Every year on September 11th, I try to channel my rage and horror and heartbreak into words. Here is this year’s contribution.
9/11 was horrible. We will probably remember where we were when we learned of the attacks. We will also always remember the people who were killed that day, and mourn them, particularly if we knew them. But we must forget, in the sense of simply giving up on all retribution, because since that terrible day, we have used it as an excuse to inflict horrific wrong on other people, and we feel justified in doing so, because we can simply repeat “9/11 Never Forget” to ourselves over and over again.
Let’s take stock of where we are, and of how we live out our commitment to “Never Forget”
We have filled parts of Iraq with depleted uranium rounds, inflicting massive amounts of long-term harm, including cancer and leukemia, birth defects, and an infant mortality rate that is twelve times higher than in places where we did not use depleted uranium rounds.
We have tortured people at prisons like Abu Ghraib, and have added secret prisons to our arsenal in the “War on Terror.”
We have held, without trial or any recourse, hundreds of people, including children, the majority of whom are innocent – or at least, we have no evidence whatsoever that they did anything wrong.
We have done nothing to weaken the perpetrators of the attacks, and have possibly strengthened Al Qaeda in the region. We have also provided plenty of new recruitment materials for them in our killing of civilians, torture, and other atrocities.
We have spent in excess of $5 Trillion on the War on Terror, much of which was un-funded, and our great-grandchildren will be paying for it.
We are molested by the TSA when we go to the airport.
Billions of dollars are being spent to spy on the American people, without our consent or knowledge, and without any kind of legal check or balance from the justice system. Some of this will also come in losses to the private sector.
We have committed ourselves to an endless war against an un-defined enemy with no possible end or victory condition.
Discrimination and profiling against Americans who are of Middle-Eastern descent, or who are thought to appear to be, or who are simply Muslim, continues.
While we have diverted funds to the War on Terror, the American middle class has shrunk, hunger among people in poverty in America has grown, our schools have diminished in funding and quality, unemployment and underemployment have grown, environmental degradation continues, people have flammable tap-water, students are graduating with more debt than ever in our history, new college graduates suffer 50% unemployment – but the 1% enjoys nothing but record profits, record incomes, record bonuses, and tax cuts. All of this, so we can pay for our inability to forget.
Vengeance is a monster that is never satisfied. The scales are never balanced. We have inflicted September 11th on other people many thousands of times over, and still we are not satisfied. Still we do not feel safe. We have squandered trillions of dollars in resources while the middle class shrinks and the working class suffers. We have violated a laundry list of moral and legal values – civil liberties, individual privacy, innocence until proven guilty, habeas corpus; we have tortured, used chemical weapons, killed civilians, and abandoned our own soldiers and veterans to suffer alone.
All of this because we never, never forget.
Please, in the name of God, forget.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
 It has been pointed out that by the time this was published, in 2013, we may very well have degraded Al Qaeda significantly. I think the point remains, however, that we have done nothing but strengthen our enemies as a result of our war efforts in this region.