Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget

We were roused from sleep by a call from my sister-in-law from half a world away. When the second plane hit the towers, it became undeniably clear that this was no accident. In the days following the attacks, "never forget" became a convenient mantra, but what is it that we're not meant to forget?

As the towers billowed smoke, police and firefighters ran toward the buildings. They may not have know for certain that it would cost them their lives, but they surely knew it could. The ran towards the towers and up the stairs to save other people. Americans should never forget this heroism.

A horrified world sent their condolences and pledges of support. Tiny Canadian towns opened their homes to passengers stranded by diverted airplanes. Queen Elizabeth ordered her guards to play the US national anthem in a break from ancient tradition. The world rallied to us and shared our shock and grief. Americans should never forget this kindness.

The US administration quickly fingered the mastermind behind the attacks, which led to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, but later turned into the disastrous invasion of Iraq as America remained reluctant to question a wartime president's flimsy justifications. This cost thousands of American lives, countless Iraqi lives, not to mention trillions of dollars spent off-budget. Americans should never forget this cynicism.

Today, about half the country stands behind a would-be tyrant whose solution to America's problems involve expelling all those who are not like him: Mexicans, Muslims. He advocates for war crimes and torture, and praises a foreign dictator widely suspected of assassinating political opponents and critics. He inflames barely-concealed racism behind the equally dangerous veil of nationalism. He turns a blind eye to the suffering of refugees. He threatens to isolate and homogenize America into something he approves, instead of the vibrant blend of cultures that brought it to greatness. Not only does this make him unfit to be president, it makes him despicable by just the normal standards of a human being.

Some may say I'm politicizing the tragedy. Sure. What are we meant to "never forget", if we ignore the bloody lessons whenever we talk about where the country should go? I think we should never forget that intolerance of others is what led to 9/11, and it hardly matters if the intolerance is dressed in Islamic verses or draped in stars and stripes. I think we should never forget that Americans voters have the privilege and responsibility to elect the leader of the free world. I think we should never forget that what brought the world together was our shared humanity, not the me-first selfishness that permeates his words and deeds.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Assholes

Trump says his intelligence briefers expressed disdain of President Obama and Clinton. If false, he's a liar who is taking advantage of their inability to publicly defend themselves. If true, he betrayed their confidence. His briefers might be anonymous to us, but certainly not to President Obama, and probably not to Clinton if she becomes president and decides to be vindictive and effectively end their careers.

Pence and Trump continue to compare President Obama unfavorably to Putin. It's a good thing for them that Obama is so "weak", because bad things seem to happen to people who criticize Putin.

It's hard to see anything but a pair of assholes.