Ten years ago this morning I sat down in Ethics class next to an American friend and asked, “What happens now?”
“Bush goes ape,” he said.
I remember that’s what I was afraid of that morning. Not the attacks themselves, but what the attacks might make us do. Sitting far away in a small Canadian town gave me the luxury of this less immediate fear, and I know that it was a luxury many people didn’t have. But it was on my mind that day, and I think that ten years on, “What did the attacks make us do?” is the most useful question to be asking, because it’s the only thing we have any control over. We can’t change what happened, we can’t prevent extremists from plotting against us, but we can control our response.
Bush turned out to be more calculating than reactionary, and we have come through better than I feared we might that morning, but much of what was done in response to terrorism in the last decade was not graceful or just. And as I read that our government is going to re-introduce the PATRIOT act-style police powers that we rolled back in 2007, I am reminded that September 11th is still making us do things that aren’t graceful or just, ten years later.
Our Prime-Minister-non-elect Michael Ignatieff had a pretty good take on the last decade in the Globe and Mail the other day.