Thoughts on the fallout from 9/11

There have been events in our history from the very beginning that have helped form our national character. But few, if any, have had such a transformational effect as 9/11 has. That horrible day will forevermore will be held up alongside Pearl Harbor as the definition of infamy. But while Pearl Harbor and prior events have served to strengthen our national identity and dedication to liberty, 9/11 has taken away from that.

For all the outrage and military action following 9/11, the primary response was to give in to fear.

The Patriot Act is an open admission that fear is the controlling emotion following 9/11. Our leaders felt that giving in to fear was more important than maintaining faith in the American people to accept the price and risks that accompany our liberty. The last time anything comparable happened was the internment of those of Japanese ancestry during World War II and McCarthyism.

There is, though, a fundamental difference between our fear in the past and that of today.

In the past, our fear was directed outward, at "others", the "Japs" and "Commies." Today, we have directed that fear at ourselves. Think what it means every time a TSA pat-down takes place. Think what it means every time a phone call is monitored without a warrant. Think what it means that a secret court issues secret warrants to be carried out by a secret force with little or no oversight. We are afraid of ourselves!

Arguably the worst result of 9/11 is that the American people have lost some of the spirit of self-reliance that has always been a hallmark of our character. We now depend more than ever on the government to watch out and care for us. We have traded hard-won liberty for a semblance of security.

We should all consider what Ben Franklin had to say about that: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

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