It will be 9/11 in a few hours, and I know that this 10 year mark since the tragedy will be a time for mourning and celebrating the American spirit.
For my part, I will mark this occasion by mourning the American spirit:
As we come upon the decade since 9/11, we find ourselves in the greatest political mess in 100 years - maybe more, and much of that I can trace directly to the mismanagement in the aftermath of the terror attack.
After Bush finally was pulled away from his goat book, and spent a few days flying around the country, running for his life, but not doing anything for American lives, he came back into the public eye and told us to do what Americans do in times of crisis - shop.
After that, the Republicans rifled through a bunch of legislation, as people looked elsewhere, that severely limited our Civil Liberties, and that deregulated banks. The result was that the Bush administration spied on American citizens and banks were allowed to practice predatory lending that resulted in the toxic assets that collapsed the economy.
Further destruction was wreaked as we were sucked into two wars, one on false pretenses and lies that resulted in countless lives lost and trillions of dollars wasted.
But perhaps the biggest tragedy was our emotional response:
We retreated in fear. We gave away our power as a people. We ostracized the Muslim community, and with this public embracement of racism, it reawakened a silent virus that had hovered, less seen, in the sickest members of our society. Now members of the Tea Party run on overtly racist platforms, saying that we are "at war with Islam," and promoting limitations on the Civil Rights Acts. They ran on vicios, racist lies about the president's national origin.
We allowed fear to permeate our society. We offered up our personal freedoms in exchange for protection that was never truly there.
We allowed the opening of illegal POW camps throughout the world, where Americans widely practiced torture, sometimes even on children. People were held in these camps with no charges and no trials. They were denied basic human rights.
One of the most basic things we could have done was care for the victims of 9/11, many of whom are sick and suffering after being exposed to the toxins created by the plume of ash that spewed from the falling towers. Instead, these basic rights and basic protections were denied by congress. Victims and their families had their phones bugged and were otherwise spied on and mistreated - even those we called the heroes.
So, I mourn the loss of the American spirit as I see the sad, frightened condition we live in, where so many suffer, while the wealthy pay no taxes. I mourn the condition our government has gotten into as members of the right have held the country hostage, and have sabotaged the functioning of our country in order to push through radical agendas and purposefully weaken the country in order to defeat a president whose primary flaw, in their eyes, is his race.
This is not the America I knew as a child, and this is not the America I want to know now.
So many of the problems we face now have their roots directly in 9/11, and the deplorable way the Bush administration mishandled this, milked it politically, and lied and cheated to us so often, breaking out faith in government at all.
I believe the terrorists have won, but not because of what they did, because of what we did.
We had the opportunity to overcome that tragedy, and build a stronger nation, and fortify the American character. Instead, we were manipulated, and the ugly qualities of the American people were nurtured turning us into who we are today.
The terrorists had no idea that they would bring forth the demon in ourselves by knocking over a few buildings.