"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
I am still in shock at the horrific events of the past 36 hours, at the overwhelming loss and awful impact on so many innocent people. The attack on the World Trade Center has left me confused, uncertain of the future of the world. I've watched with a real sense of anxiety the powerful figures lining up on TV to espouse, advertise and almost celebrate the "irreversable change" that this atrocity has generated. President Bush has asked for, and may well get a blank check to spend on bringing the terrorists to whatever justice he wishes to dispense.
I am fearful of the long term consequences. When the leaders of the most powerful nation on earth talk about limiting freedom, that scares me immensely. It worries me that the erosion of the liberty of the US citizen won't stop at the airport or train station. Will stop and searches become more common? Will non-governmental agencies now have the right to demand identification from anyone who crosses their path? Will face-recognising closed-circuit cameras become the norm, as they have in some parts of London in the UK? Will any agency or organisation have the right to compile a record of your movements and prevent your travel if you fit a profile of suspicion? Will the sort of detentions that the UK's Prevention of Terrorism act legalised become commonplace in the USA? Will other parties, such as the RIAA or the anti-drug or anti-abortion supporters, piggyback their interests onto the laws that are sure to be passed in the wake of this crisis.
I'm not an American, yet. I'm an immigrant, from the UK. I don't know whether to stand when the US national anthem is played, and I feel strange when I refer to "our response" to this evil act. I feel disgust when elected representatives of the US people appear on TV and say that no more immigration should be allowed. That the USA should close it's borders, should treat everyone outside as evil. That the USA should invade every Arab or middle eastern nation on Earth. That they should do it now.
This isn't my main worry. None of this really impacts upon my psyche as much as the knowledge that we have hard times ahead. I am completely certain that the economic recession will hit the USA and the world hard. I am sure that we will feel the repercussions of September 11, 2001 for years, if not decades to come. We won't do anything except focus on retribution and anger, instead we should try to do what we can to lessen the hardship ahead.
I admit, it's a completely selfish attitude to take. I'm angry and saddened that mine and my wife's plans for children, for a happy life together, for a house, friends and laughter, that those plans are now on hold indefinitely because a group of people decided to kill US citizens.