When airplanes flew into the Twin Towers, I was in Boston, visiting a friend at Tufts University. I watched the tragedy unfold on TV, the whole time thinking “my friends must be freaking out right now.” I couldn’t return to Manhattan for several days, but when I did, my shuttle bus brought me to Brooklyn, and I had to take the D-train onto the island. From the Brooklyn Bridge I saw the smoldering rubble, plumes of smoke where the towers once stood. For a few moments I was the one “freaking out”…
Fast forward ten years and the wounds are still fresh. United States soldiers have toppled the Hussein regime in Iraq. They’ve assassinated Osama Bin Laden, the man who claimed responsibility for the attacks on 9/11. And they’re stamping out the Taliban across Afghanistan and the Muslim world. Yet Americans continue to live in fear. Just two days ago the mainstream media reported a credible but not confirmed terrorist threat to New Yorkers—of course, on the eve of the ten year anniversary of 9/11.
When will we turn the page on 9/11? It’s possible that this chapter in American history may close when military operations end in Afghanistan. But it’s also possible that the symbol of the Towers collapsing will serve as a call for perpetual war. Think about it: All terrorist threats nowadays are credible, and they need not be confirmed for the U.S. to mobilize its forces. Plus terrorism’s been defined as an “asymmetrical threat”—not your typical rogue nation-state. Who will stop the U.S. from fighting an amorphous enemy?
As Americans mourn the victims of the 9/11 attacks, they must take a few moments to think about what the country has done in their names. The culprits have paid the price. Perhaps it’s time to call for an end to war. Otherwise the U.S. will kill thousands more, and many of them will be innocent civilians like those they commemorate today.