Nearly a decade after one of the most defining moments of my life, once again I read the news and mourn for the American people. I have the sense, just as I did on that day, that everything has changed and that the America of my youth is forever dead. I of all people know that America was a myth, but – though it may be the rose tint so often applied to the past – I do remember that much of that myth was lived in to.
In the years since September 11th, the liberty minded have warned that a culture of war and constant reflection on terrorism and the boogeyman living next door would bring no benefit to the American people. We challenged some in the church when they baptized preemptive war and torture. We brought to light how laws like the Patriot Act could be used against law-abiding citizens. We questioned the need for domestic drones and tribunals outside of our common legal system. We rejected affronts to our historical and natural liberties in the name of security or the “common good”. Through the last decade the liberty minded have debated and discussed the logical ends of the “new think” that is eroding the last vestiges of the American mythos of liberty with very little gain in the public sphere.
With over a decade of media scare tactics, the television “analysts” terror scenarios, drills at work and school, etc. is it any surprise that acts of terror are on the mind of any radical kid who thinks he can be a revolutionary? Is it any wonder that, with our government obsessing over airplanes, fighting unwinnable wars abroad, and investing vast police efforts into a time and resource wasting war against drugs at home, some radical kids could develop a homemade bomb and detonate it at a public event? With the vast, freedom destroying, DHS-lead “security” apparatus built up in the last decade why is no one asking why the government, once again, couldn’t protect us from terrorists?
As someone who has followed the news closer than most since that day in September, it wasn’t the images coming from the Boston Marathon that caused me the most concern. My computer brings me a daily stream of hurt and pain from all over the world as bombs – many American – explode, injure, and kill. I’ve seen distraught parents of every race and creed holding the bloody, limp body of their child and felt a measure of their pain. I’ve seen destroyed homes and churches. I’ve seen classrooms with overturned desks and crimson outlines on the floor. As a product of post-911 America, none of this moves me like it should; it has been the daily news since High School.
In the end, it wasn’t the bombs going off in Boston that shook me to my core and once again made me afraid in my own home; no small-time terror troop has that power. What brought me to my knees praying for God’s guidance were the images and stories I saw on Friday; images of an entire city in house arrest and black-suited SWAT teams patrolling the streets. In a mere few hours my fears and worries about the future of the path our culture was on became reality before my very eyes.
I’ve waited since Friday hoping the initial feelings of that day would wear off, but the feelings have not dulled with time. On Friday, America cheered as the face of tyranny was plainly shown. America took comfort in military-style patrols on our streets. America cowered inside while Uncle Sam’s strong arm protected her from the bad guys. The parallels with the past are so clear, and yet, no one sees them. The path this new precedent leads to obvious, and yet, so few have spoken out against it.