Harris: The Remembrance of 9/11

We should not let the shadows of the past destroy our present lives.

by Holden Harris | 3/2/17 12:30am

I was only 3 years old that day. I was at home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, watching cartoons. An abrupt, loud, repeating noise silenced my show with letters racing across the screen. It said “Emergency” in bold red colors. The screen switched to a news announcement of some sort. That was the first glimpse I had of the twin towers, black smoke covering the tips of the screen. Being an innocent 3 year old, I assumed it was part of the program. At the time, I only knew that Sept. 11 was supposed to be a happy day, but my mother’s birthday had to take the back seat to a large scale terrorist attack.

9/11 was no doubt a tragic event in United States history. In New York, just mentioning “9/11” causes heads to turn. Only after growing up did I fully understand what this tragedy meant. I may not have been personally affected, but I have close friends who have lost family in the chaos. 9/11 left a bread crumb trail throughout my life. That day sparked a furiously raging fire that the United States maintained and fueled to fight terrorism across the globe at a much larger scale than before. This is what we thought the country needed: to hold someone or something responsible for this unthinkable event. But, plain and simple, we wanted revenge. We commenced new wars to seek out vengeance. A large amount of our military’s strength used to annihilate this terrorist group like it was a stain on a carpet, but like any stain, it was hard to get rid of. What the public really wanted was the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for our tragedy. It wasn’t until Barack Obama’s presidency that he was finally killed. Our streets were overrun by ecstatic citizens rejoicing, but this vendetta grew larger than expected. After a while, we started to lose sight of the real perpetrators and found hatred for a generalized group — those who practice Islam.

We made the enemy not just the terrorist groups, but all of those who follow Islam, which is why I am seriously concerned for anyone who openly manifests such beliefs. I have seen Muslims verbally attacked on the street by strangers. In subways, I’ve heard friends express fear because a man wearing a turban walked on the train. It is truly astonishing how a turban can make people scared. You can almost feel their expressed disgust toward these free-practicing people.

Now, in 2017, we have elected a man that reeks of racism, sexism, fraud, and well, the list goes on. The fact is, this man’s election shows me that this country’s “progress” was just gilding the truth about modern racism. I had believed we were taking steps toward equality these last eight years with Obama, but within only two months, we have lunged right back into the same prejudice we started from.

President Donald Trump issued a ban against seven countries known to have a high concentration of Muslims. Trump proclaimed, “The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.” This may prevent terrorism from entering our country, but we also restrict the innocent. Luckily this ban was batted down by judges for being “unconstitutional,” but Trump is fighting to bring the ban back to action.

I understand that this country will never forget 9/11 or the other terrorist attacks that followed, but fear cannot dictate our actions any longer. Fear of the past is poisoning this country. Trump used the fear of American citizens to win the presidential election. Now that he is our president, he continues to use fear to consolidate his unconstitutional actions. Let us not forget that this country was founded on freedom of religion and the idea that “all men are created equal.” We have disowned these values to foster discrimination, and there will be ramifications. For every step we take in the wrong direction, the more we lose the title of “greatest country on earth.”