I remember where I was nine long years ago today. My neighbor at the time told me to turn on the tv. I watched the second plane hit, I witnessed people jumping, I saw the buildings fall, live on tv. I feel the poignant grief of that day still.
During the week that followed I noted the silence of the sky, broken only by pairs of F-16s leaving Burlington International on patrol, and returning in regular intervals. The quiet was surreal.
For all of the surreality my life hadn't changed all that much. I had already become accustomed to terror, the loss of innocent American lives, the expectation of death, thanks to a peculiar twist in our Cold War on Drugs.
My world had not changed, but America's had. America as a whole now knew of terror. In some strange and twisted sense I was no longer alone. I was no longer alone, and for that I was glad. I was glad even as I felt an intense grief over the loss of 2977 lives, many of them Americans, and among them the niece of a former coworker, a stewardess just doing her job.
I imagine some portion of her remains still grace that place we call Ground Zero, mingled with the remains of so many others, and thus, in my mind, make it both sacred and holy.
In the weeks that followed I witnessed with tremendous disgust the steadfast refusal of the Airline industry to implement any form of security, and I witnessed the passage of the Patriot Act, a bill so voluminous that there could be no doubt, it had lain in wait in some desk drawer for just such an occasion. I witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, and the investigation into the intelligence lapses that allowed for all of this to take place.
I witnessed the resignation of Louis Freeh, former head of the FBI, in June, 2001.
I witnessed these things and conclude that the event we now know as September 11 was an event we could, and chose not, to prevent. I conclude we did not and this was in theory for the benefit of the greater good, and yet the proposed benefits forming the justification of this sacrifice have, in some instances, been mixed; while in others have most clearly run contrary to the benefit of the nation.
I witness these things and I draw these conclusions and I know there can be no justification.
There can be no justification.
Herein lies the temptation to engage in what cannot be justified. I am tempted to a book burning of my own. I am tempted to engage the irrational, the indefensible outrage of a significant portion of the global population. I am tempted to entice violence and bloodshed, and to do so for nothing less than 'the greater good.'
I am tempted to burn several illuminating texts, the Koran first and foremost among them. I am tempted. To burn the Koran and exclaim that those who would kill Americans because of the act of one American are hypocrites. Those who would kill would do so only because they want to kill, and for no other reason. All else is but an excuse.
I am tempted to burn one illuminating text only to draw attention to other texts, texts written and largely ignored. I am tempted to manipulate the masses, to depend upon the outrage of millions and the bloodshed that may evoke in an effort condemn such manipulation.
To condemn the provocation of violence with a demonstration of the ease with which such provocation may be engineered.
To condemn Human Engineering and Predictive Behavioral Models and the use to which they have been put.
To condemn Accidental Engineering and the deaths that does entail.
And perhaps to see if that promise that was promised by a man who stands in shadow, one who lacks the courage of conviction. might not be kept by one who is a Muslim eager to spill the blood of an American and use the burning of a book to justify his act.
Surrounded by Temptation . . .
September 11, 2010