As I left for work this morning and saw the clear blue skies and the warmth of the sun, it reminded me of that fateful September 11th. The memory is still so fresh that it is a little surprising to realize that it’s been 16 years since then. It was an historic moment of profound shock and vulnerability. The attack was followed by months of what became the realization of the best moments of our national character. President George W. Bush had stolen the election with one vote from the Supreme Court and had been playing golf at a record clip. But standing on the ruins of the World Trade Center while embracing a firefighter, he showed the strength of character and resolve that captured the best qualities of our country. He told Americans that we should respect Islam as a religion and that American Muslims were Americans who had also been attacked that day. He made the distinction between the terrorists who had attacked us and focused us on our response to them. However much his administration bungled the war afterwards, W. showed leadership in those early days and it led to a united country.
Now, we have a very different kind of president and country. He may have stolen his election as well, and has already been golfing more than W. did in four years as President. However, the similarities end there. This president is being investigated for conspiring with an enemy to attack our country, and whether he colluded or not, there is no doubt we were attacked and his response has been to deny and divide. Instead of uniting Americans with tolerance and purpose, he has targeted American Muslims with fear mongering, suggesting at one point that we should have give American Muslims special identification and watch them closely. Many of the same Americans who were incensed by the attack on 9/11 now dismiss the attack of 11/7 as “fake news”. Even worse, some Americans admit the Russian attack and say “so what?”. It is a divided, angry nation with the fear of terrorism (Islamic type) nurturing the ugly character of nativism. It is an America that reflects their president, rather than an America being led by their president to rise above fear.
God! I never thought that I would long for the days of W., but who wouldn’t now?