rhetoric, used it to boost their own inaccuracies and prejudices and attacked the seat of the political process. Even, at times, calling for Vice President to be brought out to be executed. Like I said, even Orwell didn’t see it this bad. We won’t even talk about his actions and coercion of the masses, or their inability to actually research the science of the pandemic themselves. And we continually fight this ignorance even now.
President Biden, in his first year (so far) has made an error or two. The issues of mandates and vaccinations to curb the virus isn’t once of them. The biggest is without doubt, the ending of the war in Afghanistan. I’ll put this out there, we needed out of that situation. In withdraws, he made the right decision in deciding to leave. How he did it, is properly in question. However, not all of it is his fault. Trump, in his last year of office, negotiated with the enemy Taliban leadership. Going as far as to push other nations into releasing certain key members of the ruling Taliban cadre. He set an inoperable time frame for with draw that Biden had to extend. Yes, mistakes were made. Horrible ones. But, Biden allowed the blame of it all to rest squarely on his shoulders. Something his predecessor never would have done.
The last two decades have brought out the best and the worst in this nation. But the worst has steamrolled the best into a small speck of time. I love my country. And most of the citizenry here are honest, hard working, and generally speaking are honorable. But those that aren’t get the media coverage and the rhetoric. We are better than this. While we still have a way to go on many issues, given the chance, we will get those dealt with as well.
May the souls of those lost on 9/11 and since find the peace they didn’t find on this rock. To the heroes that lived and those that sacrificed all on that dark day 20 years ago……Thank you for showing what the American Spirit is about. For those that fought and those who never made it home, our nation owes you so much for answering the call to duty.
May God once again bless this nation.