Those who actually care will be recounting where they were on 9-11. (I was in drama class my senior year of high school. They wheeled in the TV on a cart and we all stared in silence, unable to understand what was happening). Some people will tell offensive jokes, others will get all bent out of shape.
I’ll be laughing and living my life as usual, but there will be a good portion of today used for reminding my children of what 9-11 is and what it was like when it happened.
It’s difficult explaining to those who were born after the towers fell just how much it changed us as a people. In the 80s and 90s we were just getting to that sweet spot, that point where diversity and inclusion organically happened on a mass scale. Black TV shows and movies were hitting the mainstream. We had Sister Sister and Moeisha. Latinos and Asians were getting more love in the arts and sharing their experiences.
Maybe some of my perception is rose tinted, but the past doesn’t lie. Go back and read books from that era, watch the cheesy old films, they didn’t shove identity politics down our throats but offered more options for minorities. Neo-feminists scream about how women are portrayed in all forms of media nowadays, claiming that we never had enough role models but the 80s and 90s were full of kick-ass women like Sara Conner, Ripley, Charlie Baltimore, and Billie Jean.
Then the towers fell.
I want to say it didn’t change us. That the terrorists (or the government-if you believe in conspiracy theories) didn’t change us, but they did.
Tribalism became the norm. Once more people were subconsciously dividing themselves by race, religion, gender; anything they could to feel “safe.” My mom stopped flying and freaked out when I hopped a plane less than a year later.
Droves of Americans gave up certain liberties for the illusion of “safety” because we had never experienced anything like the attack on the twin towers, the pentagon, and the attempt on the white house. Sound familiar?
Fear is the worst weapon.
I was taught that when compromised like that your life is forfeit and you must fight no matter what the cost. I’m half Irish. We don’t just sit back and watch our rights get taken away. We fight how we can and also have a sense of humor about it.
The government overreach, privacy right’s violations, and policies that allow our government to imprison people without a fair trial are all elements of life that I will never condone. Memes that mock it all have their place in politics because they are the expression that keeps certain freedoms alive.
Just like our right to tell off-color, unwoke jokes, and piss off the internet mobs. The mob mentalities of today were sparked from the division that resurfaced on 9-11.
It was like we were reset back into the 50s. Suddenly “progressive parents” were afraid of your Muslim best friend.
We had no one to blame but ourselves. I was ostracized plenty of times for not taking it seriously enough and just going on as I always had. To me that is the best tribute to the people who lost their lives. Who are we as a people if we just give up our convictions and change our society because of one tragedy? Many countries deal with these kinds of attacks on a regular basis. There is always a war raging somewhere on the planet. I was well-aware of this and felt grateful that these occurrences were rare for us.
Call me blind. An optimist. Whatever.
Now I see how the people who don’t remember life before 9-11 are reacting in major cities. Looting and rioting, and burning buildings down during “Fiery, but mostly peaceful protests.” That headline says it all. It’s not satire, believe it or not. Our media is blind, our colleges are naive, and we have fallen prey to everything that was plotted on this day 19 years ago.
We now have segregation movements coming back. That’s nuts. We now have people attacking anyone who tries to uphold the ideologies of MY personal hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, because they wish to justify violence and crime in the name of “equality.”
Damn have we changed.
We have regressed.
The positivity of the 80s and 90s was real. When Mathew Shepard was murdered for being gay, the country banned together to mourn that loss and work to make sure violence against minorities was not accepted, because we were finally getting it all truly together.
That really happened and we can do it again. With real peace and real love and real respect for each other: rich or poor, young or old, dark or light skinned, and pineapple pizza lovers or cheese only people.
Everyone I know knows someone who was killed or injured in 9-11. That’s how far this reaches. It was a tragedy, but the people lost didn’t know they’d be sacrificed. They just went to work like any of us. Today is the perfect day to continue on and laugh and smile and annoy each other in honor of that simple similarity.
I’ll be here writing at my desk, mocking the mainstream media’s bullshit as usual. I will think of the people who laughed and breathed and died as I will someday. And I will continue to love everyone no matter what they look like or where they come from knowing that they may hate me for it.