Društvo| Politika

Aftershocks and Lessons

Chris Farmer RSS / 06.09.2011. u 19:17

When something happens to change the world, we do not really know about it until the world changes.

Ten years ago, on 9/11, I was in Paris. I was sorting out lots of sportswear overstock and trying to place it enticingly in front of my client's eyes. My client's eyes, however, were glued to the television. I was annoyed. I had just arrived from Rome (he from Belgrade) the night before, we had one day to make this deal, and he was watching TV. I grumbled.

"Something happened in New York," he said.

I managed to pull him back to the here and now of the show room, prying his eyes away from the artless and unlikely footage of planes crashing into tall buildings, and we managed to wrap up the deal. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept hearing snatches of talk about New York, the Twin Towers, and planes, but I did not pay much attention. I slept.

The next morning, September 12, I was back at Roissy and boarding a plane for Rome. I had to walk over some blue sticky tape to make sure I did not bring any French mad cow or hoof-and-mouth back to Italy with me. I remember being irritated by these extra security checks. The plane was on time, and I arrived back at Via Alberto Ferrero to find out that the world actually had changed yesterday morning.

Even so, the full impact of what the 9/11 attack did to the United States was not felt immediately. Soon we would be declaring war on a small country just because we thought they were hiding the terrorist leader. Soon we would begin to place paranoia on a higher level than civil liberties. Soon the massive wave of anti-Arab sentiment would crest and flood over the US, and soon Americans - living under the comfortable illusion that we were safe - woke up to the notion that no special protections apply anywhere.

After ten years, the aftershocks are still being felt. We are ok with being frisked at airports and walking through x-ray vision scanners (aptly and frighteningly named "Rapiscans"), foregoing the possibility of carrying liquids on planes, and generally being treated as suspects. We don't mind, moreover, that people are still being rounded up and sent to Guantanamo Bay to be water-boarded and electro-shocked into divulging evidence of terrorism without legal, constitutional, or judicial protection. We just want to be safe.

But on that day, a decade ago, we still did not know what was what.

Thomas Hoepker's photograph (above) of New Yorkers chewing the fat while the World Trade Center collapsed has been taken as "an allegory of America's failure to learn any deep lessons from that tragic day, to change or reform as a nation," as summarized by Jonathan Jones* in the September 2, 2011 Guardian. We don't know if the people in the picture even saw the crashes yet. And we certainly do not know how they reacted after.

As far as I can see it, the lessons the US learned from 9/11 are several. We learned that we have to protect ourselves. We learned that we have to be more internationally aggressive. We learned that we should not put such importance on civil rights. We learned to be afraid.

It would have been heresy to suggest that we might have learned a different lesson. That perhaps the US should examine the policies and actions which made us a target in the first place. That maybe more inclusiveness and less ideological rhetoric might prevent things like this in the future.

The young people sitting obliviously in Brooklyn did not know the world had changed that day. I hope they understand now that it can and should be changed again.


* http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/02/911-photo-thomas-hoepker-meaning





Komentari (7)

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Jelena Pavlović Jelena Pavlović 19:31 06.09.2011


I love this song so much

looping looping 21:18 06.09.2011


US should examine the policies and actions which made us a target in the first place.

I think this situation is suitable for the US government.
They are sick of being a "free country" so they want to become "police country".

At least now they have a good alibi for putting everything (and everyone) under strict control and surveillance.
zarbor-b zarbor-b 09:54 07.09.2011

Aftershocks - we're not OK

Although all of these things seem normal nowdays, some of us, who remember how the world looked before that September 11, are not OK with so called security measures at the airports, we're definitely not OK with all of us being treated as suspects, nor we could ever be OK with Guantanamo bay. It might be true that such situation suits US government, as every government has that tendency to grab as much power as possible.

Could the USA learn different lessons? I'm not sure. It seems to often that the USA does not want to learn anything, but rather repeats mistakes ad lib (or should I say, ad Lybia?). Anyway, I think it's excellent that at least one American has learned and dares to speak and wright about it - yourself. That's enough to keep the hope alive. Thank you.
jednatanja jednatanja 14:04 07.09.2011


The young people sitting obliviously in Brooklyn did not know the world had changed that day. I hope they understand now that it can and should be changed again.

like a far-fetched idea considering Obama´s as-low-as-ever ratings, and M.Bachmann wanting to close down EPA and allow drilling in the Everglades...madness is lurking to get its chance again, and I am an optimist...
mrdax mrdax 12:23 08.09.2011


I somehow always tend to think that 9/11 and terrible collapse of to WTC heralded the very tough decade for the USA.
I hope it will never happen again and that families of all deceased have found enough strength to live without their love ones.

Bojan Budimac Bojan Budimac 17:20 08.09.2011

Lessons learned

For those who like to browse through the results of public opinion polls this might be interesting an reading Six in Ten Americans Say U.S. Weakened Its Economy by Overspending in Response to 9/11

Full Report: The American Public on the 9/11 Decade (pdf file)



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