Every year, we (Americans) mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with various TV specials, featured articles, memorial services, and more. This year I read this gut-wrenching article from Esquire and it really moved me. I was thinking about life pre-9/11, the few years after, and now.
Politically, that day changed me from a liberal, 15 year old feminist, into a republican, anti-immigration advocate, Bush administration fan, and war supporter. What I, and I think most Americans, felt was fear. Fear of the guy in a turban; fear of the dark complected man across form you on the bus; fear of “all those countries over there”; fear of anyone not wearing an American flag pin; fear of religion; fear of the future. Many people, I know, still have this fear. That day changed everyone, in one way or another.
But thanks to my time engaging [debating] with like and opposite minded people at a small liberal arts school and my subsequent Political Science degree, I can say that I am a much different person today than 7 years ago. I am not dismissive of an entire culture. I no longer am fearful of “the other”. I have in fact visited Muslim countries (my favorite place in the world is in the MENA region). I actively seek out and desire diversity. I no longer think that American exceptionalism is grants the authority for this country to do whatever we want in the world.
I could write on and on about what patriotism means to me. You may be surprised to hear that I think being patriotic or nationalistic is in fact catastrophic to a functioning democratic republic, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of my country (sometimes) and wave the flag. So here I go…