On 9/11 we felt horror; on 9/12 we felt unity; have we forgotten?

We all remember the emotions of Sept. 11, 2001 – fear, horror, sadness.

But do we remember the defining collective emotion of our country on Sept. 12, 2001?

It was unity. We were united by the sense that our great nation had been violated, and that we would only get past the horror to a viable, stable future by being one.

Pettiness and arguments that lead to nothing were not going to cut it if we were to overcome this immense tragedy. We were not divided by political party, ideology, race, culture, or economic standing. We were just Americans and that was going to be enough. We realized in that moment that our points of unity far outnumber our issues of division. And we promised to never forget.

Twenty years later, it’s fair to ask if we have forgotten the lessons of that tragedy and the aftermath of unity.

We are caught in the quicksand of politics and tribalism on almost everything.

We seem embarrassed by our admittedly flawed history, to the point where the teaching of it needs to include, in the view of many, a theory that our very birth is based on racist beliefs.

We argue about everything and if someone does not like one side of the argument, they label the person racist, effectively shutting the discussion down. We censor each other on Facebook and throw verbal hand grenades on Twitter to advance or denigrate talking points.

We say trust the science regarding this horrible virus we are trying to tame, but when the science does not fit our point, we label it misinformation and attempt to silence the messenger by any means necessary.

The “we” in this divisive behavior often includes Big Tech and our sitting president, who promised to unite us but consistently singles out particular states, governors and segments of the population and misrepresents their thoughts and actions to make points.

Lost in all this is the possibility that “misinformation” can eventually be proven accurate by science and things we once thought made sense and can be proven unreliable by that same science.

It takes patience and a respectful, open mind to allow points to prove or disprove themselves, and we lack both of them these days.

The method of the day seems to involve silencing and/or removing from our world anyone we disagree with.

A Florida restaurant owner has erected a sign stating anyone supporting the current president and his actions should find another place to eat. That will not unite us.

Portland officials say they will not accept any products from Texas in the aftermath of a court ruling in that state that recognizes life for an embryo begins at six weeks. That will not unite us.

Our former president is banned from Twitter, but the Taliban is not. Anyone who is part of that double standard obviously does not remember or care as much as they should about the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Perhaps most tragically, we seem conflicted about the premise of making voting easy but cheating hard in our election process. More than 30 states are considering election reforms. All of them, despite what you are being told, amount to improved voter access compared with a couple decades ago.

The common theme is that the voter be who they say they are and be able to prove it in some way, shape or form, which is precisely what I had to do at my doctor’s appointment last week.

This is trumpeted as racism, with shouts of Jim Crow amplified, doing irreparable damage to the trust level for future elections.

Where is our sense of unity, which should prompt agreement that we want everyone eligible to vote with credibility so we can all trust whatever the results are?

In the aftermath of an attack on our country, you would think, 20 years later, we could agree on the sanctity of our borders.

Instead, we have an administration obsessed with rendering the wall that defines our country useless, promoting illegal drug and human trafficking and drug cartels and creating danger for residents along the border and those who put their lives on the line patrolling it.

The unity of Sept. 12, 2001, should compel us to safeguard our borders while improving our legal immigration process on behalf of the millions of good people who long to get to this country the correct way.

The unity of Sept. 12, 2001, also should have made it obvious that we should not leave Afghanistan, the root of Sept. 11, 2001, without all Americans, Afghani translaters and others qualified for safe passage, as well as American weapons, artillery and uniforms in tow.

Have we forgotten what happened? Have we forgotten what unites us?

David F. Troisi retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette. None of the opinions expressed necessarily represent the views of the Sun-Gazette.


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