Thursday, 11 September 2014

Throwback Thursday - 9/11 Is Not Over

As a matter of fact ...

Today is the 13th anniversary of the events of September 11th 2001. That's crazy. I had just turned 10 when it happened and really had no idea what was going on. It took me probably another 10 years of my life to fully realise the repercussions of that day. When I was young, I thought it was a far off event with far away people that would have no impact on my life. I was wrong of course. Anyone who has lived through the last 13 years has seen the world change around us, possibly forever. Instead of focusing on the terrible events of that day, I thought I'd take a look at just three things its legacy left behind - an echo as loud as ever.

The Wars

You cant mention 9/11 without talking about the wars that stemmed from it. Less than a month after 9/11, the U.S invaded Afghanistan in a campaign to eradicate the Taliban regime. They are still there. The Taliban may no longer be a threat but the U.S has found itself intertwined and responsible for a country seemingly on the brink of collapse. Then there was the invasion of Iraq. This took place two years after 9/11 and ended in 2011. Although not directly linked to combating the terror that caused 9/11, the Iraq war was still linked with the events of that day. Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled and a more democratic system put in place but the country is arguably more volatile than ever.

The Patriot Act

This act of government changed everything in America and aspects of it were mimicked by other western countries. The Patriot Act gave the American government unprecedented powers of surveillance, searching and interception of the public in order to prevent another 9/11. It meant tighter airport security, new flight regulations and more spying and searching of the American public than ever before. Ever been told to take off your shoes at the security? Or told you cant take that small bottle of liquid on board? These are all regulations stemming from this act.

The Patriot Act also led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. In contrast to the Department of Defense, the DHS works in 'the civilian sphere to protect the United States within, at, and outside its borders. Its stated goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism' and its creation has been described as 'the most significant government reorganization since the Cold War'. 

With Barack Obama extending aspects of The Patriot Act as recently as 2011, it seems that 9/11 and the fear it instilled in people is still present today.

The Rise of Extremism

Show me a way of life and I'll show you extremists of it. 9/11 showed us that was true of Muslims but in the decade since then, we have seen a rise of reactionary extremism in the west. This has come in the forms of far right groups such as the EDL or BNP in the UK, increased hate crimes on Muslims in the wake of 9/11 in America or even acts of terrorism itself such as the Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in which he killed 77 people, mainly teenagers.

Extremists and bigots will always find something to hate but 9/11 gave a lot of these groups a focus. The English Defense League (EDL) claims to counter Islamic extremism but its critics have pointed out its racist and anti-Semitic tendencies as the real values of the group.

Even the wars I've spoke of have had impacts on home soil. Just last year in the UK, the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby by a Muslim fanatic on a London street sparked a wave of unrest and anti-Muslim attacks across the country. It just seems to be an eye for an eye. Some might argue that the first eye taken was 9/11 but it is clear now that the events of that day were set in motion many years before. 

It's easy to think of 9/11 as history these days. For anyone under the age of 25, they have only hazy memories of that day. But not remembering it does not make it irrelevant to today's world. On the contrary, it shaped today's world. This event permeated the world's culture so much that it may take many more years before we can step back and take a look at the true scale of its repercussions; far more than the three I have outlined for you today. 

So as you remember the events of that day; the lives lost or the bravery of the NY services, remember that it is not just in our past. It affects the world around you and will most likely shape our future.

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