Shocking confession here: 9/11 doesn’t invoke strong empathy in me. I recognize the terrible toll and untold acts of humanity, heroism, and charity. If ever there was a day that showed humanity at its best and worst, it’s 9/11. We should honor the sacrifices and shared sense of loss, but I primarily see 9/11 as the beginning of the most disturbing trend in my country during my lifetime.
As a coldly practical matter, 9/11 wasn’t an unknown act of violence. More people have died before. The violence wasn’t any worse, and in some cases, not as bad as your garden variety war. Almost every other country had already come to know terrorism as a common event even as Americans lived a delusion that it couldn’t happen here. Sure, we saw it on live TV, which made it more visceral and noticeable, but as violence it was distressfully common. That’s what makes America’s reaction to it so surrealistically wrong.