Why We Are So Afraid, 15 Years After the 9-11 Attacks?

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)

I walked into the Facebook world this morning to be greeted by a posting that absolutely qualifies as a “Complicated Conversation” and knew that I wanted to share it here.

It starts with a short explanation from a poster in a group that I belong to and that is where we shall start:

“Advisory: I’m about to use one or two NSFW words. Steel yourselves.
Regular readers know I frequently repost comments from retired Navy Master Chief Jim Wright.
He wrote a 9-11 post this morning that I set aside to consider later whether to repost since I wasn’t coffee’d up enough yet to decide if it fit the tone of the day I’m trying to go with.
Well, I’ve just learned that decision was taken out of my hands. Because the Facebook standards police bots have taken it down (which usually means they’ve been complaint-bombed by the right wing social media patrols).
Fortunately, since I was undecided I had left a browser tab open with Jim’s post. Which I now copy and paste below.
I strongly encourage you to repost, or copy and paste yourselves. Because fuck you pseudo-patriots, that’s why.
Credit Jim Wright (https://www.facebook.com/Stonekettle):
You’re expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren’t you?
Here it is, but you’re not gonna like it.
15 years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America.
They killed 3000 of us.
And then … America got its revenge for 9-11.
Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren’t even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.
They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.
8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.
We’re still here. They aren’t.
We win. USA! USA! USA!
You goddamned right. We. Win.
Every year on this day we bath in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.
It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.
Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil son of bitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That’s what we wanted. that’s what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.
And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn’t matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he’s not an American, he’s the enemy see? He’s not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And…
15 years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans.
How’d that promise work out?
How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?
It’s 15 years later and we’re STILL afraid. We’re still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies — and our own citizens for that matter. We’re a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition and we’ve gotten used to being strip searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?
And now we’re talking about more war, more blood.
But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.
Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I’m not going to watch the shows. I’m not going to any of the memorials. I’m not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don’t want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other. I’m tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I’ll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.
I’m not going to shed a damned tear today.
We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I’m going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day. Enjoy this victory we’ve won.
I suggest you do the same.”

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that.

I agree with this post. Wholeheartedly. This worship of 9-11 is a ploy to keep us afraid, to keep us in the state of terror, so that we will go along with the war plans the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) has so that it will continue to generate revenue. War has become an industry, with corporate interest taking priority over common sense and sane people’s desire for no more war. So we are literally bombarded with the pictures of that terrible day, which keeps our PTSD / fear / terror alive and kicking.

I’m not going to get into whether I agree with our continued “boots on ground” in the Middle East. I served 4 years in the USAF, during a time when there was no war. I would have gone into combat if allowed (this was in the early 1980’s) but fortunately, the situation never came up. As a sane person, I abhor war. I consider it to be one of the worst ideas we ever came up with. I am especially concerned about the increasing technology–and the lessening human contact between enemies. It’s already become more like playing a video game than actually killing someone. (Drones, “smart” bombs, etc) I realize this sounds like I don’t agree with the “boots on ground”…but what I have just said about war is just that, about war. Military decisions are not always right, but they are followed out. I stand as a comrade with those soldiers who are over there, putting their lives on the line, doing their duty.

A quick “Google” search will give you the numbers for the costs of making war an industry. I’ve opted for pie charts, rather than lists of those numbers. You don’t have to understand high finance to get it; think of these pie charts as pies, with the wedges representing the pieces of the pie that are handed out.
First pie: the often quoted, but wrong, explanation that our defense takes “57% of the budget”:

Our second chart shows the actual portioning of the entire budget:


Please note the terms “mandatory” and “discretionary”. As with anyone’s budget, the US has bills it MUST pay before using “leftover” money to cover everything else. Defense/Military ends up being about 16% of the overall pie. So let’s remove the mandatory spending. That will take out the bills that must be paid and leave the rest of the budget to make into a new pie, called “Discretionary spending”, as this:


“By far, the biggest category of discretionary spending is spending on the Pentagon and related military programs. Examples of other well-known programs paid for by discretionary spending include the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor), and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among many others.”
(From: National Priorities)

“In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. Military spending includes: all regular activities of the Department of Defense; war spending; nuclear weapons spending; international military assistance; and other Pentagon-related spending.”
(From : National Priorities)

One more pie chart, this time with the actual dollar amount for each slice of the discretionary spending pie:


The discretionary budget for last year was 1.11 TRILLION dollars. The military got 54%, or 598.5 Billion (or 598,500,000,000). Everybody else has to share 511.5 billion (or 511,500,000,000). Just imagine how much more all those other programs could do if we just take the difference, 87,000,000,000 OR “just” 87 BILLION more dollars than they are making do without. Now let’s imagine a nation with a military spending of just 30%.  That’s about 300 billion. (I’m not doing precise math any more. All those zeroes hurt my head.) Think, oh think!, of what these other programs could do with 7 TRILLION dollars! We could help so many more people who need food stamps, education, housing. We’d be taking really good care of our veterans. And the science/energy & environment would have the funding to help wean us off of fossil fuels and provide new, better ways to live within this biosphere we call Earth.

It’ll never happen, of course. Not with as deeply entrenched as the MIC is in our government. It would require more effort than one President can make, or even one Congress might offer. (If you could even get them to go along with the idea; where do you think their money comes from? Not that generous paycheck!–no irony there; their paychecks are generous–but they also get rich-er from the “donations” they receive. Why else would their personal worth grow, almost exponentially, while they are serving the government?)

So having discussed military spending and why we are still afraid (because the MIC needs us to be fearful, so that we don’t have an uprising over 54% of our budget going to war) let’s turn back to Jim’s words.

He is a Navy Master Chief, retired. He served most of his life in the military. He has seen the horrors of war. So when he talks about terror, when he talks about how we are being bamboozled by the media, he knows of what he speaks. (Incidentally, so we’re clear on this: our media is not (not, I repeat) about actual news reporting. Facts are actually irrelevant in the stories they tell. It’s all about the entertainment factor, keeping people stirred up emotionally — and thereby, keeping them watching. It’s better for ratings to show the towers coming down (again!) than it is to show how people’s lives have gone on. It’s better to monger (defined as “a person who promotes a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable.”) continual fear and uneasiness, hatred, terror, and especially fostering the idea that somehow, we are not “great” anymore. It’s all about being outrageous, trying (and unfortunately, succeeding) to keep the American public misinformed about the reality of our country and overwhelmed with ideas of government corruption, that people who are different than (the average white male viewer) are going to take away your rights…”Be afraid, be very afraid” pretty much covers all of the media coverage, regardless of the topic.

Jim speaks both from his experiences in the military and the wisdom he has acquired along the way. He is passionate in expressing his views (duh!) but always backs it up with facts, real facts, provable facts. He is a political writer and he shares his thoughts on a regular basis. He can also be very controversial, as seen in this post.
(If you’d like to see more of his writing, his blog is here, at Stonekettle Station)

As a man of deep thoughts and the ability to share them, he gives his readers a lot to think about. He gives his detractors a lot to argue with, except that I have yet to see any comment against him that doesn’t read like a child’s nanny-nanny boo-boo. Yes, he receives death threats. Death threats, for words! Why should disagreement with Jim’s words give you the right to kill him? (Clue: it doesn’t. Grow up.) As the OP pointed out, FB took this posting down, almost assuredly because it was, as his wording goes, “complaint-bombed” by the people who do not agree with him.

Guess what? I completely support Jim’s First Amendment rights. He has every right to say what he damned well pleases. If you don’t like what he’s writing, there’s a real easy solution: DON’T READ IT. Just because someone doesn’t agree doesn’t mean they have the right to shut him down through the FB complaint process. His rights for free speech are exactly the same as theirs: he has them, too. Getting his post taken down rates right up there with burning books that offend someone.

I have some news, Sunshine. No one has appointed someone as the Word Police, they have no special powers to block any words, written, spoken, printed–just the same as they can speak their words. To those who want to listen to them. We’re back to the easy answer: if they don’t agree, they should stop listening/reading/trolling Facebook.

I am not advocating the complete boycott of 9-11. It’s not a bad thing to remember that something that historical took place–but like other historical events, it needs to be kept within the context of its occurrence. Because of 9-11, we have changed some of our ways of doing business. TSA and the whole rigmarole to get onto a plane is just one of them. But we still have, and I believe should always have, an open society. We have a reputation as the Great Melting Pot, a place where anyone can come and fulfill their dreams. Let’s live up to that reputation!

We ARE still a great nation, with many opportunities and many luxuries that great parts of the world do not have. We are still a nation where you can call the leader of that nation by any bad name you want–and you don’t go to jail for it, or die for speaking it out loud. One of our greatest strengths is the idea that We The People can control our own destiny, that we have influence on those who rule us. Unfortunately, that’s also one of our weak points, because those who rule over us have lost sight of the fact that they are directly SERVING the people. The reality is that far too many of them have become corporate shills and not only do not vote in the people’s interest, but often, directly against the people’s interest–and their will.

We need people like Jim Wright, who will point out when our emperor of the day has no clothes on. We need to hear his voice, listen to his words–I was going to say, even if we don’t agree with him, but I think it’s better said as “especially if we disagree with him”. It’s hard to learn something new when you all ready know about it and go along with the general idea of the topic. But it’s way easier to learn from someone whose views or information is different–it provides an new insight onto whatever you’re talking about.

I scold FB for failing to recognize Jim’s right to express whatever he wishes. I scold those who sent complaints; don’t read his posts. I hope that by sharing this in as many forms as is possible — because believe me, I’ve already shared this on my FB page–we can continue this very complicated, but very worthy, conversation. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Comment below with yours!



The Challenge of the Complicated Conversation

Christening the Ship


Welcome aboard! This is inauguration of what I think is a really exciting idea: the challenge of the complicated conversation. As I say on the Home page, this was inspired by Mikhail Baryshnikov and the commencement speech he gave some time ago. His words resonated with me and I felt compelled to start this blog, to reach out and begin the discussions we need to have–all of us.

Life has a fair number of “tough” topics: politics, religion, sex. We’re in the process of a national debate on things like a woman’s right to make medical decisions for her own body or what do we do about the growing inequality of wealth–already way out of kilter and just getting worse. So this blog will certainly be about current events, the things we find “trending” in our Facebook feed or on Twitter.

It will also be about teaching the youngsters among my readers about history, the way things happened “back in my day” and how that is the same, or different, than today. As the saying goes, “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We look back over the years to understand how we got here–and that’s worth talking about.

But I do not intend to limit this blog to just current events and history lessons. I look forward to other types of complicated conversations–like the ones about gender identity, chronic illness, mental illness, and the big one that no one really wants to talk about: Death. Having worked with the geriatric population, seen death many times…I can tell you that there are things worse than death. Sometimes, “Death is only the beginning.” It’s a conversation that we need to have, to remove the fears and misconceptions about it. The same with mental illness–talk about it to remove the stigma.

So I anticipate some lively threads! As this is my debuting blog, I am just setting the chairs, making sure everyone has drinks, getting ready for the conversations that will follow. I can warn you right now–I do not promise either consistency in topic or frequency of posting. But I was nudged into getting this (finally) up and public by the courageous change of careers from my favorite blog author–gave up his day job and is now a fully independent free lance writer. And he made a great point–treat writing as a job. Get up in the morning, knowing that you will spend a certain amount of time each day writing. It doesn’t matter if you end up trashing 3/4 of it later on…it’s impossible to produce anything of worth if you don’t even get your thoughts down on paper. (Or in this case, down in cyberspace, saved to the hard drive.)

I already have a lot I’d like to share–but if you have a particular subject you’d like to see covered here, don’t hesitate to leave those suggestions in the comments below. We can get to it eventually, promise.

It is my hope (and perhaps one of the driving reasons I am doing this) that our conversations will (of course) simplify the complicated and messy lives we have–and perhaps provide a reason to start your own activism in whatever speaks to you. At the very least I want these conversations to be thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, shockwaves to destroy complacency and apathy. Too many of us have lost ourselves, the real life we are supposed to be living, given up for a 9 to 5 and the “American Dream” (that is actually a lie). I want our interactions to be a wake up call, a thought provoking session that leads to provoking changes in our lives.

I also look forward to other, perhaps more “gentle” conversations about the things that interest us. It doesn’t all have to be life-altering revelations. <grin> No subject is off limits, as far as I am concerned, as long as every conversation is polite and thoughtful, regardless of the topic being discussed.

So I repeat, welcome and have a seat. We are going to have great conversations, you and I. Take the challenge and run with it!