FALSE PRESUPPOSITION OF A "POST-9/11 WORLD"
NO SUCH THING. Here's something that's been on my mind ever since Islamic extremists flew commercial passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001: There is no such thing as a "post-9/11 world." This is a false assumption that has led to and justified some of the most uncivil, irrational, fear-filled, and destructive decisions, policies, and actions around the world ever since. It has also made incredible impacts on the most personal understandings, perspectives, and decisions of ordinary people.
WHAT DID NOT CHANGE. There is nothing about what occurred on 9/11 that changed anthropologically or cosmically concerning the fallenness of humanity, the ferocity of evil, the potential for human striving for understanding and reconciliation, or the optimism of grace. I am the same person I was as the sun dawned on September 11, 2001. An Islamic fundamentalist is the same person he was before that day. Evil is no more evil. Violence is no more violent. Hope is no less hopeful. Fear is no more fearsome. Grace is no less graceful.
PERMISSION GRANTED...OR TAKEN. And yet, under the assertion of “expert” pundits and powerful Poobahs alike that "the world is profoundly different" because of 9/11, permission has been granted tacitly, implicitly and explicitly--and forcibly assumed and taken where not granted--for extreme and wide-ranging measures that gnaw at the very foundations and principles of Western, free societies. What seemed at first to be a knee-jerk reactionary statement, a “post-9/11 world” has become the continuing mantra to which all yield allegiance and whereby they swallow significant elements of essential freedom and responsible world citizenship.
IT JUSTIFIES WHATEVER POWER WILLS. Look at a few things this false presumption has fomented: Torture by Americans becomes acceptable in a "post-9/11 world." Secretive "extreme renditions" become acceptable in a “post-9/11 world." The leaders of a democratic, open, and free society acting under the cover of unquestionable and unaccountable secrecy with widespread covert spying on citizens is acceptable in a “post-9/11 world." Unprovoked preemptive military invasion of any country of our choosing becomes acceptable in a “post-9/11 world." A blank check for the military at the expense of pressing domestic challenges becomes acceptable in a “post-9/11 world." Essentially, this viewpoint has come to justify whatever power wills.
WHEN WE LOOK BACK. The presumption of a “post-9/11 world" is pervasive. There are few political decisions and actions that have transpired since 9/11 that do not have this presupposition as their backdrop. But I think there will come a time in which we will look back at the "post-9/11 world" era decisions as some the most internationally destructive and domestically unwise decisions made in America's history. Whatever wise measures that have been taken since 9/11 to check, reduce and prevent Islamic extremist terrorism and reasonably increase vigilance for greater national and international security have been swallowed up by a leadership culture of radical paranoia masquerading as unbending toughness perpetrated on all peoples and nations under American influence.
AS LONG AS WE BUY THE LIE. It's time to stop presuming a "post-9/11 world" in responsible thinking and decision-making. At the least, stop using 9/11 as an easy justification for tightening control, maintaining power, blessing mammon, and fomenting fear. As long as we buy this lie we will live with the resulting impacts of it, impacts that are already taking us in very destructive directions. We must set aside the jingoism of a "post-9/11 world" for reasonable, responsible decisions and actions that will positively shape the world in light of ongoing Islamic extremist terrorism that successfully pulled off a particularly destructively sinister plot on 9/11.
HOW ABOUT A POST-PENTECOST WORLD? As a Christian, I do not think in terms of living in a “post-9/11 world.” Not for a minute do I imbibe in this poisonous logic. Nor is a “pre-9/11 world” something for which I long or to which I cling. Instead, I am called to think and act in terms of a "post-crucifixion, post-resurrection, post-Pentecost" world. These are the humanity-shaping, future-impacting events that, more than any other historic or current event, have the power and promise of transforming individuals, relationships, societies, and international relations for the good.