The various speeches, statements, pronouncements and pontifications by the president and the political class arrayed around him on this seventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon serve as a reminder that –despite silly suggestions to the contrary – nothing has changed.
George Bush and Dick Cheney were running things on September 11, 2001. And George Bush and Dick Cheney are still in charge on September 11, 2008.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate were ridiculously deferent to Bush and Cheney on September 11, 2001. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate continue to bow to Bush and Cheney on Sept. 11, 2008.
Major media failed to serve as an effective watchdog on the White House on September 11, 2001. Major media still fails to effectively counter or contradict the White House on September 11, 2008.
So cynical and self-serving spin remains the order of this September 11, as they have been the case on every day since September 11, 2001.
Far from everything changing, everything has remained depressingly the same.
So similar, in fact, that it is reasonable to ask whether anyone has learned from the experience of a terrorist attack on American soil.
Indeed, of all the statements made in anticipation of and on this day, few evidenced even the slightest awareness of a need to move forward from the politics of ignorance and fear to something more appropriate to a functional nation seeking to make its place in the world of the 21st century.
The exception is the statement of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a man frequently dismissed by fellow Democrats and the media because of his resolute refusal to join in the flat chorus of complacency.
Kucinich may not have all the answers.
But he is looking forward rather than backward on this September 11th. And that, more than anything else, is what America needs from its so-called leaders.
America must move from the errant, retributive justice of 9/11 to a healing, restorative process of truth and reconciliation.
Before the Congress adjourns, I will bring forth a new proposal for the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.
We suffer in our remembrance of 9/11, because of the terrible loss of innocent lives on that grim day. We also suffer because 9/11 was seized as an opportunity to run a political agenda, which has set America on a course of the destruction of another nation and the destruction of our own Constitution. And we have become less secure as a result of the warped practice of pursing peace through the exercise of pre-emptive military strength.
It is not simply 9/11 that needs to be remembered. We also need to remember the politicization of 9/11 and the polarizing narrative which followed, locking us into endless conflict, a war on terror which has wrought further terror worldwide and which has severely damaged our standing worldwide as an honorable, compassionate nation. As we were all victims of 9/11, so we have become victims of the interpretation of 9/11.
Our government’s external response to 9/11 was to attack a nation which did not attack us. Indeed on the first anniversary of 9/11, the Bush Administration issued a well-publicized stern warning to Iraq which was part of a campaign to induce people to believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11.
The deliberate, systematic connection of Iraq with 9/11 has led America into a philosophical and moral cul-de-sac as over one million Iraqis and over 4155 US soldiers have died in a war which will cost over $3 trillion. Additionally, soldiers from 23 other countries have died in the Iraq war.
We attempt to unite Iraq by further dividing it. We talk about restoring Iraq while taking steps to place control of its vast oil wealth in the hands of US oil giants. And we intend to impose upon the Iraqi people the cost of rebuilding a country which our government ruined, keeping a once prosperous nation lashed to debt and poverty for a long, long time. Iraq has paid for 9/11. We all continue to pay for 9/11.
The heartbreaking loss of the lives and injuries to America troops further binds us to the Administration’s illogic of the Iraq war: We remember our troops’ sacrifice by demanding more sacrifice; we support our troops by continuing the war.
The dominant color of our new national security since 911 is neither red, white nor blue. Everyday is orange. Everyday reminders of fear of 9/11 become banal… Yet we no longer hear the airport announcements nor see the orange colored warnings because they have commonplace standards in our new national security state, as is the Patriot Act, wiretapping, and a host of invasions of privacy and diminution of civil liberties. The Constitution has been roundly attacked by the very people who took an oath to defend it.
There is a powerful desire across America for change, not necessarily from control by one political party to another, but a change from living with lies to living with truth.
Over two dozen nations, facing peril within and without, deeply divided by politics and war have travelled down a path of restoring civil society through a formal process of reconciliation. At some point within each of those countries it was understood that the way forward is shown through the light of truth. This process is not without pain because it requires a willingness to study evidence to which eyes had been averted and ears had been closed. But in the process of truth and reconciliation, nations found new strength, new resolve, and new commitment.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation enabled that nation to come to grips with its past through a public confessional, bringing forward those who committed crimes and having the power to grant amnesty for full disclosure of crimes against the people. Of course, our path may necessarily be different: High US government officials stand accused in Impeachment petitions of violating national and international law. Our continued existence as a democracy may depend upon how thoroughly we seek the truth. I will call upon the America people to join me in supporting this effort.
The truth can move us forward, as a unified whole, so that we can one day become a re-United States. 9/11 is the day the world changed. It is the day America embraced a metaphor of war. If we are open to truth and reconciliation, we may one day be able, once again, to embrace peace.