On September 11, terrorists not only killed 2,996 Americans, they recreated America, turning our world permanently upside down.
When the British surrendered at Yorktown, myth long held that that the assembled British fifes and drums played a popular song called The World Turned Upside Down:
If buttercups buzz’d after the bee,
If boats were on land, churches on sea,
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows,
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse,
If the mamas sold their babies
To the gypsies for half a crown;
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.
Although it’s probable that this never happened, it made sense: The mightiest country in the world suffered defeat at the hands of its own rag-tag revolutionaries. The world was upside down, indeed!
We Americans got a renewed taste of the world turning upside down on September 11, 2001, although this time we weren’t on the victorious end of that turning wheel. For us, it was a break-point, or hinge point, in history . . . and unlike our Revolutionary War, nothing good came out of it.
Over the years, I’ve written repeatedly published the memorial posts I wrote for Lt. Brian Ahearn, Lauren Catuzzi, and Rick Rescorla. After all these years of reading my own words, in addition to actually knowing Lauren, I sometimes confuse myself and believe, for just a moment, that I knew Brian Ahearn and Rick Rescorla as well. I didn’t, of course, but I wish I had.
This year, though, I’m not going to republish those memorial posts, although if you haven’t read about those three people who died on that day you should. Each showed exceptional, instinctive bravery in the face of a cataclysmic event that, as of September 10, 2001, was entirely out of the realm of possibility for any American then living. Instead, I’d like to talk a little about how that day turned our world upside down, a world that has never since righted itself. This is just my short list — the things I remember early in the morning on the seventeenth September 11 since that dreadful day, so please feel free to use the comments to add to the list.
We have been engaged in a “hot” war, as opposed to a “cold” war, for eighteen years, making it far and away the longest war in American history. Ironically, though, because of the nature of modern warfare, it is the least deadly war. Likewise, because of the nature of modern medicine, it has produced an unprecedented percentage of American veterans with prosthetic limbs. One of these veterans lost all four of his limbs and made an amazing laugh ’til you cry video I urged my kids to watch. Both refused.
Air travel, never pleasant, became one of the worst aspects of modern life thanks to heightened security programs of dubious benefit, but constant frustration and humiliation.
I was always afraid of flying; I’ve been terrified for the last 18 years (although I still fly everywhere and often).
Everyday, without fail, if I happen to glance at my digital clocks (and all my clocks are digital), at eleven minutes past 9:00, morning or evening, I get depressed.
The Iraq War sparked an anti-war movement that provided the perfect fuel for the socialism that the Left, after WWII, began planting in America’s educational institutions. I seriously doubt that, without the original platform of the anti-war movement, the Left would have gained the power it now has.
Thanks to Leftism’s ascendance, Islam, instead of becoming a religion that did some serious soul-searching, became a protected class.
And then there are all the specific awfuls that it’s impossible to imagine having happened without the trigger of 9/11. I go Biblical in my attempt to describe the cause and effect chain:
9/11 begat the Iraq War;
which begat the anti-War movement;
which begat President Barack Obama;
which begat so many bad things, including the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, ISIS, the elevation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the murder of the loathsome (but stable) Qaddafi turning Libya into a giant terrorism compound, the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans including an ambassador, the climb-down before Iran which saw us funding Iran’s worldwide terrorism and nuclear program, and the Syrian Civil War;
all of which begat hyper-instability across the Muslim Middle East and Africa;
which begat a mass movement from those areas to enter Europe to which the execrable and powerful Angela Merkel responded with a resounding “yes”;
which begat the breakdown of a European Europe;
which begat popular uprisings in all those countries;
which has been begetting and will further beget the increased risk of civil wars as transnational European elites, insulated from the horrors of unlimited Islamic immigration, refuse to bow to the will of their beleaguered people;
Meanwhile, back to the election of President Barack Obama,
which begat the eight year stagnation of the American economy and the ruling class’s utter disdain for struggling, often white, Americans;
which begat Donald Trump’s election;
which begat America’s first attempted coup;
which is begetting the possibility that the American constitutional system will be irreparably broken.
As I said, 9/11 was a hinge-point, and not in a good way.
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