Five years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, here's how I plan to honor the victims. From now on, I refuse to use the word "war" to describe our nation's response to the attacks.
My family went to see World Trade Center last week. Overall, I enjoyed the film and appreciated its portrayal of the brave people who tried to curb the death toll in Lower Manhattan five years ago this week. But I am appalled at the way Oliver Stone handled one aspect of the story. A former Marine who helped free two trapped Port Authority police is last seen on his cell phone saying he won't be coming back to his civilian job; that he plans to re-up and go avenge the attacks. A few minutes later, in the film's endnotes, Stone reports that the Marine fought two tours of duty in Iraq. That's right, one of our supposedly most liberal filmmakers is helping millions of moviegoers continue to buy the lie - refuted once again last week by a Senate panel - that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Enough. George W. Bush has used the sham of us being at "war" to be a "wartime" president and do whatever he likes in the name of national security. He very likely won the 2004 election because a slight majority of Americans were nervous about changing presidents in the middle of a "war." But as linguist George Lakoff reminds us all in an essay at Daily Kos today, wars are fought between nations and armies, and terror is a state of being. Yes, there is definitely terror in the world and people who wish to do us harm, some of them sheltered by the nations where they live. But we need to start dealing with terrorists as we do other international criminals: "checking banks accounts, wire-tapping, recruiting spies and informants, engaging in diplomacy, cooperating with intelligence agencies in other governments, and if necessary, engaging in limited 'police actions' with military force. Indeed, such methods have been the most successful so far in dealing with terrorism," Lakoff writes. If we'd used these methods in the months after September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden would have been caught. But Bush and Cheney apparently didn't want that, at least not as much as they wanted a bogus "war" in Iraq.
We've let BushCo literally get away with murder since September 11. As Lakoff adds, "The number of lives lost on 9/11 is currently listed as 2,973. As of this writing 2,662 Americans have been sent to their deaths in Iraq, a Muslim country that did not attack us. At the current rate, within months more Americans will have been sent to their deaths by Bush than were murdered at the hands of bin Laden."
These were brave men and women, many of whom signed up to serve after September 11, believing Bush, Cheney, and the rest of their neoconservative cabal when they insisted they knew where to fight the enemy. Our leaders lied, bin Laden remains free, and there's no end in sight.