Our lives have changed dramatically with the demonic destruction of the World Trade Center in New York.
My iris ID card hangs around my neck like an albatross. Always part of my anatomy, an unwanted appendage that keeps me company everywhere I go, even in the shower. Soon technology will reduce it to a chip implanted in my skin. Like a bar coded loaf of bread in the supermarket, I can’t get by a scanner any direction I go.
First there was a dramatic increase of heavily armed guards and security barriers around buildings and public places. Then came walkthrough scanners similar to those in airports back in the beginning of the millennium. The airports had already gone to complete X rays of all persons and goods entering the three-mile perimeter compound fence. The ACLU balked at profiles and relented to threats from somewhere. Then the pols haggled about the ID’s but gave in to the plea for some semblance of sanity. Now we are into chips!
President Bush ordered destruction of three Arab nations, which later were found innocent of any complicity with the tragedy. He blustered and fussed and was impeached. Dick Cheney had a severe heart attack months before. Without a Vice President, Senate leader Dick Gebhart became President only to be shot by an upset conservative Republican during the election of 2003. Leaderless, the country wavered until the Bush cabinet took control and new elections could be called.
For months after the WTC destruction citizens in all parts of the country and the world were scared to death. When will the next act of terrorism occur and where? Today? Tomorrow? Next Week? In the US? In Israel? In Europe? In Japan? Transportation of people and materials, including by air was reduced to a crawl from over zealous security provisions and outright fear. The stock market crashed; wiping a magnitude of wealth and with it the banking system came to its knees.
Slowly governments everywhere established a sense of stability and with it the reduction of freedoms. Security measures abounded as laws passed were quickly implemented. Cost of governing swelled to purchase the systems and bureaucracy of the new Internal Security Department. The FBI and CIA had been blamed for lacking insight into terrorism threats and were disbanded. Neighborhood Watch, reporting to the ISD, became a tattle tale organization paralleling the worst of the Russian era. Don’t use the word gun, or shoot or bomb or you will be implicated and reported. Guns were confiscated by the ISD Gestapo much like the Germans confiscated grain and mills from the homes of Poles during WWII.
Multitudes walked the streets looking for work and food and shelter. Much of what existed was horded or stolen or lost in transit. Those lucky enough to be working saw a major part of their wages siphoned off by the bureaucracy in the name of security. Buildings and cities have taken on a gray, somber look.
I am one of the lucky ones. I stand guard at local airport on twelve hour, six-day shifts. I am paid regularly and can afford to eat and even take an occasional shower. We have water from 8 to 10 in the morning and 8 to 10 in the evening. It goes through rigorous testing at several points as it flows from the mountains to my house.
Ironically there has been no further terrorist acts in the United States. They brought the mightiest nation in the world to its knees. They accomplished what they wanted.
September 11, 2001: Providentially Americans are strong, overcoming fear—we will never forget.