“Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction.” Ronald Reagan
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3000 people, most of whom were our fellow Americans, and the full impact of that monumental day in our history has yet to be realized. It’s worthwhile, however, to take stock of how it shaped America in 2021. It appears that the targeted attack on America was successful beyond the terrorists’ wildest dreams.
On 9/11, we were shaken to our very cores, aroused from our malaise, and saw the end of an “Age of Innocence.” Immediately after 9/11, the country grieved, mourned, and came together in a way rarely seen in our history. There was a groundswell of patriotism, as millions of American homes proudly displayed the flag and every other car on the road seemed to have flag images attached to the rear window or bumper.
Countless young Americans enlisted in the armed forces while a widely reproduced editorial cartoon depicted an NYC police officer and fireman superimposed over the NYC skyline. Underneath was the caption: “The NEW twin towers of New York City.”
How far we have come since those heady post 9/11 days when the country stood united, even if only briefly. Today, the radical left seems to be in control and we are experiencing a psychological affliction where everything we had previously held sacred, has been turned upside down.
Today, our children are being taught to judge one another by the color of their skin and police officers are subject to scorn and hate. Police Departments across the nation are being defunded while crime skyrockets, homelessness soars, and tens of thousands of Americans die annually, thanks to the drugs pouring over our now open Southern border, along with hundreds of thousands of unvetted illegal aliens, many of them COVID positive, from over 150 countries every month.
We have established a welfare state where creativity, initiative, and the desire to succeed have given way to idleness, sloth, indolence, and the pursuit of pleasure. Our previously held value system is no longer held in high esteem. Ideas such as individual responsibility, the nuclear family, religious observance, patriotism, and love of country are outdated and ridiculed.
The family unit is being superseded by the state as the sole provider of succor and sustenance, while all religious traditions (except Islam) have been degraded. We have succeeded in replacing the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with a more appropriate updated version: Identity Politics, Wokeness, Cancel Culture, and Critical Race Theory.
Our history continues to be subject to revision and our education system has become the far left’s propaganda tool. Our higher learning institutions are fertile breeding grounds for anti-America hate.
The flag, which millions of Americans so proudly displayed after 9/11, is now regarded as a symbol of repression and racism, while the national anthem is mocked. Entire teams at major sporting events routinely “take a knee” when The Star-Spangled Banner plays.
The national debt is soaring and energy prices spiking, while the inflation tax is taking an ever-increasing bite out of our income.
On a single day, January 20, 2021, we went from being an energy-independent nation to a dependent one, as Joe Biden, with the stroke of a pen, virtually shut down domestic energy production. The signs are all unmistakable. The United States of America is dying; the threads that hold us together as a civilization are unraveling.
The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks produced a curious attitude among some Americans who began to question who was really at fault. In an act that can only be described as self-flagellation, there were those who determined that we ourselves were.
The Bush administration added fuel to the fire by refusing to dwell on the origins, motives, and religious affiliation of the attackers, calling them instead terrorists or extremists. The Obama administration expanded on this idea, ruling out all references to Islam and Muslims in its daily briefings, training manuals, and operations.
How can you fight an enemy you cannot even name? Given current trends, it may very well come to pass that in years to come, even the terms “terrorist” and “extremist” will be deemed unacceptable. Perhaps Congresswoman Ilhan Omar gave us a possible glimpse of this new narrative when she stated that on September 11, 2001, “Some people … did something.”
Although we did not realize it at the time, September 11, 2001, marked the beginning of a paradigm shift in American thought, ideas, and opinions away from traditional American values to a more leftist approach. This was especially true among young people.
Our youth will bear most of the burden of the inevitable changes that will ensue. They will be the first of a new “Lost Generation” unable to achieve the same standard of living as their parents did.
The subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the disillusionment following the “Arab Spring” Movement’s failure to create meaningful change only added to the psychological apathy we were undergoing. After 20 years, trillions of dollars spent, thousands of lives lost, and tens of thousands of others wounded, what do we have to show for all that sacrifice? In our hubris, we believed that an area of the world deeply immersed in Tribalism, Sectarianism, and Fundamentalism would want to embrace our value system.
We are now paying the price for our stupidity, arrogance, and incompetence. All our efforts have come to naught, not just in Afghanistan but throughout the Middle East. Libya, Yemen, and Iraq are, for all practical purposes, failed nation-states where various terrorist groups are re-grouping and have re-emerged as viable forces, while the conflict in Syria has resulted in as many as one million dead with millions more displaced.
As for Afghanistan, despite Joe Biden’s claim that the evacuation was an “extraordinary success,” it was, in fact, a complete debacle. In our haste to leave, we walked out leaving an untold number of our own citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind. Afghanistan under the Taliban will once again become a haven for terrorists—only now, they are far more powerful since they are the beneficiaries of $83B worth of some of the most sophisticated military equipment on Earth.
Twenty years after 9/11, we are far weaker and more divided than ever before. Pax Americana’s collapse has created a vacuum that our enemies are only too happy to fill. Our standing among the nations of the world is greatly diminished. Our enemies regard us with disdain and contempt, while our allies, wary and afraid, might soon seek some form of accommodation with our adversaries.
We introduced and maintained substantial military forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, ostensibly with the goal of fighting terrorism, but that mission quickly morphed into nation-building, a task for which we were unprepared and ill-equipped. We failed to recognize that the war on terror is, in fact, a low-level, multi-generational conflict. It requires succeeding generations to secure our borders and maintain extra vigilance.
We now bear a stark resemblance to Imperial Rome and the Soviet Union in the last years before their inevitable collapse. Perhaps this is the fate of all great civilizations. The late, eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee stated it best when he wrote: “Civilizations, I believe, come to birth and proceed to grow by successfully responding to successive challenges. They break down and go to pieces if and when a challenge confronts them which they fail to meet.”
American Thinker is a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans. Contributors are accomplished in fields beyond journalism and animated to write for the general public out of concern for the complex and morally significant questions on the national agenda.