Today, on September 11, numerous vigils will be held throughout America commemorating the lives lost 12 years ago. Although these vigils are important for some, they do little to remember all of the victims of September 11. So, in light of the inadequate vigils throughout America, I've decided to write one of my own.
On September 11, we should remember all of the day's victims. The most well-known victims of September 11 are the 2,977 people killed in the various terrorist attacks throughout America on September 11, 2001. The only crime most of these people committed was being tragically unlucky with their flight choice. These 2,977 people were also political victims. The martyrs used the victims' lives in an attempt to embarrass the American government, and then the American government used their memory to deal a devastating blow to the Muslim world.
As such, the next victims of September 11 are the ones being killed in the wars America, and its allies, pushed upon the world in response to 9/11. Afghanistan was the first target of America's wrath, as the American government believed the country was sheltering Osama bin Laden. Initially, the Americans were right; Bin Laden was momentarily hiding out in Afghanistan. However, he ended up traveling to Pakistan as early as 2002, and remained there until his death in 2011. This did not prevent America from continuing to bomb Afghanistan. The country is still in shambles, with over 17,000 Afghani civilians killed in the action thus far.
Iraq has faced a similar fate as Afghanistan. The administration began to allege that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11 directly after the attack. They also claimed Hussein was in possession of chemical weapons. As such, America launched another destructive and unnecessary war, leading to the death of over 115,000 civilians and worldwide condemnation. Both of the claims which America used to justify the war were false. And if the allegation regarding chemical weapons was correct, recent documents from the Reagan administration show that America is selective with their opposition to the use of chemical weapons anyways. These are only two examples of states that have had civilians killed due, at least in part, to 9/11. There are countless more.
President Bush's war on the Muslim world, which Obama has continued, hasn't only affected Muslims outside of America. In fact, Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs, and more broadly, anyone 'brown' looking in America has been especially victimized since 9/11. Four days after 9/11, Sikh-American Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot to death outside of a gas station he owned in Arizona by a man claiming to be a "patriot" who thought Sodhi was Muslim. Although this hate crime became the most famous, in 2001 the FBI reported 481 anti-Muslim hate crimes in America. Numerous other hate-crimes against Sikhs, believed to be Muslim, have occurred since, most notably the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting. These hate crimes against Muslims, Sikhs, and others, have not stopped. For example, on December 27, 2012, Indian immigrant Sunando Sen was pushed into a set of subway tracks in New York, and subsequently killed, by a stranger, Erika Menendez. Upon her arrest, Menendez told the police that, "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims... Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I've been beating them up."
'Brown' Americans have not only been the victims of hate crimes from xenophobic citizens since 9/11, as they have also been targeted by many governments. The American government, among others, has used racial profiling extensively against people of color, especially since 9/11. The examples are endless, with the most common occurrences taking place at the airport, and some of the most brutal cases taking place in Guantanamo Bay where Muslims have been detained, horrifically tortured, and held for years without charge.
The American government's (and most others) infringement on civil liberties since 9/11 has extended well beyond the more common occasions of racial profiling at airports. In fact, America has been waging an especially troubling war against all of its own citizens' privacy, in the name of their security, since 9/11. The first strike in this war came with the Patriot Act, pushed through quickly after 9/11, which removed numerous important restrictions on what the government is allowed to do. Most recently, with Glenn Greenwald's breakthrough news, we have learned about the NSA program which allows the government to access millions of Americans' phone calls, emails, and other personal data. Though the balance between security and liberty is an age-old problem, since 9/11 basic liberties have been thrown in the air as the American government has put considerable weight on intrusive security measures.
While the examples I've listed are by no means all of the ways people have been victimized since 9/11, I've certainly given more than the typical 9/11 vigil does. This is because it's crucial to think of the victims outside of the most well-known 2,977. If we only think of 9/11's victims as the ones in the planes and on the streets of America, we miss the chance to think of what caused 9/11, and the ways 9/11 has led to terror for the world at large.