Ben Franklin’s quote from either 1755 or 1774 once again is proven a valid prophesy:
‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’
Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday. 2001.
Today, we look back twenty years. But perhaps it is time to look forward.
The coincidental name commonly used of “9-11” quickly became common in the aftermath of one of the highest-casualty, costly attacks on American soil in history. Mama Liberty and I have generally (from that day, in fact) referred to it as “Bloody Tuesday.”
The official death toll was 2,996. There were 25,000 “nonfatal” injuries – although many of those injured (or made ill) have died in the two decades, perhaps much younger than they would have otherwise.
By comparison, 2,403 officially died (2,390 by other sources) in the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941. But over 3,000 are estimated to have died in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. That was, of course, a natural event and accident: no one initiated that. The same can be said for the horrific Galveston Hurricane in Texas in 1900, with an estimated death toll of 8,000.
We won’t look at the death tolls from various epidemics or pandemics, but let us consider other man-caused butcher bills. The Battle of Antietam, 17 September 1862, saw more than 23,000 men (CSA and USA) killed: a number that makes the butcher’s bill of Bloody Tuesday pale in comparison. Of course, many other campaigns and multi-day battles snuffed out thousands and thousands. And shortened the lives of hundreds of thousands. And wars? In the millions: it is commonly reported that 400,000 locals and allies (including Americans) died in the seven years of the Iraqi War, and Afghanistan’s 20-year war (still continuing, in my opinion) toll is 241,000 according to AP and others. And ALL these numbers pale to nothingness compared to the 63 million deaths of infants through induced abortion in the Fifty States between 1973 and now.
But the real horror of Bloody Tuesday, the real negative impact on people and society is not those who died immediately, later, or even indirectly as a result of the wars (whatever euphemisms we use for them) triggered by the attacks. We all die, sooner or later, after all. It is more tragic when an infant or child dies prematurely rather than after a long life – as it is for those with less than the “three-score and ten” instead of making it to 80 or even 100. I am not demeaning or making light of the deaths of people, especially those not prepared to die.
But the real tragedy of Bloody Tuesday, both on the Fifty States and the entire world, is far worse: the loss of liberty in virtually every nation. Not just in the Fifty States, but in virtually EVERY country, every land and people. (Except for those which were already virtually slave societies, like North Korea.)
The world is a far more dangerous place in the twenty years after Bloody Tuesday, 9-11, than it was in the 20 years before that, despite wars in the Balkans, the fall of the Soviet Union, and general nastiness.
And freedom is greatly reduced. Liberty has been sliced away from people and places far, far away, with the excuse of the aerial attacks supporting that. Not just the ramping up of airport security – far more controlling than what was implemented after the air-jacking craze of the 1970s. (Who now can really remember what kind of places airports in the 1960s and early 1970s were like?) The explosion of the modern “surveillance state gone wild” really took off after 2001, and the growth is unabated twenty years later.
Secondarily (but still important) is the economic cost of the attacks. First was the cost of shutting life down immediately after the attacks. (A faint forecast of what happened in the Pandemic Panic of 2020, as it turns out.) The cost of demolition and rebuilding, and the loss of productivity added to that. But again, the real cost is still with us, growing every year. The wasting of treasure (fiat money or not) in wars and wars and more wars. The cost of security and surveillance and data systems – all often of little value in preventing more attacks – is something that drags down the economy around the world daily. The time and money lost in playing security games. The time and money wasted in chasing down rumors and spinning and debunking theories.
But perhaps the greatest negative impact is the mental attitudes caused by the attacks and the aftermath. Much of the rapid deterioration of American military forces and their political corruption by the current regime in DC can be traced to the massive “patriotic” wave of enlistment after Bloody Tuesday, when so-called progressives (often extreme “liberal” people today labeled as social justice warriors) joined up together with patriotic gangbangers and others. And the same sort of people rising rapidly in corporate circles as they had risen back in the 1970s in academic fields. And the ideas that “only government can solve our problems” and “the more problems, the more government we need.”
It is far beyond the time and scope of this commentary to state even a small part of the way Bloody Tuesday has warped society and our own mentalities in the past twenty years.
Is there a solution? I don’t know. How can we restore the freedom, the liberty, the economic opportunity and prosperity we’ve lost (or just failed to gain) from two decades of reaction to the attacks? I do not know. It does not matter any longer WHO attacked or WHY they attacked. The damage is done. We must live with it and strive to get over it.
Perhaps it is time to stop picking at the scar – or even if it is still just a scab, we need to look forward and not back.