Monday marked the 5th anniversary of the tragic events of 9.11. That day had such a profound effect on all of us; we don’t even need to specify the events. We remember it all simply as 9.11.
Many commentators have ventured that the world has not been the same, since 9.11, and that is true in many ways. That tragedy spawned new wars, greater security concerns for travelers, border issues between Mexico and the United States, and a new American political battleground for arguing which political party can keep the country safer.
But in many ways, nothing has changed.
We are still people driven by bigotry, emotions, and ignorance.
In Monday’s Dallas Morning News, a columnist who is a senior at a Plano high school shared what the “Defining Moment” of 9.11 meant to her. Alaa Al-Barghuthi recalled what it was like five years ago when she heard about the planes hitting the towers and her seventh grade class made patriotic bracelets. She wears the bracelet every year on the anniversary so she can remember, but she said she has no trouble remembering. The pain is still as raw today as it was five years ago. “And five years later, the ignorance is still there.”
She went on to say how a fellow journalist asked her if she celebrates September 11 as a holiday. He didn’t ask the question five years ago. He asked her the other day.
She wrote how she experienced a myriad of feelings … anger…hurt…disgust… and couldn’t even respond to the question. Then she ended up feeling sorry for him and feeling sorry for all the people who can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys.
She also wrote that she hopes that not all Americans believe that all Muslims celebrate 9.11 because, “…it is telling all terrorists, all evildoers, all extremists that they have won.”
In conclusion, Alaa defined the enemy not as people but as the evils of hatred, extremism, blame, indifference and ignorance.
I’ll admit that right after 9.11 I lumped all folks who looked like Arabs together in one big pool marked “the enemy.” And I still don’t know how we are supposed to sift out the enemy from the thousands of peaceful Muslims. That is a question that plagues the people who are trying to keep us safe around the world. So maybe we still should be wary of the stranger in the airport, but couldn’t we be a little more open to finding out about the guy next door with the dark skin before we slap a label on him?