By Maceo Keeling –
We have just observed the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, here in the United States of America.
There will undoubtedly be ceremonies all around the nation to commemorate that horrific moment, the first foreign attack on our soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Let me dig a little deeper into this for a moment. Historians will tell future generations that this was a senseless and unprovoked act of cowardice perpetrated by terrorists, “radical Muslim extremists.” Unfortunately, we are not in a position to determine with any degree of accuracy the impetus for such an attack on our nation. We do know, however, that the attack killed real people and changed the lives of three thousand families for generations—there were 2,993 people killed that day, and scores more among the first responders later on—as well as our nation’s self-image and our perspective of our role in the world.
Six years before 9/11, America endured the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. We were told that the bombers were Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. American-born terrorists. There had also been a failed attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993, and bombings on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224 people.
Other terrorist bombings have taken place in Centennial Park, at the Boston Marathon, and elsewhere. We call the perpetrators Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and other names; our leaders make sure they sound like very bad people.
Over the past quarter-century we have also normalized mass murder, adding new phrases like “active shooter” and “mass shooting” that are now a part of our national discourse. We lament the shootings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Orlando’s Pulse Night Club, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, a Las Vegas music festival—and most recently, a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.
Even churches are not safe: Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg; First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Tennessee Valley Unitarian in Knoxville, TN; Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and others have all been attacked by gunmen. A mass shooting even occurred at a military base.
The heart of a nation is now calloused by the recurring violence and assaults on the innocent. We are so accustomed to these attacks that we move quickly on to the next car wreck, wildfire, or celebrity divorce. There have been 19 of these attacks this year alone. Is this domestic terrorism? Or do we spin this differently from the militant attack of 9/11?
These are examples of a nation under siege—not from enemy nations but from within our own borders, by our own citizens. Every day we awaken to the profound and defining experience of domestic terrorism. Chaos has become Americanized; terror domesticated. Many of our citizens are so depressed, repressed, and oppressed that we have become like animals caught in a trap longing to get free. In the words of Malcom X, “The chickens are coming home to roost!”
A nation that continues to kill people of color, and whose vitriol, greed, and self-loathing have caused devastation to our planet itself, cannot survive. Polluted oceans, air, and waterways are indicative of a polluted spirit. Opioids and addiction are indications of repeated attempts to destroy oneself and are the outer manifestation of our willingness to destroy each other—anyone whom we consider “the other.”
Perhaps now there is enough evidence that we do have a race problem. We have a problem of the Human Race.
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The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.