There is only so much one can say on 9-11, so this will probably be my last post on the subject, unless something new emerges that calls for comment.
The most appropriate way to observe 9-11 is to make it a day:
- To remember the 3,100 people who died in the attacks.
- To thank the first responders in New York and Washington for risking their lives to save so many others, and to bring closure to the families of those who perished.
- To remind ourselves of the threat of terrorism, at least as long as we maintain a military presence in the far reaches of the globe. Many people scoff at the idea of "Fortress America" -- keeping our troops entirely (or almost entirely) within our own borders; but no military presence abroad can really respect the sovereignty of other nations. Those who doubt this should consider how we would react if foreign troops were stationed on our soil. Justifying our presence abroad in the face of the Golden Rule (for example, by justifying it as "American exceptionalism") is nothing more than pure arrogance on our part. Our presence abroad provides terrorists with the motivation to attack us. We have no moral obligation to protect any country except our own. Europe is (or should be) perfectly capable of defending Europe. Israel and South Korea can likewise defend themselves against any likely attackers. The simplest and most effective antidote to terrorism is to remove their motivation to attack us.
- To mourn for the lost liberty that we allowed to occur, in the false belief that it was necessary to preserve our national security. Americans need to remember that the Fourth Amendment (against unreasonable searches and seizures), the rest of the Bill of Rights, and the Constitutional protections of habeas corpus*, and against bills of attainder and ex post facto laws** are absolutes. The best security for Americans is to jealously guard our liberties from our own governments, which by their nature will attack personal liberties for their convenience, or to protect favored interests.
Two of our Founding Fathers have given us the admonitions we most need to heed whenever we remember 9-11:
"Eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty"
-- Thomas Jefferson
"The man who would exchange essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin
Americans lost their liberty because the people were not vigilant; and the experience of the last ten years should show us why we are today neither free nor safe.
* Habeas corpus is the legal principle that one should not be detained by the state, except according to law -- specifically, pursuant to a court order.
** Definitions and examples of bills of attainder and ex post facto laws (scroll down just past the sentence in bold).