The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was talking with my mom over the phone after having just moved into an apartment in Los Angeles with my partner at the time. We were in Social Work school through Smith College and about to start internships. We had bought a TV at a garage sale as we pieced together our living space, but hadn’t yet gotten the bunny ears. When my mom mentioned that a plane had hit the the World Trade Center, we were both like “Oh Wow” and “Oh No” and “How did that happen?” but I couldn’t see it without the antenna and we kept talking, until the next one hit. Then we hung up the phone. It wasn’t some horrible accident.
Being in the store buying an antenna was like standing next to strangers staring at what might be the beginning of the end of the world. People began to gather around the TV as they played the footage over and over again. We worried L.A. would be next since it was a big city and home of Hollywood. We took our antenna home and watched fuzzy pictured news until we were raw inside and scared. We were supposed to go learn to be social workers, but a new question had cropped up: how do you help others when you are also scared of this world, of life, of what might come?
Over the next few weeks I became obsessed with NPR, listening to the news for gaps in the story. Trying to figure out what had happened. What had gone so wrong? What had America done? What was going to happen? The whole world hates America, I thought. I was convinced there was a conspiracy, that the Bush administration had done something to cause it so his ratings would boost. I became paranoid and anxious about flying. The world had never been certain, but it seemed it had now been undone.
Flags went up everywhere. Some of the largest flags I had ever seen hung from buildings. And War was declared.
America said it was unified, like in order to come together, we needed an enemy to be against. Now it’s 11 years later. New generations have been born that don’t even know what happened and it’s slipping into history.
As a nation we are still at war and we are just as, if not more, divided than we ever were. 9-11 was a tragedy for our nation and for a while, to many people it looked like it could hold us together as one. As brothers and sisters, as friends, as Americans.
One horrible thing that happened at that time was that American Muslims and Arabs were targeted, profiled and feared. Innocent people who have contributed much to America were taken into custody for no reason other than their looks, dress, religious practices, or cultural identification. Hate crimes were carried out on them. Their freedom was being sacrificed because of the fear of the larger, more powerful group.
I worry that is happening now, though now it’s not just Muslims who are being targeted, profiled, and feared. It is over half the population- WOMEN. It’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender Americans. It’s immigrants, specifically Mexican and Latino immigrants. It’s poor Americans and the working class.
I don’t care if you heard certain women saying they don’t think women really get pregnant very often from rape (they do) or that they don’t support healthcare for women or believe in a woman’s right to get an abortion or that they don’t think there’s a War On Women. There are plenty more women and men who see how women are being more and more systematically oppressed every day. By taking away women’s rights, by not allowing women to make decisions for themselves about their own bodies and lives, women are being named sub-human.
By not including LGBT Americans as worthy participants of aid for violence committed against them, by saying committed couples will not be recognized under the benefits and responsibilities of the law, LGBT Americans are being named sub-human.
Immigrants, poor Americans, working class Americans are all being targeted to lose rights and the possibility of upward mobility, which is a cornerstone of what America is. When people are seen as sub-human, violence against them goes up.
The Republicans are pushing against the people America is made up of and our rights as people are in jeopardy. Extremists have taken over the Republican party. They call themselves Conservatives, but there is nothing about their agenda that is conservative. I would say it is radically against about 80% of the population, if not more. That doesn’t mean people who the laws they are passing are against won’t vote for them. It means people have to continue to talk, to voice why this is such a problem.
We must remember we are ONE nation. We can be united. We are stronger when we are united, when we care about our society, our people, our neighbors, and when we value and celebrate our differences.
We must remember we are a nation for liberty and justice for ALL.