11 September 2003

two years ago right now i was deciding to skip my 11.20 physics class. it was an incredibly beautiful day, just like this one, and as i walked to campus i ran into the director of public safety, lowering the flag by the baseball field all by himself. up on campus, everyone was moving very slowly, the physics class was nearly empty, and parrish parlours was full of shocked-looking folks staring at a TV.

[twenty years ago right now salvador allende was being unlawfully deposed in a coup sponsored by the united states government through the CIA, and the people of chile were about to be subjected to the long and (literally) torturous years of augusto pinochet. i wonder if it was a beautiful day then, too.]

the worst part about september 11 at swarthmore is that we didn't get any time to just feel bad. overactive leftist imaginations immediately started coming up with thoughts about racial profiling, the end of civil liberties, and hawkish, retributive justifications for imperialism. i think most of us understood the depth of the tragedy and the enormity of an attack on civilians, but the immediate ramping up of rhetoric left us nothing to do but react against the disingenuousness of it all.

the worst part about september 11 in 2003 is that all of us who were branded cold-hearted leftists (rather than good patriots who understood that the thing to do was something along the lines of "let's roll!") back then have seen many of our worst fears confirmed. we began an unjustified, pre-emptive war that nevertheless enjoyed, and enjoys, impressive levels of popular support. our civil liberties seem to be hanging by a thin thread. we are asked to sacrifice what is humane (e.g., monies for the social safety net) for what is inhumane ($87 billion for the "war on terror").

seldom have i been more embarrassed of my country -- and at this point, it's time to stop pretending that it's just the administration. the administration has lied unashamedly and repeatedly and craftily, but the people of the united states are not totally innocent; they are not dupes or fools. still, they have, by and large, swallowed the lies of the bush administration without blinking. is it because there's nothing better to believe in? that had better not be the answer.