Op-Ed by Brandon Turbeville
Although it was nearly twenty years ago, I can remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I remember the shock of hearing about the planes crashing into towers, at first believing it was a tragic accident and quickly learning it to be otherwise. I remember being told that 19 hijackers, part of a fundamentalist plot to destroy America, were behind the attacks and that the mastermind was a man in a cave in Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden.
As all of America was glued to their television screens, many rushed out to give blood in an effort to at least do something to help one another. George W. Bush’s answer for Americans was to go to work and then go out and shop. Americans dutifully complied. But the government’s answer, in tandem with mainstream media, was also to be afraid. Very afraid. Americans also complied with this request, perhaps more than any other.
In the days and weeks after the initial shock, a college professor informed me about a bill called the PATRIOT ACT that would essentially eviscerate much of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. After class, I questioned him further about the bill, which he explained, and suggested that if I really wanted to understand what was happening, I should read 1984 by George Orwell. I went home and did just that and was surprised to learn that not only was he right, but that I was watching what I was reading happen in front of me in real life.
I watched as the fear of speaking your mind and saying certain words became known as freedom. I watched as Americans came to assume that their communications were listened to, frightened of what they said, but justifying it as they praised their country for being unlike the totalitarian governments of the past. Peace became war. Any suggestion that invading Afghanistan was wrong was unpatriotic. In fact, any criticism of the government was considered unpatriotic and anyone who valued freedom over temporary security was borderline a traitor.
I watched as the United States became The Homeland and I watched as my friends had their window busted out of their car because they did not have one of those ridiculous window flags.