Mark Haim is the director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks.
One September morning, eleven years ago, as many of us prepared for our day, or were on our way to work, we got the news of a tragic and criminal series of events. The loss of life was shocking, with roughly 3,000 people dying. The overall impact was, however, far, far greater, leading to hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million deaths.
We were told, virtually immediately, and with incessant repetition, that “this changes everything,” and that “now we are at war.” We watched in horror as the footage of the Twin Towers’ collapse was played, over and over and over again on virtually every television station, grinding the emotional trauma in, imprinting it indelibly on our memories.
The crimes of 9/11 have been used to justify two tragic and illegal wars. Voices of those questioning the nature of these horrific acts — criminal actions or acts of war — were excluded from the public debate. The Bush administration never even considered using international law to address the situation. Rather, with broad bipartisan support, it rushed our nation headlong into an invasion of Afghanistan that has led to the longest war in our nation’s history, one that is still costing countless lives and $2 billion each week.
Framing a complex situation in simplistic, good-versus-evil terms, the Bush administration seized the opportunity to broadly expand their own power. With the nation wrapped in fear, they pushed through the PATRIOT Act and undertook programs of domestic spying that seriously eroded our civil liberties.
Further, they conflated Iraq and Saddam Hussein with the crimes of 9/11 and used this as leverage to press for a second tragic and illegal war in a blatant attempt to dominate the Persian Gulf region with its enormous oil and gas deposits. Clearly, they’ve exploited these events to divert to the Military-Industrial Complex hundreds of billions of dollars annually; funds sorely needed to meet human and environmental needs, and to invest in a sustainable future for all.
We can no longer afford to allow the post-9/11 fears to be used to misdirect our nation. We need to come together to make a clear statement to our community, to our elected officials and to all who will listen: We say “No More Victims!’ We insist that the cycle of violence end now.
We will gather at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11 in front of the Boone County Courthouse. We will hold a candlelight vigil and reflect on moving forward toward a more peaceful future. Our speakers are the Rev. Maureen Dickmann, pastor of Rock Bridge Christian Church, and Dr. Rashed Nizam, Chair of the Board of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri. Music will be provided by Caravan. If you share these sentiments, we hope you will join us there.