How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Death of a Nation

The world changed on 9/11. I knew it and so did everyone else in America. That is why we remained glued to our television sets in the days following the attack. It was horrifying to watch. We wanted to pull our eyes away from the twenty-four news coverage but we couldn’t. We watched the raw footage of the first plane hitting the north tower, and then we watched as a second plane flew into the south tower. We watched as people leapt to their deaths from the burning towers, like dolls falling. We watched as rescue crews geared up to enter the towers. Then we watched in stunned incredulity as the towers buckled and fell like two stacks of cards. We watched as the survivors, covered in the dust from the debris, stumbled out of the gray ash. And we watched these images over and over and over again. For days, for weeks we were glued to our televisions, trying to incorporate the images we were seeing. American Airlines Flight 77 crashing and exploding into the Pentagon. United Airlines flight 93 plunging into a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board; the passengers of Flight 93 having made a courageous stand to prevent the plane from crashing directly into either the U.S Capitol or the White House in D.C. We watched these images on a seeming endless loop for days, for weeks, for months. We watched, not being able to pull our eyes from the carnage. In the days following the attacks there was a subdued silence as people attempted to process the images we had seen and what we had experienced individually and as a nation. The symbols of our invincible military and economic strength had been reduced to so much rubble. We were vulnerable and raw.

            Tears were cried, not only for the thousands who died, but for ourselves and America, and for the slowly dawning realization that our country had changed irrevocably in the time it took for a late summer morning to pass. A few hours was all it took. A few hours that stole our feelings of security, our belief that there was somehow a magical golden shield around the United States that would forever keep us removed from the chaos and violence of the rest of the world. We were special. WE were the ones who marched into other countries with our guns and our tanks, and WE were the ones who toppled buildings and killed enemies in far off lands. There were certain unwritten rules, one being that wars do not travel to the shores where the Constitution, Lady Liberty, and the ideals of democracy reside.
           
            We had persevered through World War II and walked out of the smoke and horrors as heroes of the world, the saviors. Later, in 1991 when the undeclared Cold War ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, we exhaled. We had survived it all intact. Our enemy had once again fallen and our safe, cocooned notions took an even deeper hold on our collective psyche. We were Americans. We were untouchable.

            Then the morning of September 11, 2001 shook us awake. Our false perceptions about our safety and security were replaced with fear. Fear of people who resembled those responsible for 9/11, fear of those who prayed differently, fear of those who called God by the name “Allah”, fear of those who spoke a language that had become suspect to our ears, fear of those who dressed differently, fear of women with brown skin who wore head coverings. The fears took hold. Our fears caused us to start viewing more segments of people as “other.” Who were all these foreigners? They weren’t Americans. How did they get here? We envisioned some streaming unchecked across our borders. We imagined them murdering us in the streets, raping our women. Illegal immigrants were taking our jobs and stealing our tax money by enrolling their children in our schools and applying for government assistance meant for hardworking Americans, not some brown skinned Mexican from across the border. 

            As the economy lagged and suffered and the recession of 2008 engulfed us, and as poverty among Americans sharpened its teeth, we divided further into the “good” and “bad”, the “us” and “them.” Our racial divide of blacks vs whites once again reared its ugly head from the shadows of denial. Blacks were ruining our country with their gangs and their ghettos. Their rap music was violent. They were killing our police officers. This country had opened its arms to others and what had happened? We had been unjustly attacked on all fronts. White America was on the verge of extinction. Our culture was at stake. This was evidenced by America electing a black president. If he was leader of the free world didn’t that mean that the free world’s power no longer rested in the hands of white males? Didn’t that mean that power would have to be shared with people of different races, religions, genders, and sexual preferences while America was gripped tight in the fist of economic uncertainty? The apple pie must not be shared. 

            And out of that fear and uncertainty a lone man hit the American stage ready to take our country back to the good ole days where economic security reigned, where jobs were plentiful and white America was not threatened with being ousted from power. A country where “illegals”, no matter their length of time in the U.S, no matter their contributions to our country and economy, no matter if they had been brought into this country as small children, would be booted from our country. A nation where access to the American Dream for "them" would be narrowed and walled. A country where religious freedoms would apply to everyone, except for those who weren’t Christian. We would not allow crosses to be dismantled from church steeples and Bibles thrown away, even though there had not been one instance of this happening in America
            Many saw this lone man as a joke. A media diversion. A buffoon. From his bombast, verbose, and puzzling campaign he flipped from being openly pro choice to being anti abortion, from being an open Democrat to being a hard core Republican, to not showing any interest in religion to being a Christian that Evangelicals supported whole heartily. His sentences were word salads, his vocabulary limited, the points he attempted to make almost unintelligible, his ranting and ravings stirring violence at his campaign rallies: “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise” and “I don’t know if I would have done well, but I would have been out there fighting, folks. I don’t know if I’d have done well, but I would’ve been — boom, boom, boom. I’ll beat the crap out of you.”  
            His misogynistic attitude and name calling of women on Twitter became well known, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America”, “Fox Viewers give low marks to bimbo @MegynKellyy will consider other programs”, and his public statements about his Republican rival Carly Fiorina were deplorable, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next President? I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" His now famous recorded-for-posterity, “I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and f--- her. She was married…. And I moved on her very heavily... I moved on her like a b----, but I couldn’t get there." And it didn’t stop there. Karena Virginia accused him of groping her at the 1998 U.S. Open Tennis tournament, Summer Servos stated that he kissed, groped, and thrust his genitals at her (she has an open lawsuit against him), Jill Harth accused him of cornering and groping her in his daughter’s bedroom in 1997,  Kristin Anderson said that in the early 90s he groped her while she was sitting next to him on a couch at a Manhattan nightclub, Natasha Stoynoff said that he assaulted her and pushed his tongue down her throat  in 2005 while she was on an interview assignment for a magazine, Jessica Leeds emphatically insisted  that he grabbed her breast and tried to reach under her skirt while on an airplane flight thirty years ago. But still America ate him up like left over cake batter.  And then suddenly he wasn’t a joke anymore. He was the leader of our country and he was taking us backwards, not forward.
            Unshackled white supremacists and homophobes slithered out of their snake holes. The Empowered Evangelicals ratcheted up their condemnations of anyone who didn’t believe the Bible was the direct holy word of God, meaning of course, their word.  The president put his stamp of approval on rounding up illegal immigrants like cattle, separating them from their families. He openly goaded one of the most unpredictable nations in the world, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”  He verbally attacked his own cabinet appointees,  " Why Didn't A. G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge Clinton..."  He attacked the highly respected Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, railing that she was "an incompetent judge", "has embarrassed all by making dumb statements about me", and "her mind is shot ! Resign!

            He pardoned a federally convicted sheriff for racial profiling just days before the sheriff was to be sentenced, and in doing so made a mockery of our justice system.  He picked fights with the London Muslim mayor, Rosie O’Donnell, China, Cuba, Kathy Griffin, and CNN. On his infamous Twitter feed he threatened the city of Chicago, Mexico, Iran, and the University of Berkley, to name just a few. He blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, even though only one group arrived looking for a fight, armed, and chanting racially charged rhetoric. He verbally attacked members of his own party: House Speaker Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Senator John Flake. And he spends most weekends away from the White House, even in times of crisis.  
            This billionaire real estate mogul who has filed for bankruptcy six times, been married three times, committed adultery on wife number one with wife number two, hosted a reality T.V show, and creates historical “facts” as they suit him (the plaque honoring a battle at one of his golf courses has been reputed by historians), and called the White House a “dump” is a direct consequence of America’s post 9/11 fears and uncertainties. He “tells it like it is” and he’s going to “Make America Great Again.”  He has managed to pit mother against daughter, father against son, brother against sister, causing hurtful rifts within families.
            When he took office he bragged that he was bringing “the best” with him, yet seven months later most of “the best” have either resigned or he has fired them. He fired FBI director James Comey, Attorney General Sally Yates, lead prosecutor for the New York southern district Preet Bharara, Chief Usher Angella Reid, and White Communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Many more have resigned under a veil of suspicion of corruption or because they dared to openly contradict him: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, U.S Office of Government Ethics Michael Dubke, Chief of Staff Reince Pribus, White House Communications Director Sean Spicer, White House Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short, Special advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform Carl Ichan,  Deputy White House Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Director of the Office of  Government  Ethics Walter Shaub, National Security Council Senior Director Greg Deare, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, National Security aide Sebastian Gorka. The White House Manufacturing Council and the White House Economic Advisory Council had such an influx of resignations after the president’s comments about Charlottesville that both councils were quickly disbanded.  
            The president has failed to appoint 384 of the 564 positions in his administration. These posts are sitting empty, being led by interim directors, or staffed by holdovers from the Obama administration. Our Commander in Chief is relishing his moment of power. He treats the office of the presidency like a reality television show, brags about crowds at his continuing rallies, boasts about how many people read and respond to his tweets, stays forefront in the media by acting out his outrageous unpredictable impulses and condemns any news media that doesn’t openly admire him and agree with him by labeling them "fake."
            9/11 may have occurred sixteen years ago, but we are finally witnessing the apex and the long term consequences of that attack. The terrorists may have slammed airplanes into our buildings, but it is Americans who have taken it upon themselves to dismantle the precepts and ideals that the Founding Fathers laid out for America. America is not being destroyed by outside terrorist, but rather inside by far extreme right political and religious groups who encourage violence, separate Americans into “us” and “them", attempt to bend our Constitution and our courts to their will, ignore agreements with our allies, and attempt to take away the civil rights of certain groups of people
            Back on September 11, 2001, watching as the towers fell and realizing that over three thousand people had been murdered, my heart cracked and I felt a knife twisting with the knowledge that this was the beginning of the end of the country I hold most dear. I never could have predicted or envisioned the path we would choose to take on November 8, 2016 that would ultimately lead to the destruction of  ideals that have stood fast (sometimes only superficially) for two hundred and forty-two years.  The glaring proof being played out right in front of my eyes, that my instincts were more correct than I could ever have guessed, does not give me comfort or validation. I wish my gut instincts had been wrong. God, I wish they had been wrong.  America is on life support and fading fast.