The terrorists won

It's safe to say that the 9.11 attackers didn't have ambitions of global conquest. Well, many radical Muslims do, but it's more of an intangible ideal, not an immediate objective. The attacks were designed to strike fear into us. And as much as we like to hold hands and sing and pretend that we won, the harsh reality is that the terrorists got exactly what they wanted out of it.

First, we got the Patriot Act, an insidious encroachment on personal freedoms in the name of protecting us all. I'm reminded of the famous quote by Ben Franklin:
Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither. Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.
Then we got those stupid color-code "alert" systems. Today's orange! Be extra alert! What does that even mean? What, specifically, were we supposed to do? Nobody seemed to know.

We invaded Iraq. We took out Saddam and killed many thousands of civilians – hundreds of thousands, by some counts. We didn't even have a legitimate reason to be there, but if you protested the war you were branded as unpatriotic. "Support our troops!" became synonymous with "support the current administration's policies!"

Then we started demonizing Muslim citizens. When they tried to build a community center that was fully compliant with all zoning laws in New York City, they were met with hateful protests – even though Muslism Americans were killed in the attacks, and even though the vast majority of Muslims are perfectly kind, normal people.

We now go through an absurd security checkpoint every time we want to fly. When I flew back from Vegas last week, I had to give them my bottle of sun screen. Sun screen. It was deemed too dangerous. We go through x-rays or a pat-down. Does anyone honestly believe this makes us any safer?

One thing is for sure: we're afraid. We've sacrificed freedoms, we've killed innocents, and we've scapegoated minorities all in the name of protecting ourselves. Those who died ten years ago were victims of a hateful and false ideology. As a nation, we've chosen to become victims.

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