I’ve not been to America for 2 years, and I was just wondering what the land of the free is like now. Is there a feeling of more security and safety or more of confusion and living in the shadow of terror? Whats going on in America I’d like to know. Thanx
Personally, I don’t feel any more (or less) secure than I did September 10. Life is pretty much back to normal in most of the country, except that I feel like we are less free and the Fascist Attorney General Ashcroft wants to turn this country into a police state, fingerprint everyone, and issue internal passports.
I have to disagree with the pejoratives in the assessment of Broomstick. Even if AG Ashcroft were tending toward the Draconian, there are sufficient checks and balances to keep him in place. That hasn’t definitely changed.
What has changed is that the government is now embarassingly well aware of how uncoordinated and inefficient its various intelligence, police, and border control agencies are. Now that this is general knowledge, people generally (so I beleive) want to have the promises of security realized. The image that the FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, INS, etc. have put out is that they’re really good at knowing what goes on, identifying and catching bad guys, and watching the gates, and so on; the events of 9/11 show that while each has a piece of this collective security job, there are gaps between the pieces big enough to fly a hijacked airliner through.
In sum, my opinion is that people definitely don’t want a police state (more police and more severe policing laws) and so on; they want their existing police to get on the ball and do what they are so well paid to do. There is considerable disgust that this was not the case before 9/11.
9/11 was a wake-up call that we can’t and shouldn’t assume that “it can’t happen here”. And it would have been much less likely to happen here if the resources we have and had worked together more efficiently and effectively.
9/11 happened the way it did because:
- Various agencies knew someting was up, but none of them worked together to put the picture together.
- Most everyone in positions of power in these agencies assumed no one would launch a terrorist attack, especially a large scale one, inside the US (even though essentially the same group of actors had tried to destroy the WTC before).
General Questions is for questions with factual answers; IMHO is for opinions and polls.
I’ll move this to IMHO for you.
DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator
It is funny that we classify one of the most robust and diverse economies and governments as “embarrassing” in any regard.
Room for improvement? Yes. Learn from mistakes? We should.
But what we sit on here in the U.S. in terms of intelligence and security, etc, etc is mind-boggingly complex. It’s the nature of our society that we place ourselves at risk to enjoy what we have.
That being said…
Most people here recognize all our strengths, and realize that while Ashcroft pulls obsenely hard in one police state direction, someone will keep him in check. We trust our system will have mistakes, be exposed and be better for it. That actually makes us feel “normal”. Exposing mistakes, finding out something went wrong behind government doors is very ‘normal’ and comforting in a way. It’s ok - we’re used to it - it means things are working.
It’s why consumers spend and spend and spend obscene amounts of money on frivolous things. The Dems are fighting with the Republicans? FBI lacks this? CIA lacks that? Bush is this…Gore would be that? HAH! THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF THE USA - We are working…we are here. If that went away, people would sense serious crisis…serious. We were scared when everyone kissed Bush ass (and I’m a republican)…it wasn’t NORMAL - it meant, “Holy SHIT - we are in trouble - if it’s this serious that all our regular business in politics has been redefined, we are in deep shit!”
But that passed. Fairly quicky? Are we stupid? Are we careless? NO! We know what is normal…and we are ok with it.
We succeed - and we are confident without being arrogant now.
On a practical level, airport security is MUCH MUCH tighter and no one complains if they get frisked or their bag searched. (You used to hear bitching and moaning if there was a delay at security). Conspicuously armed National Guardsmen are in all the airports, which is very strange as Americans are not used to seeing military personel armed with rifles just hanging about.
I would say that Hello Again’s practical observations are true. Also, Broomstick’s concerns about the rise of more “fascist” behavior seem real and as much of a reflection of our more conservative government’s reaction to the attack - and being able to using it to their political ends - than anything.
What is difficult to measure is the economy. I live in New York, and the economy is still very down, regardless of stock performance or other indicators. People are scared for their jobs, period. Within that context, the aftermath of 9/11 takes on an additional…grayness?
I am curious as to what would happen if either: a) the economy recovered and there are no other significant terrorist attacks in the U.S.; or b) the economy remains down, and there are additional attacks. With the former, we could see a fading of the “9/11 effect”, with the exception of honoring key dates and events. With the latter, we could really see the U.S. curl into the fetal position, with an even worsening economy and more conservative behavior.
All IMHO - I would be interested in other points of view…
It’s much flaggier.
where i live, except for the tacky plastic flags on car antennas that get poor reception of fester-rock, and the poorly-made “God bless America” T-shirts from China that bar-crawlers wear 5 out of 7 days, you wouldn’t ever know anything out the ordinary had ever happened on that day, a day not unlike today, with the omnipresent sun beating its luminescience on the faux-leather interior of K-Cars and Mini-vans. (i live in a cave in the middle of nowhere, on an alkali flat, surrounded by sheep and wallabies and rocks and dirt and coyotes that prowl the sage and scratch the dirt and sniff the air and howl in the night.)
Oh, sorry! Been reading too much Hemingway…
"If you don’t give me oral sex, the TERRORISTS HAVE ALREADY WON!!
A lot more American flags are flying, or are displayed in windows. At one time in my city about every third house had a flag on display somewhere.
More thorough processing and searches at airports. The grommets on my hiker boots set off the metal detector, and I was asked to take them off so they could be X-rayed.
Somehow, 9/11 is mentioned in almost every national news story. Even lifestyle articles.
Other than that, not much difference to everyday life. I live in a medium size city in the Middle West, a place unlikely to be a target of foreign terrorists.
All of the above. Also, I would add that it was a very, very weird vibe when I was in NY in December. I hadn’t been there in a year or so; I noted that:
a) Wall Street, at midafternoon on a Friday right before Christmas, was nearly empty. No wait to get into a restaurant at lunchtime. Part of this is because of the economy in NY in general, and part, of course, is that probably 20,000 people who used to work in lower Manhattan don’t anymore, between exploding buildings, layoffs, and companies moving operations elsewhere.
b) New Yorkers were actually nice and helpful to each other for once! And even to me, someone who probably looked like a tourist, even though I lived there for 3 years!
c) When we drove in through the Tunnel, all the toll booth collectors were wearing latex gloves. Also, they were searching all trucks, most cabs, and the car of pretty much any driver wearing a turban.
d) Also, be prepared to have your immigration docs checked a bit more carefully than before…
In general, it was a big, and IMHO desperately needed, wakeup call. Words cannot express how sorry I am that it happened this way, but the lack of coordination among America’s various law/border enforcement agencies has been a disaster waiting to happen for a long time.
We were pretty dazed and disillusioned in the immediate aftermath; many people had trouble sleeping and concentrating, and prescriptions for antianxiety and antidepresant drugs, especially in NY and DC, went through the roof. (And let’s not even talk about Cipro, which is used to treat anthrax!)
It’s worn off some, but I don’t think life here will ever be quite the same. I’ve been searched EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve gotten on a plane since 9/11, and I was born in the U.S., have a pretty boring name, and buy my tround-trip tickets in advance with a credit card. I ascribe it to my vaguely Middle Eastern appearance, but that’s a rant for another day…
People of middle-eastern descent (and those who merely look it) are more and more paranoid these days.
Non-middle-eastern Americans’ ignorance about Islam and Muslem hasn’t really changed, except the folks with the most ignorance tend to be the loudest in proclaiming their ignorance. Visit any Yahoo! message board for proof. :rolleyes:
Well, starting last year and continuing on until the end of time, most people will spend my friend Colleen’s birthday crying and praying. To my knowledge, we never did that before her birthday on 2001.
We hurt. We’re in pain. We cry, we rage, we ask why, and we hurt. And we hope. And we don’t STOP hoping. And we try. Every day.
Yeah, it might sound corny, but it’s what gets ME through the night…
I’d have to say that’s the biggest day-to-day change that comes close to affecting me. We’re flagged up pretty good.
I’ve only flown twice since Sept 11, and besides having to get to the airport a little earlier, and showing ID at the gate when boarding the plane, even the travel experience hasn’t changed much. The National Guardsmen walking around with the huge rifles (often longer than the height of the person carrying it) is a sight to see, though.
If I wear a beard, I look VERY middle-eastern. One change I guess is that I’ve been careful to be very clean-shaven on days I fly.
I always try to be clean-shaven. But heck, I’m a chick.
Can’t do much about the olive-y skin tone, the Semitic-looking features, or the dark, frizzy, ethnic-looking hair. Well, I guess I could shave my head, but I don’t think that would help matters much.
Well, I’ve noticed the flags, too. It sucked and everything for awhile, but I don’t know, I think I’m over it. Basically life’s the same for me. Except now, when I write a paper, I can throw in, “[blah] is especially important due to the recent events of Sept 11…” My papers are going to look so dated in about ten-twenty years.
It feels like it happened so long ago. I know, it was less than a year ago. But it just feels like it was a whole other era, something that happened in a different dimension.
I realize not everyone out here was thrilled with my calling Mr. Ashcroft a fascist pig. But am I the only one who finds it significant that the people of Missouri voted to send a dead guy to the Senate in preferance to Ashcroft? C’mon - if you lose an election to a dead guy there’s something wrong there!
That said, here’s how my life has changed since Sept 11:
When we have fire drills in the high-rise I work in people now actually take them seriously.
I worry about whether or not my flying privileges will get pulled.
I recently had to choose between getting fingerprinted and background checked to do something, and declining to do said thing.
I occassionally wonder if an FBI/CIA/whatever file has been started on me because I posted “Attorney General Ashcroft is a fascist wannabe” on the Internet… but then, there’s probably already a file on me somewhere. And I pity the poor sucker who has to read it, because for the most part I’m a really boring person.
I no longer get heckled for wearing a red-white-and-blue headscarf
I do wonder about terrorist attacks, but I haven’t changed my routine. I still go to all the places I used to go, and do all the things I used to do.
Broomstick: For most of the last year, I’ve thought that Ashcroft would be much happier if he moved to some Third World dictatorship and became the Head of the Secret Police. Fortunately, however, Congress and the courts aren’t afraid to remind him about a document known as the “Bill of Rights,” so I think that he’s being effectively checked and balanced.
Politics, as far as I can tell, are more or less back to normal. The right bitches about the left, the left bitches about the right, about half the people you talk to are pissed off about the President and most of his administration, and about half the people you talk to think he’s great.
After November or so, there was a marked drop in flag sightings around here, but then, this is a pretty liberal town. There are fewer people here who display flags in general. It was interesting, after Sept. 11, seeing the broad cross-section of folks around here who did put flags up – bohemian college students, people driving around VW buses with “KILL YOUR TV SET” bumper stickers, etc. – but a lot of those people have since taken their flags down.
I do feel less free and more… I dunno, more “watched” than I used to. Especially in situations like airport security lines, but also just in general. As an example, I was driving somewhere last week and realized I was going the wrong direction. The first place I saw to pull over and check my map was the parking lot of a junior high. Before Sept. 11, I don’t believe I would have thought twice about parking in the parking lot for a few minutes while checking my streetfinder map, but last week it gave me pause. I wondered whether someone would question my motives in sitting in a junior high school’s parking lot with my car idling for a few minutes. (I did it anyway, because I didn’t see anywhere else to turn around, but it did make me nervous.)
A lot of people have expressed more outright anti-Arab sentiment since Sept. 11 than I’d ever heard before. It’s almost like the fact that an Arabic terrorist group destroyed our World Trade Center somehow makes it OK for everyone to express any latent or formerly repressed racist sentiments they hold. When I visited my family in Ohio in March, my uncles and grandpa thought nothing of seeing an Arab guy on TV and yelling, “Towelhead!” If I had dark skin (especially if I were a guy) I’d feel a lot more nervous walking around than I did before Sept. 11, I think.
On one last personal note, I have to say that ever since Sept. 11, I’ve felt saddened and humbled. I used to think of the US, rightly or wrongly, as sort of an invincible fortress. The continental US had never been invaded by an enemy force, and the thought of anyone attempting to do so was simply laughable. Well, not anymore. The little girl inside me who used to sit in the swings on the playground and sing “America the Beautiful” at the top of her lungs died a little bit on Sept. 11.