This morning’s comics were virtually all devoted to the subject of 9/11. One of my favorite strips is Crankshaft (my husband and I tend to relate to old and cranky); this morning’s had Crankshaft sitting in front of his television, listening to a blond announcer give a really lovely tribute that ended with the following sentiment:
“Our nation will survive and grow, secure in knowing that knowledge always overcomes ignorance, and an open, inquisitive mind always overcomes fear.”
I am sad today, not only for the people who died in the towers that day, not only for the brave firefighters and police officers who died or became terribly ill trying to save them, but for the death of my faith in that very belief.
In the wake of the attacks, there was an outpouring of human kindness, a recognition that however different we might be otherwise, we were all Americans. In the wake of a tragedy,we had a rare, precious window of opportunity to rise to the challenge and be a better, kinder nation. Instead, we were told to go shopping, and we did. We embraced a more pernicious invasion–an attack by our own government on our civil liberties. We took out our new fears on our Muslim neighbors (and our neighbors who looked like they might be Muslim). We invaded a country that had no connection to the attack and put its costs on the national credit card so that our generation wouldn’t need to pay for it. We shut our eyes to torture and rendition. Rather than using the tragedy to contemplate how we might improve our communities, we closed our minds, turned on each other, and gave in to ignorance and fear.
The attack was a test and we failed it.