No end in sight

Today marks the anniversary of 9/11. It was nine years ago today that the World Trade Center came down and the world changed. Changed mostly for the worst. And one way in which things have gotten worse is that the concept of freedom has lost all meaning.

Americans are taught from an early age that we’re lucky because we have freedom. This is certainly what I was taught. And furthermore, I was taught that the citizens of other countries are not really free, even if they think they are. Sure, they may have been told that they are free (by their oppressive governments) but they in fact are not free, but merely brainwashed. (This is in contrast to us Americans, who are not brainwashed at all.)

Freedom is, we are told, at the core of what it means to be an American. And so after 9/11, freedom was Bush’s rallying cry. “They hate us because we have freedom.” Then he took us to war using the preposterous idea that it would increase the freedoms of both Americans and those in the middle East.

Well, apparently Americans love war, because now — now that we’re winding one of the foreign wars down, we’re told that we need to wage another war. This war is a war against our own government, and again, freedom is the rallying cry. “Less government = More freedom”, we are told.

Apparently American-style government is at once so critically important that it must be applied to other countries by force, and yet so repugnant that we much fight it on our own soil.

And so what does “freedom” even mean anymore, now that the neo-cons and Tea Partiers have made minced-meat out of it?

Gun ownership? Yes. Reproductive rights? No. Freedom to pray in school? Yes. Freedom to build places of worship? Only if you’re a Christian. Freedom to pay some of the lowest taxes on earth? Absolutely. Freedom to decide when you’ve had enough of your own terminal illness? No way. Freedom to harass brown-skinned people? Actually that’s a requirement.

How about the freedom to brainwash your kids by homeschooling them so that they are never exposed to anything other that your own myopic vision of the world? Yes, definitely. And the freedom to have a world-class public education system so future generations of Americans have a common conceptual context so they can work together to compete on the global stage? Absolutely not.

This looks nothing like my understanding of freedom. And in the meanwhile, the very man who is responsible for 9/11 still has his.

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