You might think you know what I’m about to write, but chances are that you are wrong. The terrorists didn’t win because they killed thousands of innocent people, they didn’t win because Bin Laden got away, and they didn’t win because we are mired down in a war that we never should have been in. These are all factors but they don’t constitute the victory.
The victory came when the American people reacted like predictable assholes and demanded revenge. The victory came when Americans took the goodwill of other nations and turned it to bitterness and disdain. The victory came when the United States decided to abandon the concept of justified war in favor of preemptive war. The victory came when America chose a course that would cause untold death, destroy lives, and give legitimacy to a handful of extremist murderers.
On the day after 9/11, I saw my countrymen turn from shock to rage. I saw ignorance and hatred and xenophobia raise their heads. I watched violence wash over the soul of my country. I stenciled my bed sheets with the message…”No retaliation. Enough have died. Feed them into submission. Drop bread not bombs” or something similar and hung them beside busy roadways in normally peaceful and left leaning Portland, Oregon. Then I watched and cried as motorists pulled over and ripped my sheets to shreds. The news was filled with threats to Muslims all over the country. I saw a woman freak out when she found some Thai Baht in a phonebooth. She called 911 and said she had found some terrorist money!
I saw mainland America awash in American flags that more than anything represented a collective desire for revenge and genocide. I knew what would happen. I knew we would invade Afghanastan and Iraq. I knew we would kill countless thousands of innocent people way out of proportion to those we had lost. I knew we had lost.
America is dying and the death began on 9/11. It was the day the terrorists proved that America was made up of petty people and that her ideals were only so much rhetoric. The 9/11 attacks were disgusting and horrid, but not as disgusting and horrid as the reaction of what was once called ‘the greatest country.’