September 11, 2010

Idiot of the Week (9/11 Edition)

When I clear my mind and think about 9/11, the first thing that pops into my head is an image, not unlike the one below. It arrives simultaneously with a few strong emotions: sadness, anger, and disgust. For me, the image has come to symbolize the fact that we do not have to look back to the Crusades, the Salem witch trials, or the era of Joe McCarthy to appreciate the dangers of religious extremism and public hysteria. We have U.S. troops evangelizing in occupied Muslim nations, Christian extremists bombing Planned Parenthood clinics, and yes, terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists.

imagine no religion

This week, I am assigning Idiot of the Week honors to those of us who allowed our civil liberties to be set aside out of fear, supported an unjust war because we wanted revenge, and continue to look the other way on torture for reasons I have not yet been able to comprehend. We suspended reason, and we continue to pay a high price for doing so. I realize that I am describing a large group of people here, and I am okay with that. You see, I hold out hope that many of us can learn from our mistakes and avoid making similar ones in the future. We may have screwed up, but we can redeem ourselves by realizing that and abandoning the destructive path of fear.

One statement I have come to despise almost as much as any religious saying is that "9/11 changed everything." No. We changed everything because we were afraid to the point where we weren't thinking clearly. We allowed abuses to happen, and we continue to do so. If this idiocy is permanent, it is because we choose to embrace it.