Dear President Biden,
At some point during the eons when he was befouling the Oval Office, I told your predecessor about where we were the morning of 9/11. Although I feel like I’m repeating myself, I’ll share those details with you since we just had our first Biden era 9/11.
We were on our way to my mom’s in Portland with our 9-month-old baby girl after spending a few days at Cannon Beach. We’d stopped at the petting zoo in Tillamook before the long (for a baby…) drive to Portland. I don’t remember which cute young animals we were ogling when the news reached us from the gift shop that the Twin Towers had been hit by airplanes. Of course we immediately joined the handful of people listening to the radio inside, waiting to hear whether this was some sort of drill or Orwellian play and not some real horror. Well, of course, it was the latter.
In the car heading to Portland on the suddenly jammed highway, I remember crying and alternately wondering if the person in the car next to us might have lost someone in the attacks and thinking about Desert Storm and all the other violence we’d already inflicted on the Middle East that surely contributed to the motivations for the attacks.
You see, we like to think of ourselves as righteous, blameless victims in all of this, but nothing could be further from the truth. We sowed those 9/11 seeds and we watered them and we ultimately harvested their foul fruit (to paraphrase GW’s “foul spirit” framing). Here’s how I see it: 1) we’ve collectively gotten very accustomed to sowing, watering, and fertilizing imperialistic seeds; 2) before 9/11 we hadn’t experienced much direct retribution for such horrible deeds; 3) we’ve generally been kept ignorant of our malign actions, making it easy for “the government” (and its corporate over lords) to act all surprised and righteous when we’re finally attacked on American soil. All of this, in turn, paved the path to our 20-year Afghanistan and Iraq wars wherein we delivered loads of direct retribution and made billions for the warmongers.
When I attempted to float just a smidgeon of this reasoning in the chat at church yesterday during a politically charged truth-telling sermon, other clergy folks redirected to something about the path of peace.
Before I sign off, I want to register a fuss at Jennifer Rubin, who’s WP editorial is linked above regarding the “foul spirit” deal. She lauded GW’s statements on 9/11 about how the Jan. 6th insurrection was carried out by domestic terrorists and then she went on to talk about how no POTUS could have gotten away with what DJT did if the Jan. 6th people had been foreign. Although she’s obviously correct about this, I don’t think it’s a useful observation. It would have been far more helpful had she said that if the Jan 6th insurrectionists had been Black, not only would no POTUS have gotten away with defending their actions (nor the GOP lemmings), but all such insurrectionists would have been annihilated on the spot. The latter isn’t a new idea at all, but we need to be reminded over and over again how, in the US, violent White people get away with shit that no one else can get away with.
Of course I don’t want anyone acting like that, but it was beyond bizarre that she kept going on about how crazy it would be for DJT and GOP members to be apologists for foreign terrorists when the elephant in our living room is White supremacy and pernicious racism. When Black people and their allies gather for peaceful protest – not trying to take over The Capitol or anything else – we send out militarized police forces that terrorize them.
We are so deeply messed up.
May we all be safe.
May we all be willing to get real about how messed up we are.
May we have the strength to face what must be faced.
May we accept that the damn filibuster has to go.