This past weekend Americans remembered the tragedy of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On that day thousands of American citizens were senselessly and heinously murdered by Al-Qaeda terrorists in the deadliest attack on Americans in history. While this, in itself, is tragic, it is not the true tragedy of September 11th. Not to belittle the memories of those lost in this atrocious act, but the real tragedy of September 11th is that the deaths of those people was (and continues to be) used as an excuse to erode the freedoms and liberties that millions of Americans have fought, and bled, and died to protect over the past 200-plus years.
Does anyone remember life before September 11, 2001? Do you remember due process of law? Do you remember being able to travel without being subjected to intrusive searching and unwarranted seizure of personal property?
Over the course of the past eight years America has surrendered to terrorism on an unprecedented scale. We have allowed the fear of such an attack being repeated to be used as justification for surrendering every value we claim to hold dear. In the name of security we have allowed our government to invade two foreign countries and to illegally detain and torture foreign nationals, spitting in the face of every ideal we cherish as a free people. We have enacted ridiculous legislation such as the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that institutionalize violations of personal privacy and freedoms that would make our Founding Fathers rise out of their graves and foment a new American Revolution.
What is the tragedy of September 11th? In short, the tragedy is that in one brutal moment a small group of terrorists destroyed the United States of America. The ideals of freedom, liberty, and self-determination that spawned the creation of our nation have been undermined at every level. The worst part is that it wasn’t just the actions of our government, hidden in prisons in countries with names I don’t want to even try to pronounce. We’re not talking about covert operations of questionable legality. What we are talking about is the wholesale surrender of American society. As a people we made the decision to surrender to fear, and to allow that fear to be manipulated.
As we look back at September 11th and we mourn those among us who lost their lives, ask yourself if we are truly honoring their memories. Would you want your tribute to be that your death was used as an excuse to shred the Constitution for political gain?