Monday, September 11, 2006
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday, September 11, 2006
Five years after 9/11: a shifted view of the world
Old allies have become wary of one another, if not openly suspicious. Sensing inattention, small rogue nations may have decided it is time to make trouble. Two wars have begun, and their ends do not yet appear in sight. Less noticed, a quiet empire continues to rise in the East.
The world today is a very different place from the way it was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
In one sense that statement is obvious. Five years is a long time in geopolitics. The world turns, whatever terrorists do.
But half a decade on, it also seems clear that Al Qaeda’s attacks and the US response have helped move the metaphorical tectonic plates of the globe.
Besides direct effects, such as the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the reverberations from 9/11 may include a new general organizing principle for international affairs.
The cold war was about the Western and communist blocs, and their values, conflicts, and internal cracks. The current period is about the US and the Islamic world – their mutual suspicions and occasional cooperation, and the wedge Al Qaeda has tried to drive between them. (CSMonitor)
“In the five years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center when hijackers flew two planes into the twin towers, killing more than 2,700 people New York has made a stirring recovery. Lower Manhattan shows signs of economic renewal and is once again a trendy place to dine; real estate values citywide have soared; the stock market has strengthened; new construction is booming; the overall crime rate is down; ticket sales on Broadway have hit an all-time high; and tourists are flooding the city in record numbers.” The Los Angeles Times
Quite optimistic sounding, but the article actually pertains to how anxiety ridden New Yorkers are 5 years after the attack. The excerpt above stuck out when I read it since it goes against the daily mantra that things will never return to the nice and carefree days before September 11, 2001, and that in order to exist in this day and age we have to live in fear while always looking behind our backs.
Has 9/11 really changed the world as much as we’ve been led to believe? Are we cowering in our basements waiting for the next terrorist attack to occur? Have our liberties been curtailed that much by paraniod governments? Have our economies crumbled in the aftermath of September 11th? I suppose if we’re connected to anyone who was killed in the 9/11 attacks life did change for some. Those of the Islamic faith must feel the impact and inconvenience everytime they pass through airport security. While there were economic consequences which put airlines out of business and put a dent in travel immediately after 9/11 our day to day activities really didn’t change at all.
We still eat out at restaurants, fill our gas tanks with ridiculously priced fuel and we still do all the normal daily things we did 5 years and a day ago. The attack on America was a huge event and its memories will always remain with us for years to come. Are we feeling as fearful as critics are suggesting we are as something orchestrated by the Bush administration? I don’t think so.
There’s an excerpt of Michael Moore’s movie Bowling for Columbine (and you know how much I love Michael Moore) which I think is very nice observation. Its examination of America’s culture of fear as a root cause of gun violence also extends to the higher levels of office. America’s need to have something to be scared of has essentially been the bedrock of its strength since its earliest colonial days. Michael Moore gives an entertaining chronicle of things which have scared the bejezus out of Americans for the past 230 years.
I don’t think it’s just an American thing. Most countries need to fear something in order to keep itself together. Canada has feared the U.S. in the past and continues to do so today. Not too long ago, we were shaking alongside the U.S. and the so called “free world” waiting for the day we’d all be annihilated by Soviet nuclear weapons in the 1980’s. My 9/11 occured in the 5th grade when my music teacher decided to reveal the existence of nuclear weapons pointed at every city in North America. It was the early 1980’s, and that revelation alone freaked me out for years.
No doubt a lot of fifth graders became freaked out 5 years ago today. But like my own introduction to fear of nukes everyone from every generation enters the culture of fear sometime in their lives. 9/11, as horrible and surreal as the film footage and images freaks us all out is just another moment of collosal human tragedy and fear which is repeated over and over and over through the centuries. Something is bound to push the events of 9/11 from our collective memory. Maybe that’s what’s so worrisome. (Random Thots Blog)