September 11, 2010. Nine years later, and still more fearmongering, shrilly voices and downright hateful words than I ever imagined possible. Evidently the old reassurance that time heals all wounds applies to everything but this day.
I remember standing at a candlelight vigil with others in my community two days after it happened. Now most of those same people are teabaggers getting ready to have a rally a block away from my house on Sunday.
I remember wondering how my husband would get home from Iowa where he'd gone for his grandmother's funeral earlier that week. He drove back, in a somber, reflective tour of the midwest.
I remember thinking that it would be like an earthquake -- devastating for awhile but ultimately we'd all move on with our lives, rebuild the damage and hope nothing like that happens again in our lifetime. And slowly, slowly, we'd heal. We'd get some perspective.
Nine years later the crazy is worse, not better. I can't recall a year where the public insanity has been driven to such a fever pitch since the day it happened. I can't remember less respect being given to as many people as this year.
If someone looked into their crystal ball eight years ago and predicted this week's news cycle, I'd have laughed them out the door. Being an optimist isn't always a good thing, I guess. The whipping and stirring of anger, fear and hate this week has bordered on the hysterical, and a hysterical nation is something we just don't need. At least, it's not working for me.
But here, a breath of fresh air from yesterday's presser with President Obama, where he gave a serious and refreshing answer to a stupid question from a Fox News reporter:
"We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. And we've got to be clear about that. We've got to be clear about that because ... if we're going to successfully reduce the terrorist threat, then we need all the allies we can get. The folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda. That's what they've been banking on.
"And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in: how do I make sure I can get a good job, how can I make sure that my kids get a decent education, how can I make sure I'm safe, how can I improve my lot in life. And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part, overwhelmingly.
"And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here. It's a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts -- and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.
"The other reason it's important for us to remember that is because we've got millions of Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?
"I've got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan, in the uniform of the United States armed services. They're out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes: They are Americans. And we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don't differentiate between 'them' and 'us.' It's just 'us.'"
It is just 'us', no matter how hard the wingers want anyone to believe otherwise. And it's high time our corporate media started thinking about that before becoming co-dependent with teabaggers and self-serving politicians.