[. . .]

The tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks is a depressing thing. Relatives and friends were lost in and as a result of the attack. These people are missed. And communally there are many lost opportunities that passed by in the time afterward. These are reminders of both how much and how little agency humans have. Ten years after we still have to ask ourselves if we found “justice” for these attacks — did the two large and costly wars bring Americans closer to that objective? Are our government structures and intelligence services more rational? Did we respond to the attacks justly and rationally (as opposed to “understandably given the circumstances”)? Has the country moved beyond “Suck. On. This.“? Certainly, some would like to pretend we have. We often say that 9/11 brought out the best in America and Americans; there is some truth to this. The articles in the middle-brow papers and periodicals commemorating the tenth anniversary are more sober than those in years past, likely a result of the misery of the financial crisis and the fanaticism running amok in the Congress. This is notable. Your blogger heard a commentator challenge the cliche that “9/11 changed everything”; indeed, it changed somethings but major national trends — hyper-partisanship, living beyond our means, widening income inequality, the erosion of quality public education, sectarianism, hostility toward science, an inflated sense of national purpose (“American exceptionalism”), etc., etc. have continued unabated by the sense of unity that came in the wake of the atrocity. (There is the addition of moral panic, though, around terrorism and Muslims.) This was interesting to hear. It is time to remove the blinders and think clearly and cooly. Perhaps that time was actually five or seven years ago; but given where things stand in America (and how people behave generally) it seems “now” is always the time to adjust course and behave more reasonably and rationally.