It’s Shocking How Easily It All Comes Back
Before that day, the idea of America disappearing its enemies would have been unimaginable.
Before that day, the idea of America keeping a secret list that barred you from flying would have been unbelievable.
Before that day, the idea of America spending 20 years and an estimated $6.4 trillion and 801,000 lives on endless wars without clear mission parameters or exit strategies would have been unacceptable.
And before that day, the idea of America electing Donald Trump as its president would have been downright laughable.
But that day tapped a deep seam of xenophobia and fear in the American psyche, making possible the election of a man who campaigned on “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — even as white nationalist terror cells were training in the woods. Before Sept. 11, Trump’s presidency — and the myriad catastrophes proceeding from it — would have seemed the stuff of some bizarre, outlandish fiction.
But we have become a nation of truths stranger than fiction, a nation where satire must run to keep up with reality. As we go forward from this moment, we find ourselves contending for the very soul of America — something none of us could have imagined 20 years ago. Which is why it must be said, tragically, that the terrorists succeeded beyond their dreams in inflicting damage on this country.
We’ve long calculated in a currency of lives, politics and pain what they did to us. But a true reckoning demands an additional tally:
Namely, of what we have done to ourselves.
(Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, Fla., 33172. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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