On 9/11 I was scheduled to be working at Century Movie Theaters in Sacramento. My father had woken me up when the first plane hit, and I watched the second hit live on TV. I was 17 years old.
I remember going to work later just to stand around with my co-workers until midnight with nothing to do. Less than thirty people went to the movies that day.
We were mostly kids, teens and twenties, stupid, etc. We stood around talking about whether this meant war, or if it was a sign of the end times; freaking out over the lack of planes and helicopters in the air. There were so few that it was easy to watch satellites move through the sky. I’ve never seen that happen since, and the number of satellites back then was puny compared to now.
I remember when the the drums of war started beating.
I remember how angry we were to have been attacked, how much angrier we were to have our friends and family sent to die for it.
Myself and the kids I worked with, the majority of us were born working-class poor. It was our brothers, cousins, neighbors that were enlisting to go die in the desert. And you know what? At the time, when it happened, even two, three years afterwards, going to war and getting the guys who took so many people from their families seemed like a good idea. A just and righteous thing. I still think it was.
But the drums have never stopped.
We didn’t stop with Bin Laden, suddenly Saddam was a thing, when 15 of the 19 terrorist attackers were from Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was from Saudi Arabia. Bush flew Bin Laden’s family out of America to Saudi Arabia the day of the attacks. But Iraq, we had to go there, because terrorism.
I don’t think our parents generation expected us to be so savvy on the uptake. But, we were armed not only with the skepticism that a generation raised by an entire generation of narcissists possess, we also had the internet.
Using chat rooms, forums, and blogs, we shared our discontent, voiced our theories, and took down the mainstream media. There were those of us on the democrat side, and those of us on the republican, and our battles were fierce. The fighting over facts and information was fierce, scarily so. Suddenly the old guys in suits speaking to our parents the soothing tones of intellectual justifications got kneecapped.
The bloggers took out Dan Rather. The bloggers swift boated Kerry. The bloggers exposed the lack of WMDs in Iraq, as well as the movement of WMDs from Iraq into Syria.
Anyone paying attention to the blogs learned quickly that what was being said to the public and what was actually going on were not the same. Everyone was lying. Everyone. Even our government.
I don’t think is a coincidence that reality TV shows flooded the airwaves of both network and cable TV in the decade following 9/11.
Post 9/11 it also became apparent to my generation that what we think, what we want, matters absolutely not at all to the powers in charge in this country. Being a Democrat or a Republican still got you fucked in the ass. In the election cycles following the tragedy records of young voters registering (that was us) were being set right alongside record numbers of us were not voting.
Then, Barack Obama happened for the first time. That was us. We totally did that. Some of us (like me) were standing in front of that train screaming “STOP!” b ut the chance to be “part of history” and “be heard” to “make a difference” was an elixir that too many otherwise intelligent people swallowed.
The second time he won was made possible by a suddenly stronger mainstream media using all of it’s resources to decide what was relevant. The newness of blogging and independent journalism having worn off made it possible for the old school to close ranks. Suddenly nobody was talking about the verified voter fraud, the rampant threats and tampering, the blatantly illegal donation practices.
The elites having made the rules, excused themselves from them.
Now we don’t get straight talk about the tens of thousands dying in the middle east in the wake of ISIS. It’s been going on for over five years now, but the average american didn’t find out until just this year.
We don’t talk about the drone war we’re waging while Obama says the war is over.
We don’t talk about the weapons we gave ISIS so they’d take out whats-his-face in Syria.
We don’t talk about how we have the blood of all those innocents on our hands, a responsibility to those lost to the monster we created, we fed, we bred, we turned lose on the world.
The drums still beat.
I don’t believe that the folks who died on 9/11 wanted those of us they left behind stuck in an endless war that just magically keeps creating a new enemy to fight. I don’t think they wanted their children to grow up surrounded by paranoia and group think. I don’t think the soldiers who died over there wanted those of us here surrendering our rights to be free again and again in the name of safety.
I don’t think what has came out of 9/11 is worth the vengeance we started out seeking.