What Does “Never Forget 9/11” Really Mean?

An example of one of these “Never Forget 9/11” campaigns. Most of the ones I’ve seen in my area are just handwritten signs.

I was driving down a suburban road the other day and saw that someone had put up a spray-painted sign stating, “Never Forget 9/11.”

Beneath it, also in spray paint, they had written, “Blue Lives Matter.” (Facepalm.)

Their lawn is covered with miniature American flags.

From the combination of the two signs, I can discern their political affiliation is republican, though I could have guessed it well enough from the first sign, and from the bizarrely numerous American flags. Excessive patriotism is the realm of conservatives in my country. What I can’t guess, though, is what message they’re trying to send with the “Never Forget 9/11” sign.

9/11 will be in every comprehensive US history book. The children who are too young to remember it will be taught about it. There is no conspiracy to hide the event and its significance, at least that I’ve seen. True, eventually the people old enough to remember the actual day it happened will die, but that can’t be helped. It will live on in our schools. In our history classes. Our political science lectures. People will remember that terrifying moment in our nation’s history when our comfortable lives were interrupted by a terrible act of violence. But here’s the thing: it was a terrorist attack.

The goal of a terrorist attack is to make people afraid. To make people dwell on that fear. That’s why it’s called terrorism. I’m not saying we should forget 9/11, but do we really need to put up signs about it everywhere? Dwelling on it is letting the terrorists win. Letting them impact our lives all these years later.

The only circumstance in which I think one of these signs makes sense is if you had a loved one who was lost in the attacks that day. In that case, sure. It has a personal meaning to you. I get that. But wouldn’t a memorial to that individual be more personal than just a blanket reminder about an event we all remember anyway?

My fiance brought these signs up in conversation yesterday, and they make him scratch his head too. Between the two of us, the only political message we could come up with for the signs was pretty dark: “Remember who did this.” That makes this whole thing even worse. Now it’s a call to action. A call to be against a whole group of people. With a certain orange hairball inching closer and closer to the white house, I can’t help but wonder whether or not this kind of sign is a symptom of his xenophobic disease.

Am I reading into this too much? Am I so deep in my liberal brain that I can’t just see a sign and take it at face value? What do you think these signs are trying to say?

Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful of others and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy

 

Republican Fear Mongering: What They Thought after the ’08 Election

This may be very, very old news to those of you who have been liberal for years, but I was raised by conservative parents in a deeply religious environment, so seeing this from the other side is still new to me sometimes. I was cleaning out my closet the other day, and I happen to keep my old diaries in there. One in particular, from back when I was in high school, gives a response to the 2008 election, when President Obama was first voted into office. It came at a point in my life when anything I said was basically a repeated opinion belonging to someone else. I hadn’t yet started to formulate my own opinions. Here’s what it says:

An old diary entry from 2008. It's very disturbing to remember the crazy things I used to think about the president.

An old diary entry from 2008. It’s very disturbing to remember the crazy things I used to think about the president.

11/4/08

Dear Diary,

It’s official. I heard the announcement on the radio: Obama was just elected president. I’m afraid. Mom says he’s just like Hitler, lots of Charisma, [why the capital letter, 2008 me?] terrible ideas. He’s going to remove all restrictions on abortion, then he’s going to start a 3rd hollocost [sic] (abortion being the 2nd). He’s going to chase down every white man and woman and child in the country and he’s going to kill us!

I don’t want to die! I want to grow up and write stories and go to college and get married and raise a family!

I want to marry the guy of my dreams! Have my fairy tale ending! Please don’t take that away from me!!!

Thank you for reading.

As tempting as it is to spend this entire post making fun of myself for starting a journal entry with “Dear Diary,” here’s why I think this find from my past is worthy of a post here: I genuinely believed these things because the adults in my life–the people who were supposed to instill some basic moral values and people skills in me–were saying them.

These opinions, in varying degrees of panic, were brought up at the dinner table, whenever my family watched or read the news, whenever I attended my Catholic homeschooling co op or other activities run by homeschoolers. This was my reality. These opinions were everywhere, and I rarely, if ever, heard anyone disagree with them. I was living in a conservative echo chamber, and with any echo chamber, it’s easy to see how one idea–in this case, the notion that a particular candidate is the worst possible candidate ever and shouldn’t be elected, can get blown out of proportion; it’s like a game of telephone.

Remember that game, where you sit in a line or a circle, and one kid says a phrase or a sentence, and passes it on to the next kid, who then passes it on to the next one? Somewhere down the line, it nearly always got changed, often because someone did it deliberately to be funny, but sometimes simply because someone misheard the message as it went down. All it takes is one exaggeration or other slight change in each retelling for a story or an idea to morph into something completely different. A brown bear becomes a mythical monster. A man becomes a god. A run-of-the-mill establishment politician running for president as a democrat becomes a black Hitler. Never mind the fact that historically, the comparison itself is ridiculous and in bad taste. Never mind that having concern for the way minorities are being treated is not the same as hating the majority group.

I will admit I had a tendency to be over dramatic in my diary entries, which were often the oh-my-god-that-cute-guy-looked-at-me nonsense that’s typical for someone in the grasp of adolescent hormones. But I tried not to lie. It’s very possible that these were just the absolute worst things that I heard, and I skipped over the more rational ones. But it’s the terrible things that stick in your head, isn’t it? Especially when you’re young. I got an education and thought my way out of that nonsense, but what about the kids who didn’t?

I don’t know where those rumors originated because of how oblivious I was to actual politics at the time. Did a conservative talk show host bring them up? Were they spreading through conservative news organizations? Were they simply the terrified whisperings of racist middle aged republicans? I don’t know. One thing I do know, though, is that the conservative echo chamber leads to fearmongering. It lead to panic about a “black supremacist” president, who in two terms has clearly not done anything to indicate such a mindset.

This is what some Republicans thought at the time. Surely not all, but some.

Having switched sides, I hope that I’m not living in a democratic, left-wing echo chamber now. I hope I’m evaluating my fears about a President Donald Trump or Ben Carson or Ted Cruz adequately. I believe that I understand that the worst that’s likely to happen with any of them is bad policy decisions, not world war III. We need to be aware of this human tendency to imagine the worst, and not turn these candidates into caricatures. They’re doing a good enough job of that by themselves already.

Do any of you have memories of the ’08 election and what the two sides were saying about each other? Were the campaigns then anything like the ones we’re seeing today? Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy

What Republicans Don’t Get about the US Supreme Court

Picture from Wikipedia’s page on the Supreme Court building: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Supreme_Court_Building

Growing up, I was taught that, and I quote my mother on this:  “Abortion is an unjust law.” She would elaborate, “It [Roe v. Wade] was made in a way that breaks the law. The Supreme Court can’t make laws, but they made one anyway, and now abortion is legal.”

If you know anything about the US Supreme Court and how it works, this makes absolutely no sense. Worse, Republican presidential candidates are beginning to make the same claims about Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court case that just legalized same-sex marriage throughout the US.

Mike Huckabee, for instance, recently said:

“The Supreme Court can’t make a law; the legislature has to make it, the executive has to sign it and enforce it. The notion that the Supreme Court comes up with a ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is to equal branches of government.”

The best thing about that statement is that it’s a fairly accurate description of the United States’ branches of government and the system of checks and balances that are in place so that laws can’t just be made willy-nilly. Huckabee seems to think those checks and balances were ignored in Obergefell v. Hodges. But that’s not what the Supreme Court did in this case, nor is it what the Supreme Court ever does.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, like in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court did exactly what it’s supposed to do:  it interpreted the constitution. The case wasn’t a question of whether or not there should be a law saying yes to gay marriage. I’m not even sure how that would work. There is still no law saying “gay people must get married.” I’m sure that, as is the case with straight cisgender people, not everybody in the LGBT+ community wants to get married. (Additionally, I’d question the constitutionality of any law requiring any demographic to get married. But I digress.) The case was nothing of the sort. It was about whether or not the constitution allows the country to maintain laws that were already in place:  laws which BANNED same-sex marriage.

It wasn’t a question about a law being made, but rather about whether currently standing laws, which had already been made, were constitutional. The Court convened, they argued, and they concluded that no, those laws were not constitutional. The constitution grants equal protection under the law, and gay marriage bans defied that equal protection. So now those gay marriage bans have been lifted, and the US has achieved legal marriage equality, minus a few rude county clerks in the Bible Belt.

Republicans have been quick to argue that the judges broke the law by making that ruling–but the fact is, they didn’t. If Republicans want to continue to fight against marriage equality, they should be arguing that gay marriage bans are, in fact, constitutional. OR, they should look for secular reasons to ban gay marriage and use those to build an argument toward a constitutional amendment. They’re unlikely to win either way, so they’ve created this ridiculous straw man. My favorite part of this situation is that they clearly understand what the Supreme Court’s job is, yet they simultaneously haven’t been paying attention enough to the details of the actual case to realize that the judges did in fact do their jobs.

I’ve heard some people argue that a state-by-state legalization would have been better for the country. I see what they’re saying, but I don’t think it was necessary. Maybe doing it that way would have avoided this whole ridiculous “They broke the law!” claim by Republicans. However, waiting for the states to decide would have slowed down progress on what is without a doubt a civil rights issue. When there’s injustice going on, it doesn’t make sense to wait for each state to meander towards the right conclusion. At least, that’s how I see it.

I’m not an expert on constitutional law, so if I’m mistaken about anything please do not hesitate to inform me.

Have you encountered this crazy “They broke the law!” argument? What do you think? And would a state-by-state approach have been better, or just slower? Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

-Nancy