Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can September 11 Finally Belong to the People?

For much of the past 10 years, commemorations of the September 11 attacks have been jammed through a political prism, and what's come out is not a rainbow but a muddled, hazy gray light that mixes fear, sadness and trepidation.

Today, I think we've finally found a way to get some color out of that prism. It will not be a bright light, but rather, the warmer glow of true compassion and a ray of hopeful sunshine.

The tragedy that was perpetrated on the United States became an immediate political conundrum that was unfortunately used to stoke suspicion and charges of treason in anyone who dared to oppose the measures taken by the Bush Administration in its aftermath. This included the Patriot Act and the dual invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter under the false pretense that Saddam Hussein had connections with the Al Qaeda plotters. In the presidential elections of 2004 and 2008, the right raised the specter of immediate terrorist attacks if Democrats were elected, and even went so far as trying to link Barack Hussein Obama with groups who wanted to do us harm. It was made worse by Democrats who demonized Bush as a modern day dictator who used his power beyond constitutional bounds to serve his political agenda.

The cost was great, but now I think we've turned a corner in our use of September 11 as a club with which to beat political opponents. The drawdown of troops from Iraq, the planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden have gone a long way towards tempering the partisan feelings surrounding today and I could certainly see a scenario where it will become almost a non-issue in 2012 unless, heaven forbid, we are attacked again.

September 11, like all commemorations, should belong solely to the people as a day of remembrance. We will not likely bar politics or politicians from the day completely, but with the opening of the memorial in New York and the promise of one in Pennsylvania, the day is fast approaching when we can truly focus completely on the human cost of the attacks.

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