September 13, 2001

Plus ca change...

It may turn out that only 3000 are dead instead of 20000. People reporting this
generally hasten to add, "Not that that makes it any better." Well, it doesn't, if
you're one of the 3000, or if you loved one of the 3000. But yes, it does make it
a bit better for 17000 people who were potentially casualties, and who may turn
out not to be. If there are 17000 people who escaped, then there may be five times
that number who are feeling some of the most profound relief and joy of their
lives right now.

What won't change, of course, are the feelings of
the rest of us who are a bit further removed, and our national response to the
attacks. And I wonder what that will be. Has anyone noticed how many of the
speeches, the ones that say "Things will never be the same. Americans can't feel
safe anymore. We're not removed from the rest of the world," seem to have an odd
echo? We heard the same speeches, from newscasters and regular people, eight years
ago when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. They said then, "This changes
everything," but in the end, it changed nothing. (Except of course, for the people
who were directly affected that time. I don't want to minimize what happened to
any of them.)

Oklahoma City did have a more profound effect on our
national psyche, but I don't know that it even changed much -- I'm sure Federal
buildings instituted some new security policies, and became a bit more skittish
about threats, but what else changed? I'd like to think that interest in the more
freaky lunatic fringe militias decreased, but that's not what the reports from the
Southern Poverty Law Center, who tracks these things, seem to

In the short term, many people will be much more afraid of
flying, and of traveling in general. In the long term, airport security will be
heightened, if not permanently, then for a very long time. But will anything else
change? Or will we send out a few raids on the perpetrators, then gradually

Unless, of course, we go to war, in which case everything
will change.

Posted by dichroic at September 13, 2001 10:59 AM
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