I was in my law office that morning preparing for a deposition. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. It was a commuter plane or a Cessna, so they said on television. I had flown enough to know a plane that small could not leave a wound that big. Then the second plane hit. Then the third plane. Then the towers fell. Then flight 93.
The terrorists won. The Russians are winning too. They sought to divide us, not steal an election. We are divided.
We, the United States of America, are the most divided we have been in years. We unite each year with a hashtag that says #NeverForget and we have forgotten what it all meant. We forgot what it meant to be united as a nation that recognizes there are bad guys out there and evil is real. Now, our neighbor who supports the other presidential candidate is bad and that other presidential candidate is evil.
I saw real evil on 9/11.
I have seen the bodies — the jumpers who jumped because no one was coming to get them and they chose to meet death in the cement at ground level than burn or have a building collapse on them.
I heard the voices of the heroes who captured the plane and crashed it choosing to die victors over evil than let evil have their way.
Now both sides bastardize their memory with supposed Flight 93 elections where you have to choose the guy who can’t be faithful to his wives over the assorted list of terrible politicians on the other side or vice versa all to keep the Americans you hate contained and at bay.
The terrorists won. The psychological impact they have had on our national psyche now consumes us as Americans burn down other Americans’ businesses; reporters can’t be honest about it because they might help Orange Man Bad and that would be worse; white kids march with tiki torches for ethnic, racial pride; politicians of both sides seek to capitalize on dividing the nation and convincing us that it is all over if the other side wins; and some of you who will scream and cry and whine at me for daring to point it all out.
We lack the character, courage, and conviction of those who were on Flight 93 and now use their flight and valor shamefully and politically in a never ending cycle of must-win elections when really few things ever change except the level of hate for the other side. It always ratchets up.
A mom blogger from the left declared recently that she wants Trump supporters punished for supporting Trump. She wants corporations to shun them, internet companies to turn off their internet, Target to block their entry into its stores, and bad things to happen to them. She sees her fellow Americans as racist, bad, and evil people who need to be harmed.
She’s not really much different from those who so internalized their hatred of the United States that they flew planes into buildings nineteen years ago. She just lacks the courage of her convictions.
There are people on the right just as openly hostile to people like her.
Christianity is the only religion that has a concept of grace. Every religion, including the secular variety, has mercy, i.e. sparing people what they deserve. Grace is harder. Grace is giving people what they don’t deserve or what you think they don’t deserve.
Turns out those men on those planes didn’t just take away our buildings. Over time they helped America Jesus and America Sky God is Imaginary leave behind the old quaint religion of that guy who died selflessly and conquered death and his quaint idea of grace and redemption.
It’s all cancellation here on out. We’ve got to behave just like the other side or they win. That’s what they tell me. That’s what they tell you.
Too many Americans, including very many of you who will read this, have internalized your hate for the other side. It’s not just that you think they are out to get you, but you are out to get them. The terrorists made us feel vulnerable from abroad and now we feel vulnerable from within too. The policies with which we disagree are now the policies that will destroy the country or ruin it. We refuse to see the other side just sees things differently. The republic that stood against so many more and greater threats will seemingly collapse overnight if the other side wins — who cares what that other side is. They are the enemy.
Except the aren’t.
The enemy came out of bright blue clear skies nineteen years ago. They did not care what our race was, what party we were with, or whether we believed in God or no god. We were and we still are Americans and they hated us for it. Now the New York Times wants to revise our history and tell us it was always bad even before it all began. And some on the right aren’t much better.
The sooner we get back to remembering and not forgetting that, the sooner we can move on. But there’s just too much profit in us pretending to never forget while actually, truly forgetting.
If you truly want to never forget, never forget the political party you are not with is not the bad guy and the presidential candidate you hate is not evil. And if you can’t fathom that, if you cannot agree with that, if you cannot recognize that, if you demand caveats to that, and if you argue against that proposition, then yes, yes indeed the terrorists really did win.