Monday, May 13, 2013

The Meaning of a Spire

Last week, the new tower at the World Trade Center was capped by a spire that finalized it's height at the purposefully meaningful number of one thousand seven hundred and seventy six feet.

You could hear the warm and gauzy descriptions on the news about how symbolic of our "strength" and "national purpose" this event was, coming over twelve years after the 9-11 attacks.

In the dozen years since nearly three thousand people were killed by the 9-11 terrorists, there have been many changes in this country. The war in Iraq, created by the lies of the Bush Administration, has chugged along. It has continued even after the "official" withdrawal of American troops, because for reasons that elude me, the fact of the presence of "independent contractors" has been absent from news accounts in recent years. These independent contractors, or mercenaries, are a shadow military force that can and does operate out of the restraints of official military administration and oversight.

In spite of the killing of Osama bin Ladin, the war in Afghanistan has continued and who really thinks that after the "official" U.S. withdrawal, that a continued military presence will continue for who knows how long?

The multiple tours of duty, required of the troops we always lovingly salute for their 'sacrifices', have ground them down to suicidal time bombs that may never find jobs in a listless economy that poorly delivers on veterans claims for medical and psychological services. Thanks guys and gals! We'll have a parade for you come November. Just remember, it's tyrannical to expect us to raise taxes to pay for these wars or even to fund veterans services and other social safety net programs. You don't want to be deadbeats or layabouts, now do you? That's not what makes this America, is it?

The World Trade Center spire is the latest American example of symbolism over substance. Subsequent to the 9-11 attacks, the country has systematically rolled back civil rights and constitutional liberties in response. Air travel is a gauntlet of inconvenience and humiliation for all concerned. Privacy from government intrusion has been rendered obsolete. Torture has been embraced as necessary and effective, while using euphemisms like "enhanced interrogation" in some Orwellian double-speak. Freedom of religion is unable to be asserted by non-Christians, under threat of violence or political attack. Freedom of the press has been yielded to government access, because of the laziness of reporters and the corporate ownership of news outlets.

The American response to 9/11 has been a failure. From yielding on constitutional rights, and making mindless wars on unrelated countries, American principles and ideals of Freedom and Justice have proven to be woefully out of reach for what has turned out to be an undeserving and venal government and population.

Future generations of Americans will look back on our age and sadly wonder at how a country with all of the tools at its disposal, with the economic might and legacy of Constitutional precepts could have gone so tragically off the rails. How many decades will have been wasted, and how many opportunities for progressive advances will have been squandered?

The World Trade Center spire was a poor object to have aspired to.

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