Did They Win?
“Don’t let the terrorists win.”
It’s been a mantra invoked by many Americans since that terrible day 11 years ago. As America’s closest ally and neighbour, we in Canada were certainly affected by the September 11th attack. Some of us lost family and friends. For those living in border areas, travelling to the United States on a regular basis used to be a routine affair. 9/11 changed that with the advent of increased security at border crossings. Still, despite a number of attempts, the United States and Canada have not been the victim of an attack by terrorists on home soil since the World Trade Centre.
I have been following the United States presidential election with some interest. And it has led me to ponder the events of 9/11 and to ask myself this question: Did the terrorists win? While the prime objective of Osama bin Laden and his followers was to disrupt the American economy by attacking the heart of the financial sector (the World Trade Center), the headquarters of the military (the Pentagon), and the seat of government (the failed attack on the White House), something else happened as well. America has become a much less friendly and welcoming place to live and work, especially when it comes to political discussion. There seems to be no room for compromise. The rise of the Tea Party following the economic collapse of 2008 has created a political climate in the United States that is very black and white. Reasoned discussion about policy between the Republican right and the Democratic left has been replaced by name calling, smear campaigns, racist comments by ultra conservative radio and television hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and just out and out lies by both sides. It would be easy to blame the right for this poisoned atmosphere, but left leaning liberals are just as guilty of ramping up the rhetoric as their conservative counterparts. Neither of them are saints in this scenario. And sadly, it seems some are trying to bring this type of my way or the highway approach to politics the great white north. Luckily, Canadian’s seem to be shunning it for the most part, as the so-called “Fox News North” television network that debuted last year, SUN TV, has so few viewers that it may actually be the only TV network with more people working for it than are watching it.
So…did the terrorists win? Well, obviously not. The American economy, while still in a big hole, is making some headway. And while their outlook may be a little more suspicious and meaner than it was 11 years, all the average American really still wants is what he or she has always wanted. A decent job, a roof over their head, and a better future for their children. And once the political parties realize that calling each other names won’t help either of them achieve this goal, maybe then they’ll be able to sit down and talk like reasonable people. We can only hope. Until then, I’m glad my TV has a remote…and an off switch.