At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would find unthinkable --- torture was one of them.Everyone knows the world changed on 9/11, but it changed in different ways for different people. For me, 9/11 was the day I saw how weak our commitment to morality really was, how quickly we would sell our freedom, how quickly we would kill to make ourselves feel safer, how little we valued the lives of anyone not like ourselves. I thought back to all the years we'd spent lecturing the world on civil rights, morality, and the rule of law, then watched our government round up thousands of people on the barest of pretexts and hold them indefinitely.
And for what? 9/11 was a shocking event, tragic for all those involved. On a national scale, it was a small event. Our reaction to 9/11 has caused far more damage--political, economic, moral, loss of innocent life--than the event itself. If we were willing to inflict this much damage on ourselves after 3000 dead, how much would we sacrifice for 10,000?