COVID and 9/11: the cure worse than the disease
The war on COVID is analogous in a number of signficant respects to the War on Terror. There were real terrorists who killed people on 9/11 and there is a real virus killing people now. To some extent the response to each is fighting what it claims to fight. But many excessive and unnecessary measures are tacked on for ulterior motives. The end goal is nebulous and constantly shifting, and the implicit goal of forever ending terrorism or (apparently) death by infectious disease is unrealistic and arrogant.
Almost twenty years ago, those who questioned the war in Iraq were vilified as unpatriotic or worse, pro-terrorist. We were told to listen to the experts in the intelligence community, conveniently ignoring those members of the intelligence community who warned that all was not as it seemed. In retrospect, “listen to the experts” only ever meant “listen to those experts who favor expansion of state control.”
Now draw those lines into the future. Twenty years later, the War on Terror and the surveillance state justified by 9/11 have not proven to be temporary emergency measures. They are not exactly popular, but everyone is used to them now. America is significantly less free, the world is a significantly worse place, some terrorist groups have actually been empowered and armed by US foreign policy, and countless lives have been ruined—due far more to the response to 9/11 than to the actual terrorist attack. And the culprits are still in power, in the halls of state and the corporate press.
If there is one sign of worldly hope, it is that Americans are far more divided over the response to COVID than they were at the beginning of the War on Terror. Would that we had more such division on many more aspects of our brave new world, rather than letting them recede into the background as they continue to misshape and mar our everyday lives.
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