America: What Happened?

Christopher Vasillopulos, professor of international relations at Eastern Connecticut State University, has an answer:

The short answer is 9/11… The panicky US response to 9/11 did not so much change the world as reveal the shallowness of its materialist culture and the weakness of its political institutions. If Americans were truly committed to the natural rights basis of its Constitution, if they really believed in the values of freedom, their response to 9/11 would have been profoundly different.

…Without the Constitution, Americans are simply human animals who inhabit North America. From this perspective 9/11 was a test of American identity, a test Americans failed.

…For all its faults, the US has been a beacon of freedom and its possibilities. For all its limitations, it has managed to personify the struggle to free the individual from the shackles of unreasonable restraints of tribe, ethnicity, race, tradition, religious intolerance and other assaults on human dignity. Throughout its history it has worked to make real the underlying values of its Constitution, often in the face of prudential calculation. This is the world 9/11 changed: the world of US leadership in the search for the fulfillment of human aspirations.

When Americans cease to be Americans, when they act like frightened animals, the world loses hope. This is the most important lesson of 9/11, a lesson that Americans have not learned. Until they do, the world will not be able to imagine a world of freedom, peace, compassion and prosperity.

[tags]9/11, America[/tags]

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14 Responses to America: What Happened?

  1. pelmo says:

    “When Americans cease to be Americans” are the key words. At one time it used to be the UNITED States of America, and it started quite some time before 9/11.
    At one time it was a melting pot, when people came to America to enjoy all of its freedoms and oppertunities.
    At one time we had diffrent ethnic neighborhoods, wether it be Lithuanian, Polish, Italian or Greek. The stores and resturants may have displayed ethnic sounding names, but the rest was all in English, as the people strived to be Americans, but keep a bit of their culture.
    Everyone blended in and we were one. Language was what bonded us together. Now it seperates us. We were under one flag, now flags of other nations are more prominent then our owen flag.
    Majority ruled, now a vocal minority sets the standards that we are forced to abide by as our electerate is more worried about garnering votes, then doing what is right for the whole of this nation.
    We are becoming divided, as we try to please everyone by giving in to their demands.

  2. Xman says:

    I remember being very surprised at how we locked down USA air travel after 9/11 (yet later we learned it was safe enough for Saudi’s). Luckily, my trip to Munich was scheduled just right and I didn’t miss Oktoberfest. I remember my Uropean friends being surprised at the lookdown. They commented that they had been living with bombings, etc. for decades. I’m still surprised when I see an 80 year old grannies being patted down.

    Watch out! Sudden left turn: I also fondly remember the stunning long legged blond in the mini-skirt getting “wanded” as I was putting my shoes back on…..up and down her long legs the wand went. First the outside, then the inside, then a little circular motion on the hinney. Whew! Always a silver lining.

    Okay, back on track.
    As the fear has persisted these many years, I have suspected that perhaps the majority of American’s have a very small understanding of probability. This makes it very easy to scare them. They seem to think at any moment hundreds of planes could fall from the sky or crash into buildings. At the same time, an almost complete lack of knowlege of our constitution seems to make them feel safe. They have no idea that the undermining of the constitution is what crashes a plane into every family.

  3. >>They have no idea that the undermining of the constitution is what crashes a plane into every family.>>

    Excellent summation, Xman. Spot on.

    When I see the courage and dignity in the faces of citizens caught up in the chaos of places like Iraq, I cringe at the the thought of the cowardice displayed by my own countrymen when they shamelessly say things like “We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” What a disgusting, selfish lot.

  4. Jodi says:

    >> if they really believed in the values of freedom, their response to 9/11 >> would have been profoundly different

    Just curious.. How should we have reacted?

  5. Jodi says:

    btw… Happy Anniversary!!

    I LOVE YOU!!!

  6. JoeC says:

    Jodi: Happy Anniversary! I Love U 2.

    >Just curious.. How should we have reacted?

    Where to start? If, as a nation, we really believed in the values of freedom, we wouldn’t have allowed our representatives who speak for us to invade the wrong country, to torture, to freely spy on us, and to be an all-around general bully. People who believe in freedom don’t say, “You’re either with us or against us.”

    Pelmo: “We are becoming divided, as we try to please everyone by giving in to their demands.”

    In some ways we are becoming divided, but in other ways, the elite are doing a darn good job of uniting us through fear and by creating a North American Union out of Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. Soon, the official language will be Mexi-Ameri-French :-)

    Xman: “…the majority of American’s have a very small understanding of probability”

    True, true. One of my favorite reads was Freakonomics, which exposes this misunderstanding in so many ways…statistically, we really do a lot of stupid things, like spend millions of dollars on child car seats when, statistically, just making kids sit in the back seat would have saved practically as many kids. But that is what I liked about growing up in America — everybody was free to be stupid. Now, we are increasingly just becoming, well…you know, stupid. :-) Anyway, I gotta go watch Fox News deliver some truth now…

  7. La Sirena says:

    “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    Everyone of us should have that tattooed on our forehead. We forget.

    It is perfectly understandable that in the aftermath of 9/11 we were grieveing and vulnerable, yet we and our legislators allowed ourselves to be driven by fear. So the Patriot Act was passed. So the warrantless wiretapping and Iraq and on and on and on.

    And then people actually believed Bush would keep us safer than Kerry and brought that sentiment to the polling place.

    Bush should be ashamed of taking our goodwill and twisting it to suit his own agenda. But we should be ashamed of trembling when he says “boo” and allowing this beautiful experiment to come to an end.

    Now I really am afraid.

  8. pelmo says:

    A quote from Ben Franklin.
    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety”.

  9. JoeC says:

    “And then people actually believed Bush would keep us safer than Kerry and brought that sentiment to the polling place.”

    Albeit, as Robert F. Kennedy pointed out in an excellent article for Rolling Stone, most Americans clearly did vote Bush out of the White House in 2004: 2004 Election Stolen. But given virtual proof that the election was stolen via exit polls and every other kind of safe measure we use to monitor other countries’ elections, Kerry rolled over, and the media rolled over, and to the horror of the rest of the world, most of the American public rolled over and went back to sleep…

  10. La Sirena says:

    I read Kennedy’s article and agree that it was excellent. You are right, the election was stolen — don’t forget about the Justice Department caging that is now coming out in the Congressional hearings — however, way too many people STILL voted for these idiots. (I actually heard many people justify voting for Bush because they believed that they would be “safer” with Bush than with Kerry. This reason was of course, delusional and by definition:

    A false belief, not susceptible to argument or reason, and determined, pathologically, by some form of mental disorder.

    These are uncertain times.

  11. JoeC says:

    “…way too many people STILL voted for these idiots.”

    Very true. I specifically remember hearing the following inane excuses for voting for Bush instead of Kerry:

    A friend of a friend was in Vietnam when Kerry was there, and they said he drank a lot (As opposed to Dubya who failed to even show up for his country, and was busy drinking a lot at home???!!!!)

    Kerry is just a rich Yankee, just married for the money, and no way am I making Teresa Heinz the First Lady ( I don’t have much of a response to this, just that because somebody didn’t like Teresa and Kerry’s background, we have instead blown $400 billion and thousands of lives in Iraq, and at the same time anulled our Constitution…)

  12. Xman says:

    Have been interested in motivations of assassins. Does anyone really know why Lennon was killed? What got sara jane moore going? Lincolns assassin, sirhan sirhan (thats a strange one) etc….

    Lately since our country is so against the war and so many soldiers have died and been wounded and arguably “wasted”, I have been wondering how many stress syndrome soldiers (trained to kill) and families and friends we have out there who feel betrayed by the administration…for all the reasons the administration have proven themselves to be crooks?
    Thats just people in our country, what about all the others?

    Below is an interesting book I ran across. Makes for an interesting discussion.

    “The Assassins Gallery,” by David L. Robbins, is a historical thriller set during the early months of 1945. Professor Mikhal Lammeck poses the question: “Can a single man change or direct the course of history?” during the first session of his class at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Although the professor is fascinated by the whole “bloody mess that is human history,” his particular field of expertise is the political killer or assassin. Lammeck has begun to write a treatise on assassinations, but, after five years of work, the book remains unfinished…and he meets an American Secret Service, and his job is to protect President Franklin Roosevelt. After two civil defense wardens are killed while patrolling a remote Massachusetts beach, Nabbit and his superiors suspect that a deadly intruder has infiltrated the country to kill FDR. They want Lammeck to lend his expertise in the hunt for this would-be assassin.

    The author provides some interesting facts about famous assassins in history, and he repeatedly raises questions similar to the one that the professor asked in Scotland: Do people mold history or are they history’s unwitting pawns? By killing a head of state, can a single individual accomplish what years of war cannot?

  13. JoeC says:

    Well, there’s a lot of evidence that Oswald was a disturbed guy recruited by the CIA and setup to be the patsy, and he even figured it out by the time he was killed. Looks like Sirhan Sirhan was brainwashed, to his own bafflement, and the “girl in the polka dot dress” was never explained, or the extra bullets all over the ballroom…maybe he was a product of MKULTRA?

    It does seem like intelligence agencies prey on the mentally susceptible, and often remold them into “terrorists” or double agents who think they’re being heros, but often get cut loose and go down in history as villains.

    “The Assassins Gallery” sounds like a good read. That is a tough question…can a single assassin accomplish what a war can’t? I’d guess sometimes, and sometimes not. For instance, I believe the CIA admittedly killing Kennedy probably caused a larger Vietnam War and the deaths of untold thousands of Americans and Vietnamese.

    On the other hand, if something happened to the current dictator in chief, I’m not sure that much would change. Cheney and Rove and Rice would just pick the torch up and continue the neocon agenda, and Hillary and Obama don’t seem like they really down deep want to get out of Iraq too quick.

    Speaking of trained to kill stressed-out returning soldiers, if you haven’t seen it, check out a copy of the fictional documentary Death of a President. If you’re into politics, it’s better than its 6.5 user rating, and sounds like it’s right down your alley, Xman.

  14. Xman says:

    Joe,
    I got “Death of a Pres” from netflix. It was good. Great way to film a subject like that. Kind of Costa Gavras. But I didn’t think the movie was tough enough…not enough like Costa. It’s like they were afraid to really make a tough movie. They never followed through on a whole lot of easy points to make. Probably didn’t want to get banned from usa travel. They were Brits, right?

    Hopefully, a letter will be uncovered in a hundred years and we will learn kennedy was killed as revenge for castro stuff or mob stuff, etc…and I guess it could even have been for the Diem assassination.
    I think you are right about the current Pres. His minions would just keep going, after all the prize is still in the ground.
    And I personally think both parties were in on the oil grab. They just may have done it a bit differently.

    It is kind of strange that Reagan was responsible for emptying the mental hospitals and then got whacked by a former patient.

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