The 17th anniversary of 9/11: What have we learned as a nation?

The 17th anniversary of 9/11: What have we learned as a nation?
9/11 (Image: YouTube screen grab via CNN)

It was on a calm late-summer morning 17 years ago today that America woke up to the worst attack by a foreign “power” ever to take place on American soil. For those of us who were up close — I live on Manhattan Island — the recollections of that day and the period afterward come flooding back each Sept. 11. To those who lost loved ones in the senseless attack, the pain remains real.

We have traveled some distance in time since that fateful morning, but how far have we come as a nation and a people in the last 17 years? A new generation was born and has grown in the year since. Despite hearing about the attacks, along with the admonishment “never to forget,” many are already past remembering. We saw this a year ago when some unknown person or group scrawled on a 9/11 memorial at the University of Notre Dame the political message “500,000 Iraqis Murdered.” We saw it again in the actions of mercurial NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who forbade NFL players from honoring 9/11 victims.

This past August, administrators at Ripon College in Wisconsin ruled that an event commemorating the tragedy of 9/11 could not take place on campus because it might offend Muslim students. That decision was made of course by people old enough to have lived through 9/11, who were probably among those who sought to dissociate the attacks with Islam despite their Islamofascist underpinnings, and were now essentially telling young people that an event that had nothing to do with Muslims could not be held because it might offend Muslims.

In a similar vein, students at Iowa State University were asked to write an essay that presented the facts of 9/11 from the terrorists’ perspective. The assignment was intended as an exercise in “thinking outside the box.” As I wrote at the time, thinking outside the box something that liberals excel at whenever reality comes crashing down on their preconceived world view.

For many Americans, 9/11 has been reduced to “something bad,” a point of comparison for other things they find problematic. A principal at yet another school, this one in New York City of all places, told parents that the election of Donald Trump was worse than 9/11. Comparing the Trump presidency to 9/11 has become a popular campus meme. A student at Converse College, in Spartanburg S.C. was ejected from class for refusing to accept the instructor’s assessment that Nov. 9, 2016 — election day — was the worst day in American history.

The sad reality is that some Americans continue to live, and will  perpetually, in a pre-9/11 mindset. For them, nothing will change their blinkered view of our nation, probably not even the next 9/11, should the nation be so cursed.

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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