So many stories have been told and written about the horrendous events of Sept. 11, 2001. Like any other significant event, its coverage and analysis spanned over a very wide spectrum of thoughts and viewpoints. The war mongers' in the White House and their supporters linked it all to the (axis of?) evils who want nothing more than the demise of freedom and "freedom loving nations", the religious fanatics branded it as the next wave of the Crusade, some went to such great lengths to link it to the Jews, some put it in the same category as the assassination of president Kennedy, and yet some even tried to flatly deny that it ever happened.
I do not intend to add any more to the above list of theories, although I suppose I do lie somewhere in that spectrum myself. In this posting, I shall discuss the ways I think the world changed after 9/11, and whether in my view those changes were for the better or for worse.
Safety and Security
After 9/11/2001, the U.S. government set up a new department for homeland security. Many countries, especially western countries stepped up their security measures to "protect the safety of their citizens" and they generally became more security-conscious than before, but is the world really a safer place now?
There have been two wars since 9/11, more deadly terrorist incidents such as those in Russia and Indonesia. Lives are still being lost every day in Iraq. The situation in the Middle East has gone to the verge of total collapse several times and both sides of the conflict have taken unprecedentedly extreme actions against each other. Far too many countries are known to have started or resumed their nuclear weapons program ever since. U.S. is planning to develop a new generation of nuclear bombs. It is indeed becoming a more dangerous world to live in every day.
I here take freedom to mean the civil liberties in the west where freedoms are usually taken for granted. Many of the events that took place after 9/11 were somehow linked to or interpreted as measures taken to protect (or eradicate) western style of freedom. President Bush kept telling his people that the terrorists want them to give up their way of living as a free nation and urged them to continue to live (spend ?) like before. Ironically, his administration proposed several bills that further restrict civil liberties. A radio broadcast corporation in the U.S. was actually accused of making a list of "banned songs" including John Lennon's song "Imagine". The songs of a group of Texan singers were taken off the air by some radio stations with the excuse that their criticism of President George Bush for invading Iraq hurt their audience's patriotic feelings.
Racial and Ethnic Hatred
Imagine a person being kicked out of a plane before takeoff simply because he looks Middle Eastern and that other passengers do not feel comfortable flying with him. Three years ago, this would have guaranteed a huge fury among civil rights activists not to mention a multi-million dollar law-suit. Not quite so after 9/11. It is now OK to treat every one with suspicion based on their looks. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty unless you don't look right.
Respect and Tolerance
Through the many encounters that I have personally had with ordinary people from western countries, I had this feeling they are not as well informed about Iran as I expected, given the fact that many knew it only by reputation, as a state that harbors terrorism. Some didn't pronounce the name "Iran" correctly. Some didn't exactly know where it is, or had very wrong perceptions about life in Iran, nonetheless they were invariably polite and respectful. They were almost always able to draw a line between the government and the people. The culture has somehow changed. Terms like "freedom fries", "freedom kiss", and "Trashganistan" are just examples of how intolerant and disrespectful attitudes have become. This lack of respect and the inability to make a distinction between the people and the governments has left many people of the world hating each other. Americans are as much the victim of this hatred as any other nation and this I believe has been one of the aftermaths of 9/11.
I think the world has changed a lot since 9/11 and I think it has unfortunately been for worse.