9-11 accomplished more than Bin Laden probably thought possible. The fear of the dreaded jihadists has driven the populace into accepting the narrowing of civil rights protected by the constitution.
Fear of terrorism has led the nation to accept unreasonable and unjustified wars (undeclared), false imprisonment and torture, and limitations on travel. It has lead to the fear of anything Arab.
The FBI targets citizens and others that sound Muslim. City police departments, like New York, stop and frisk, a constitution violation, profiled residents.
Fear of going about one's daily business abounds. A backpack left unattended is more likely to result in the bomb squad than a transport to the loss and found. An unexpected 'package' left in a bank lobby will find itself in the hands of the bomb squad and SWAT.
Schools, even before Connecticut, have become fortresses. Never mind that these 'security' measure are relatively worthless, except to make certain parents feel good.
Even a routine trip to the mall is wrapped in fear of possibilities of violence even if unjustified. A walk downtown is not only hampered by the homeless, but by the street people who are threatening in their extortion attempts.
The fear of all things global warming raises concerns and fears of planet longevity. Climate change rhetoric raises the specter of coastal cities flooding, and storms like Sandy as a frequent event.
Fear of job loss, fear of the fiscal cliff (even if we don't know what that is), fear of loss of one's house, fear of the inability to retire, fear of loss of social security, fear of catastrophic illnesses, fear of getting sick, and the list seems endless.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933 inaugural address, spoke about a time not that much different than ours today It is the famous "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech. An excerpt:
"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."
What we need is national and state leadership free from partisan constraints to exercise freedom of conscience without the fetters of campaign funding. Are Obama and congress up to it?