In Defense Of The Pre-9/11 Mindset: 2020 Edition

[On September 11, 2006, I wrote an essay about how the American perception of its place in the world supposedly shifted after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I reprint it here today because much of it is still true. And in the midst of a historic election, Donald Trump has made fear his brand. He is exploiting the horror of another catastrophe, the coronavirus pandemic, to advance his selfish political interests.

While 9/11 is nearly twenty years in the past, there is a nightmare that we are all living through now that has already taken as many lives as 64 9/11’s due to Trump’s negligence, incompetence, and even deliberate and dishonest malfeasance. It, therefore, seems like an appropriate time to revisit these thoughts]


In September of 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney, in a sinister demonization of Democrats, warned that…

“if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and it will fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact, these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we’re not really at war.”

The Pre-9/11 Mindset is much maligned as mindsets go. Disdain is heaped upon it as if it were a discarded hypothesis. There is now a stigma associated with a worldview that was perfectly acceptable 24 hours prior. And a cadre of power hungry fear merchants is restlessly hawking the notion that everything we thought we knew has withered into irrelevance. The Post-9/11ers propose that an imaginary line has been drawn that illuminates the moral and intellectual differences between those who stand on one side or the other. So what exactly does it mean to be 9/10ish?

I remember clearly what was on my mind. I was still upset that a pretend cowboy, whose intellectual marbles rattled around vacantly in his 2 gallon hat, had gotten away with stealing an election. I was recalling, with renewed appreciation, an era of domestic surplus and international cooperation. Or as The Onion headline put it when Bush was first elected, “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over.”

9/11 was undoubtedly an unwelcome milestone in American history. But the idea that everything changed on that day is shallow and puerile. The history of human civilization reveals that we simply do not change that much from one century to the next. And the events that actually do precipitate change are rarely the ones we presume them to be. There was terrorism before 9/11. There were birthdays and funerals and parking tickets and snow cones and life’s everyday extraordinary spectrum of pleasure no matter how painful.

What changed was that a nation that was once perceived to be inviolable and courageous was now seen as vulnerable and afraid. Like a child lost in a crowd, America was searching for a guardian, but what we got was no angel. As President Bush took to the mound of rubble for his megaphone moment, he was not alone. He was accompanied by a media that sought to construct a hero where none stood. I must admit that it was an ambitious undertaking considering the weakness of the raw material. They took an inarticulate, persistently mediocre, dynastic runt, who on September tenth was considered by many to be Crawford’s lost idiot, and transformed him into a statesman overnight. The enormity of this achievement underscores the power of the media.

My Pre-9/11 Mindset was thrust into fear on that transitory day because I knew that the imbecile we were stuck with in the White House was incapable of reacting appropriately to the threat. I remember vainly trying to persuade previously reasonable people that if they thought Bush was a moron the day before, there was nothing in his breakfast that infused him with wisdom on that sad morning.

What transpired since has, regrettably, proven me right. We toppled the Taliban but let the 9/11 commander escape. Now the remnants of the Taliban are rising again and creating havoc in an unprepared and unstable Afghanistan. We were misled into an unrelated conflagration in Iraq via fear and deception. Now tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been liberated – liberated from the confines of their physical bodies. It’s too bad that these liberated corpses will be unable to march in the parades celebrating their liberation. A world that had nothing but sympathy for us after 9/11, is now repulsed by our arrogance. At home we are paying for our adventures by burdening the next few generations with a record debt. And we pay a much greater price in the cost of lost liberties, courtesy of a despotic cabal in Washington that has more trust in fear than it does in our Constitution.

The historical revisionists that cast the Pre-9/11 Mindset as a pejorative are blind to its inherent virtue. The Pre-9/11 Mindset honors civil liberties and human rights. It recognizes real threats and inspires the courage to face them. It demands responsibility and accountability from those who manage our public affairs. It condemns preemptive warfare and torture. The Pre-9/11 Mindset is not consumed with fear, division, and domination. It is rooted in reality with its branches facing the sunrise.

The Pre-9/11 Mindset is superior in every aspect to the Post-9/11 apocalyptic nightmare that has been thrust upon us. Its adoption is, in fact, our best hope for crawling out from under the shroud that drapes our national psyche. Vice President Cheney also said that…

“Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness.”

If that’s true, then the terrorists must have perceived the weakness of the Bush administration and considered it an invitation to launch their attack. How do you suppose they perceive us now? They’ve seen the passage of the Patriot Act that limits long-held freedoms. They’ve seen our government listening in on our phone calls and monitoring our financial transactions. They see us lining up at airport terminals shoeless and forced to surrender our shampoo and Evian water. They see us mourning the loss of our sons and daughters who are not even engaged in battle with the 9/11 perpetrators. They see us as fearful and submissive. Is this not emboldening the terrorists for whom this perception of weakness will be seen as yet another invitation to attack?

Yes, I have a Pre-9/11 Mindset and it is not a yearning for a simpler bygone era of harmony. You could hardly call the maiden year of this century simple or harmonious. I have a Pre-9/11 Mindset because I’ve had it all along; all through the Post-9/11 defeatism and scare-mongering; through the war posturing and false bravado; through the sordid attempts to divide Americans and vilify dissenters; through the bigotry and arrogance of those who believe that their way is the right way and the world will concur as soon as we’re done beating it into them. I have a Pre-9/11 Mindset because I have not let the Post-9/11 Mindset infect my spirit with its yearning for a bygone era that more closely resembles the Dark Ages than the Renaissance.

Pre-9/11 Mindset Post-9/11 Mindset
Enduring Peace Perpetual War
Prosperity Poverty and Debt
Civil Rights The Patriot Act
Human rights Torture
Accountability Corruption
Reality Fear

I have a Pre-9/11 Mindset because I have a mind, and I use it. America has a decision to make in less than two months. Let’s hope we make the right one and elect a president who will console us, inspire us, and unite us. We need healing, honesty, and competence now more than ever. And we must not allow Trump to have another four years to shred our Constitution and drive us apart. COVID-19 is Trump’s 9/11. Never forget.


4 thoughts on “In Defense Of The Pre-9/11 Mindset: 2020 Edition

  1. Read the August 6th, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing read to GW Bush by Condaleeza Rice, his very own hand-picked National Security Adviser. Read it and ask why GW Bush then went on Vacation, after only 7 months on the Job. It clearly outweighs any “Benghazi Crap”, yet the Family Values Republicans never investigated it.

    • Rethugs, now & then, excel at shoving their shit ‘under the rug’ ~ out of view & too soon forgotten. Dems allow this to happen. Repeatedly. Stupidly.

      Why? That I don’t know. It sure isn’t so Rethugs will return the favor – hell no! Rethugs do not reciprocate in any way & attack every little tiny thing a Dem does, as if it’s a major problem, or a crime. You know, the type Rethugs do without even a 2nd thought. They ARE thugs — Rethugs.

      I’m sure that what we find out about Rethugs is NOT all there is, just all that we stumble over & so, find. The rest is forever hidden & any proof is shredded at late-nite shredding parties. In which case, WH shredders will be working double-time to shred what little of Trump’s doings may actually have paperwork. Like his Daily Schedule. That, which has new category of, “Executive Time”, which takes up vast swaths of time out of each day. Must be very important work being done then, eh? Sure…IF watching FauxNews in his pj’s, eating KFC & other junk & tweeting out hate-filled rants, lies & threats, is what you call important. I predict they’ll shred those, rather than have documented evidence of just HOW LITTLE TIME each day, most days, Trump actually spent doing “presidential stuff”. Is ‘President of the USA’ a part-time job? Part-time of part-time job? Will they ‘pad’ the daily Trump schedule to make it LOOK LIKE he was busy? Probably, yes. Any pages not shredded anyway.
      Never mind that shredding any of the paperwork from presidency is ILLEGAL. “Ha!” Compares to a traffic ticket, with all the real violations Trump & his henchmen have been doing these past 4yrs! Official presidential records & documents belong to “the people”. Do you think that will matter 1 bit to THIS Asshole-in-chief?? Ha-ha. How ‘cute’ if you believe that. NOT SO CUTE, actually. Cuz’ that’s how LIARS, criminals & con-men get elected (&/or they cheat to get in).
      Obviously, he does NOT want to DO THE JOB! He obviously cannot do the job! WHO IS THEN?? Ask yourself WHY Trump is running again?! Ask WHY Rethugs have NO ONE BETTER to run for highest office in the land?!?
      Ask yourself WHY his Congressional cohorts are standing by SILENTLY, supporting a man who CANNOT & WILL NOT do the job?! He LIES non-stop; violates our laws; acts as a dictator; has destroyed our “Main St.” economy, our jobs & the American lifestyle; alienated our allies; betrayed our troops; & has (so far) KILLED almost 200,000 Americans with his “Trump Virus”!?!
      Trump has NO known agenda, beyond eviscerating Social Security, Medicare & USPS.
      Voters from both sides of the ‘Trump divide’ need to come together & do what is right for US, our people, our Country & the world. And that is to VOTE HIM OUT!
      We need a REAL President, a leader ~ NOT a “Pretender Prez” who promotes hatred & violence! We all deserve better than that! Stand up for American values…for our people…for our military…for truth, justice & a strong working class economy…for clean air & water…for GOOD LIFE that we ALL deserve…& so much more!!!
      For you, your children & grandchildren…for the entire planet…SEND TRUMP HOME! Before it’s too late to save ourselves from future he has planned for us.

  2. Hey MarkNC ~ thanks for sharing your insight from a mere 5yrs after 9/11.
    You already had eyes wide open & mind fully in gear, even then.
    So much has happened & so much changed in U.S. since that time!
    Prior to “W’s” appointment by SCOTUS, I knew basic newsworthy stuff, but was more into local news & specific topics I cared about. That all changed when “W”/Cheney took over! Any remnant of my innocence was cruelly yanked away & I was thrown, head-first, into the deep-end of (dirty) pool of politics & “such shit”!
    The more I found out, the more I had to know. I became well-versed on disgusting topics such as, Bush/Cheney, U.S. politics, Karl Rove, 9/11, Al Quaeda, Iraqi war & so much more! I’d never be the same person after that.
    That’s when I 1st became aware of how poorly TV news actually “informed”. Real news & details had to be read, not watched. I miss the light-hearted days of innocence & thinking that the world was under control & that USA was always “good guys”, so I had no reason to worry. “Everything in good hands” & I could just carry on with my own life; “not to worry”. Dang! I REALLY MISS those days!!!
    9/11 was an eye-opening event, but took me quite a while to get up to speed.

    I understand why some people don’t want to know the truth of what’s going on in life, U.S., the world. It’s ugly. Hard to believe. Too big to do much about. Full of stuff I don’t want to know! I have enuff to deal with in my own little life….all the above & more.
    But dagnabbit, if I have to know this stuff, then they should to! Same evil entities as back then, are here in force now. Scary shit! They’re stronger, better prepared & worse than ever!
    I don’t have any answers, but do know that TRUMP MUST GO & GOP TOO!
    I sure miss the innocence I once had. Hate the deep end of the filthy political swamp!

Comments are closed.