September 11, 2001 was launched as the pinnacle of ethnic hatred and resulted, ironically, in the creation of a common thread between complete strangers of all ethnicities.

On that day, whites and blacks, Muslims and Christians, Democrats and Republicans all stood side by side, united in one identity – American. On that day, America forgot its infatuation with itself, and worked for the common good.

On that day, fear spread throughout the land, but it was overshadowed by the creation of a stronger union, under 50 stars and 13 stripes.

Three years ago, as a freshman, I wrote my first op-ed piece questioning the lessons we had learned from September 11. In the days following the attacks, this country arose from its whimpering, stretched its mighty arms and demanded that retribution be meted out.

And so we did.

People of a specific color were targets for lynching. Their businesses were ransacked and their way of life destroyed. Abroad, we invaded Afghanistan and later Iraq to quench our bloodlust and satisfy our vendetta.

At that time, I wanted to know, “Why?”

Why are we targeting innocent people? Why are we attacking countries for no cause? Americans had not realized that the very way we reacted is the primary reason the global community despises our existence.

Yet, three years later, I could publish the very same article and it would be just as pertinent. We have not changed.

Instead, we became more fearful of ourselves. We passed the USA-PATRIOT Act, granting the government more power. Rather than trying to increase understanding, we decided it was easier to deport undesirables and prevent new immigrants from entering.

September 11 was a horrendous act performed by a group of fanatics, and yet our response proved we were no different.

In Iraq alone, according to Iraq Body Count, 24,712 civilian deaths have occurred due to military actions. This is almost 10 times as many as were killed September 11. The official reason for this act was never clear, but the undertone was always, “We need vengeance. Remember September 11, and if you do not, you are a terrorist, too.”

Have we killed enough? Is your bloodlust satisfied? How many more innocent people have to die before you feel safe enough in your self-created bubble and can go back to believing the rest of the world worships the ground America walks on?

Don’t repeat history. Learn the lessons that will allow you to live in a global community of equals. Vote for representatives who will support peace, tone down our aggressive foreign policy and present to the world a new and conscientious America.

He can be reached at mhe@campustimes.org.



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