I was 12 when it happened. I distinctly remember being pulled from art class into a large auditorium with a number of other students. Teachers, red-faced and unsure of how to properly address the situation, showed us the clip of the second tower being hit. Boys in the audience started to yell, “Are we at war?” and cheering about how we’d “Get ’em back.”
Over the following months and years, “Never Forget” became the slogan for the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Media outlets scoured stories from surviving families to ensure the American public wanted payback. Very few people were against the War in Afghanistan when it started—remember, 90% of Americans supported the war.
I maintain the position that even if George W. Bush did not think that invading Afghanistan was a good idea, he did not have a political choice to avoid “The Good War.”
Over a decade later, our efforts in Afghanistan—and Iraq—have done little. More soldiers have been lost to combat than civilians that died on 9/11. The United States has become a greater surveillance state than ever before. The Obama administration has the gall to suggest arming our once-enemies in Syria. The government has lied and cheated the American people, leading the United States down a road where war is endless and purposeless. September 11th: Never Forget That It Led To A Number Of Bad Decisions.
What we should never forget is that September 11th became an excuse for the media to forget their watchdog duties. It became an excuse to go into a country that we knew little about because of our desire for revenge rather than good foreign policy. 9/11 became the beacon for the endless War on Terror. Never forget why we are in this mess.
A dozen years stand between September 11th and today. Thankfully, I think that we, as Americans, are starting to learn our lesson.
Consider this: the NSA is incredibly unpopular, Republicans and Democrats alike are saying “NO!” to war in Syria, and shocks to the American people, such as the Boston Bombing earlier this year, have not lead to more hasty, emotional, and bad decisions in America’s foreign policy.
America is coming back to its senses.
The greatest lesson that September 11th teaches us is that the rally ’round the flag effect is detrimental to the society it lives in. We are still recovering from the decisions this country made well over a decade ago, and it’s been a hard-fought road to recovery. I will never forget 9/11. It was a day of horror but also marked the beginning of decades of mistakes.