I wanted to write this on September 11, but work had me too busy. Do you remember how we felt after 9/11? I’m not talking about immediately after. I mean once the initial shock wore off, and we as a collective picked ourselves up. Yes, we were angry. Yes, we were shaken. Yes, we were saddened. But we were something else, as well. We were galvanized. After the divisiveness of the 2000 election, it was refreshing to pull together as a people, turn our collective attention to the Taliban, and show them our greatest strengths as a people. Before the attacks, I stood as firmly against President Bush as anyone. From 9/11 until the decision to invade Iraq, I pledged my full support to my president, and it felt good.
For a little while after 9/11, we weren’t conservatives or liberals. We weren’t Bible thumpers or baby killers. We weren’t homophobes or fags. We didn’t condemn each other for where we ate lunch, or hassle each other about nonsense. We were all Americans. We all rallied around the flag. I remember a black friend of mine saying that for the first time in his life, he felt patriotic. It didn’t last long, not even a full year, but for a little while, politics took a backseat to our nation. During one of our darkest hours, we held ourselves high and told the rest of the world that when we are threatened, we will pull together.
I know there were examples of idiots who beat up Middle Easterners or attacked mosques, and I don’t mean to ignore those facts, but by far, those were the exceptions, not the rule. For the most part, we stood shoulder to shoulder ready to defend our country, rebuild what was destroyed, and honor those who were lost. For weeks after the attack, President Bush had a 90% approval rating. 90%. That’s unbelievable. It felt good to know we could be one people again.
But like I said, it didn’t last. Personally, I stopped supporting the president when the decision was made to move the focus from those who attacked us to Iraq. From there, it continued to unravel. Today, we are as fragmented and divided as ever. When Osama Bin Laden was killed, instead of celebrating our victory as a nation, each side of the political spectrum taunted the other. That sickened me. Today, instead of mourning the death of a good man in Libya, both sides are politicizing the tragedy. Republicans are also shocked and outraged that President Obama is meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood president from Egypt. Never you mind that Egypt has been our ally since WWII. Never you mind that every single president since George Washington has met with at least one controversial head of state. Never you mind that the goal of the Iraq War was to spread democracy to the Middle East and that the president of Egypt was democratically elected. Because President Obama is meeting with him, it’s further proof that he must be in cahoots with his Muslim brothers.
It’s sickening, and since we have tarnished the memory of all those who died on 9/11, and since we’ve failed to learn any lessons from that tragedy, we deserve whatever happens to us. Today, I’m more ashamed to call myself an American than at any other time in my life. I love my country, but my fellow Americans make me want to puke.