crypto and public policy

September 11th – Remembering, and Remembering

Filed under: General September 11, 2003 @ 5:28 pm

Two years ago, I woke up in my Manhattan apartment to the sound of confused news reporting on my usual morning rock radio station. My last phone call of the day came from my parents before the networks went down, but just after I had time to tell them I was alright. I watched the TV images of the first tower collapse as I got dressed. Sneakers, just in case. I bought some basic food and water, just in case. I walked down 7th avenue to my office 500 yards north of the towers so I could communicate with *someone* (home internet was down). The second tower collapsed while I wasn’t watching. 7 World Trade Center collapsed literally when I had my back turned. I responded to 50 emails asking “are you alright?”, some begging me to leave New York to which I responded “I can’t, nor do I want to.” I watched cars stopped in the middle of the streets, doors open, radios on. I spent the day collecting information on radio, TV, and Internet, and redistributing it to as many people as I could via email and web.

I was there, yet I wasn’t there, at least not like those thousands who lost a loved one on 9/11.

Today, we remember those who died on 9/11 and the way our perception of the world changed radically on that day. Whatever your beliefs concerning the 2 years of policy that followed, this is a day to dedicate to those who didn’t see the morning of 9/12/01 simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But if our goal is to remember them properly, to make sure no other names are added to the list of victims, then we must remember a few other things. We must remember that the trend these days is towards world cooperation, not stand-offs so ridiculous they make The Onion parodies sound reasonable. We should remember that, as a country, we’ve made many mistakes based on seemingly good short-term outcomes but ultimately poor long-term effects. We should make our country safer not by becoming an island, but by cooperating to make the world a safer place as a whole. It just isn’t as simple as “us vs. them.”

We should also remember the principles upon which this country was founded. Innocent until proven guilty. Fair and speedy trials. Judgment by a jury of one’s peers. Proper checks and balances on government investigations. Guaranteeing fundamental civil liberties. In our rush to protect ourselves from future attacks, we are destabilizing the very basis of our free society (the Patriot Act comes to mind).

Let’s remember those who died, the history lessons to truly prevent such acts in the future, and the strength of the very freedoms that were attacked. Let’s not become amnesiacs for whom the world began on 09/11/01: the many history lessons of our past and our lasting principles of democracy and freedom still matter. They matter more than ever, in fact.

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