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DAVID ROSMAN: Terrorism has defined America since 9/11

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | 2:41 p.m. CDT; updated 2:16 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 11, 2011

When teaching eulogies as special occasion speeches, I explain that such speeches contain four parts: an expression of mutual grief because of the loss; an expression of praise for the one(s) who died; a consoling of the audience; and a vision of a better future because of the life or lives lost.

It is quite unfortunate that final step has not come to pass in the 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001. We have become a nation living in deeper fear then ever.

Terrorism is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as an act intended “(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or; (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.”

Using this definition, it appears that the Taliban and al-Qaida have met their basic goals. The attacks on U.S. soil met all three of Black’s criteria, and the nation continues to be a state living in fear, paranoia and intimidation.

Not in the same sense as when Americans feared the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea and North Vietnam, making all Communists the “evildoers” of their day. Those conflicts were mere continuations of World War II. Different enemies, same theaters.

However, the United States survived in relative peace for years after the Vietnam War, with only a few small conflicts and U.N. and NATO cooperative missions. For three decades, our lives were defined not by war, but by commerce. Life was good on Sept. 10, 2001.

What happened after our “day that will live in infamy” saddens me to no end. The United States became instantly paranoid and, to some extent, rightfully so. Like Dec. 7, 1941, we were caught off guard.

The government did not protect the U.S. and her citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. The difference was in the years immediately following 2001, the nation badly overreacted.

Congress set into motion an “us vs. them” mentality beginning with the passage of the USA Patriot Act; the public suddenly became aware of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — though it had existed since 1978 — and domestic spying.

We established the Office of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. We expanded law enforcement tools and reduced basic freedoms for Americans. 

Liberals and conservatives alike were afraid to scream that many of these actions may violate the Constitution for fear of being called unpatriotic.

All were designed to prevent future terrorism. All succeeded in increasing paranoia. All had the consent of a paranoid-driven Congress and American people.

It continues today with the anti-immigration laws in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama.

It continues with the bellowing comments of propaganda and rage that have just enough truth to get past media scrutiny.

It continues with the tightening of immigration laws and the building of fences to keep "them" out, at least those from Mexico and points south seeking a better life in the U.S.

It continues with the news organizations, some more so than others, using religion, skin color and national origin as a descriptor of evil.

It continues with the anti-immigration websites, anti-government conspiracy websites, anti-Muslim websites and anti-Arab websites.

It continues because of a collective selective memory and a move toward an isolationist agenda.

We've all forgotten the words of President Bush when he told the American people and the Joint Session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, that Islam is not the enemy and that America will not live in fear.

“It is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.”

It is so unfortunate that the president was wrong. Terrorism has defined the American dream and America’s future since that sunny late summer day in New York, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.

We have become a nation living in fear.

David Rosman will be interviewed at 5 p.m. Sunday on KOPN's "Core Issues" with host Tyree Byndom. Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.


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Comments

Eric Cox September 7, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

It was like a different world, a better one, we've been losing for a decade now. We have lost more young men and women in the war on terror then we lost on 9\11, and we have killed hundreds of thousands. America used to be better than this.

(Report Comment)
Jim Jones September 7, 2011 | 4:48 p.m.

David, I disagree that we in the USA are living in fear of the terrorists. I am more in fear of what TSA and the Patriot Act is going to do to us next. If I am in fear of anything it is the stupidity of our elected 'leaders'. My feelings about the people who perpetrated the horror on 9/11 is more anger than fear.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 8, 2011 | 2:58 a.m.

Statistically, the risk of being killed by terrorist attack is far less than driving, bathing, or climbing stairs. Your plane is far more likely to crash than it is to be destroyed by terror attack. If anyone fears dying in a terrorist attack, it's not a rational fear.

THere's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that helps us track snd avoid terrorist attacks that were not done (or not seriously) before 9/11, and by and large, they're working. Where's the terror?

DK

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson September 8, 2011 | 12:01 p.m.

Is one of the awards that " award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor" David Rosman has received, for hyperbole? Based on this column, I'd think one should be awarded to him for such, if one has not already.

As the Python players used to say, "And now for something completely different":
http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2...

And more on the mark, in my humble, non-award-winning opinion.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen September 8, 2011 | 12:43 p.m.

Education and profession have had me dealing with emotional dysfuntion for about 25 years. Without going through my long spiel about fear, there are a few observations:

We live with more fear (and anger) than we are aware of.

Fear and love are the two strongest motivators for human behavior. If you don't cultivate love you give yourself to fear.

Our government, as have many throughout history, has managed our fears over the last decade in order to accomplish agendas they wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Cultivating a society by loving is more difficult, but I prefer it to living in fear.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman September 10, 2011 | 10:36 a.m.

I find it quite interesting that Mr. Robertson says nothing about the statements made in the column, but an attempt to riducule me.

All opinion writers and personalities use hyperbole to make their point. Your saying that I did this quite well is, in my opinion, a high complement.

My awards, as with anyone else's, have nothing to do with my opinion, only my authority to give those opinions. The awards are factual and cannot be dismissed.

My opinions are based on my interpretation of those facts. If your's are different, please feel free to write them.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger September 10, 2011 | 11:15 a.m.

Mr. Rosman: It's hard to believe you posted this. The typos and errors are manifold:"riducule," "complement," "your's." Hone those proofreading skills, Mr. "award-winning editor [and] college instructor"!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 10, 2011 | 12:49 p.m.

@hank ottinger:

It appears that the post in question was either written by an engineer or by someone who does not speak or write English as their first language ("complement" versus "compliment", for example).

Not certain what the standards for freshman English papers are today but in my student days this would have been a failure.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 10, 2011 | 1:23 p.m.

Fear vs. Terrorism and Air Travel - Some Numbers:

Annual domestic departures: ~10,000
Annual domestic passengers: ~800,000
Average passengers per flight: ~80
Passenger capacity of "Jumbo" jets: ~350

People killed in OKC terrorist attack: ~200
People killed in 9/11 terrorist attack: ~4,000
US citizens killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: ~6,050

People killed in domestic automobile accidents, 2010: ~33,000
Total domestic automobile deaths since 9/11: ~350,000

For air travel to become anywhere near as deadly as driving an automobile, terrorists would have to take down more than an average flight every single day. They would have to take down a jumbo jet flight every 3-4 days.

Yet, people blithely jump in their cars with little fear, while we hand the DHS nearly $60 Billion per year (currently), of which about $9 Billion goes to the TSA for air passenger screening. Air screening includes the intrusive pat-downs and X-ray machine imaging, to "keep us safe."

Face it, this is *NOT* rational risk assessment.

This is being successfully terrorized.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson September 11, 2011 | 10:33 a.m.

Mr. Rosman: I am glad to have written something you found quite interesting. I find your columns quite interesting, as well. Hopefully, you were able to get over my "riducule" of you, and read the link I posted, which presents a bit of a different take on the decade since the atrocities of September 11, 2001, than does your thought-provoking piece, here.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman September 11, 2011 | 1:26 p.m.

Mr. Robertson ~ Yes, I read it and founding it interesting. This is were the discussions concerning the present mindset of the American People starts.

As far as the editing is concerned, that is the Missourian's final responsibility. Usually, these short bios are not mean to always be complete sentences. And sometimes I can blame everything on my dyslexia, including my wife's broken fingernail and the worldwide financial crisis. Sometimes not.

Anyways, I all ways chek my spleink and gramma. (:~)

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson September 11, 2011 | 4:32 p.m.

I do not agree with, nor will I defend, each and every action and reaction by our government, in response to the attacks of Sept. 11. But by and large, I think it is overstretch to say that we are "a state living in fear, paranoia and intimidation", as Mr. Rosman claims.

The Patriot Act has yet to be struck down as unconstitutional by our SCOTUS. It has been extended and renewed by legislators of both parties. FISA was badly in need of being brought up to date, to accomodate the evolution of global electronic communications. (I checked back, and was unable to locate any of my snarky website comments about Jimmy Carter from 1978.)

There is a big difference between being "anti-Muslim" and being opposed to radical, political Islamism. There is a big difference between being "anti-immigration" and being opposed to illegal immigration.

Certainly, it is just as over-reactive to see a potential terrorist in the shadow of every college-town minaret, as it is to claim we are a "nation living in fear." My personal opinion falls far from either pole.

(Report Comment)

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