I have had reservations about posting anything about September 11, 2001. The reservations are simple: in the days following 9/11, we as a people came together and acted as one. We now have become a hate machine. Turning into the very thing, the very hatred that led to 9/11. Still we proclaim during these “celebrations” of 9/11 our patriotism and love of country. Our flag waving. We are idiots. This post is about an American in another country witnessing what happened on that ugly day, and how it affected me all those miles away.
It all began on an airplane crossing the pond for Greece. I was filled with joy, even though I had just been there six months ago. September is glorious in Greece. It is still summer. I arrived on September 9th. It was a beautiful day. I was with family in a country that was the beginning of freedom, of all things as we know them now. Notwithstanding that, I had no illusions of how Europeans, all Europeans felt about America and Americans. They saw, see us as the land where the streets are paved with gold, everyone is rich, but also a country and a people who imposes their will on other people of the world. Our way or no way. They feel this way with good reason.
On September 11th. my cousin and I met a friend for lunch. It was really a surprise visit first to her shop in Athens, then lunch. We left to make our way home at about 3:00 p.m. Athens time. We got in the car and proceeded home and listened to the radio. “There has been a terrible accident in New York City.” I remember it like it was yesterday. We thought train accident, the Lincoln Tunnel. That was all they said. We arrived home and started up the stairs. My cousin lives in a three-story walk-up. As we were climbing, we could hear the phone ringing, ringing and ringing. I t would not stop. We ran up the stairs. My cousin answered the phone. The friend we had lunch with told up to turn on the television. As I did that, the second plane hit the second tower. Our friend still trying to talk on the phone, and my cousin and I in shock. Truth be told we did not believe it was real.
The rest of that day and for days following, the phone continuously rang. Friends calling telling my cousin that they will take care of me and that I should not be afraid. Amazingly, I wasn’t afraid. My friends and family weren’t the only ones protecting me. The Greek Government and other governments, swore that they would protect Americans. They did just that.
We tried to live life as usual. My cousin, friends and I were off to the British Consulate. My cousin teaches English and needed supplies from the Consulate. We got there on a hot, sunny day. As we entered the building, they asked for passports or other ID. I don’t carry any, I have never carried any. I have had my pocket picked. So in english I said, “That’s okay, I will wait for you outside.” I went out the door, lit a cigarette, and as I turned to wait, I found that the soldier, with his finger on the trigger of his ouzi or whatever weapon he was carrying that day, was standing six inches from me, protecting me. We looked at each other but never spoke. There was no need. We both knew what happened. He stood next to me until my cousin came out, and then made sure I knew her. When we walked away, he silently walked back into the consulate. It was the first and only time I was afraid. I say that, because I learned that day, I did not need to be afraid. I was safe and would be defended and protected.
Yes I felt safe and protected. That is not to say there weren’t protests and riots against America. The U.S. Embassy was marched upon, protests in the streets of Athens and other cities. There is no love lost among many in Greece and other European countries. They tell you that America finally got what it deserved. That it was God’s will for all our sins and deception. It would be less than honest to say that America has not been all of those things. I can say that how did we deserve this? They will tell you remember Dresden? Remember the Junta of 1967? Remember Cyprus? Remember our starvation during WWII while you did nothing? They wonder why patriotism synonymous with hatred. George W said, “Either you are with us or against us.” Why must those who disagree with us be the enemy?
Make no mistake, I wanted justice. Justice does not mean war. Justice does not mean killing. Justice does not mean blanket hatred of poor people, gay people, muslims, black people, the Irish, or those who oppose us. Politics has become more important that human life. Our superiority is our religion. 9/11 has become a money making machine. We have no Foreign policy. Only American policy. We speak of democracy and freedom for everyone, but only if America can give it to them and of course it must be American democracy. They laugh at our arrogance.
We are fighting two wars in two countries and call it protecting our freedom. They won’t tell you they want justice, they want to bring criminals to justice or any such thing. Our government tells us that we are protecting and defending our freedom. That is pure bullsh$t.
The Europeans understand that. They know we are playing games with their lives. They don’t wish us death, but they want us to take responsibility. Our government takes pride in its promotion of violence, extremism, destruction of America, and hatred.
My cousin was right many years ago. She asked me why I was so sure that I was free and could do what ever I wanted? Before I could answer, she told me that I wasn’t really free. Democracy in America was non-existent. That we are trained from childhood to act and behave in a certain manner, read certain books, and to demand certain things, and that is why we think that we can do everything we want. But in reality, we demand only what they, the government, is willing to give us. Simple words, simple pictures manipulate the small child to be aware of what government wants, or teach the child to be a good citizen, and to teach the child to demand from government only what government is willing to give. Is that freedom?
Ironically, 28 years ago, my cousin was right. Look at us now. We have allowed government to take our rights away, teach us to hate. We can never bring democracy or freedom to the Middle East. They have been killing each other since Abraham and Sarah. The problem with the Middle East is that the killing is about religion. Has always been about religion. One sect of Islam against another sect of Islam. It is not about freedom, democracy or human rights. It is about religion.
Yes, I felt safe and protected in Greece and Europe. So much more so than I do in my own country, America.