I didn’t really want to get all 9/11-y, as so many people are. I experienced the same horror that day that so many others did. Hell, at the time, I was a volunteer ambulance attendant — I almost jumped in a car and headed to New York to help.
But I decided that I needed to blog this from a different perspective.
I will always remember 9/11 as the day that web traffic changed — when traffic loads brought down CNN and others, and the need for disseminated traffic balancing was needed. The irony of that day is that, when a content delivery network provider like Akamai was most needed, was also a day when one of its founders was on board the plane that hit WTC1.
I was at the Fort Frances Times then, and we were mirroring content and imagery as we could grab it from major news sites, when they were actually up. As horrifying a day as it was, it was a fascinating day to work in the news industry in general, and the web news industry specifically. I don’t actually remember what our traffic looked like that day (I know it was up significantly), but I felt like our team was actually able to do something to help, when so many sites were being overwhelmed. I remember the grim satisfaction, as a certified geek, that the sites that stayed up were the tech news site like Slashdot, which was posting constant info from editors and users alike all day, and was also the first time I heard a mention of Osama bin Laden as the possible mastermind, scant hours after the towers had fallen. I got more information there than from anywhere else as the day’s news unfolded.
9/11 is a tough nut for me to crack. I felt the same horror as many others that almost 3000 people died that day. But I weep for what the United States has become as a result of that day. Civil liberties and constitutionally-provided rights have been pushed aside in the interests of national security, and there is confusion even today on the right to take pictures in public spaces, to challenge authority in a peaceful manner, and to question the efficacy of the creation of what is, effectively, a police state, in so many ways. I worry every time I cross the border into the U.S., not because I’ve done anything wrong, but because of the power that the border security personnel now have.
I felt a grim satisfaction when OBL was killed in May, not because I wished him (or anyone else) harm, but because there was some closure. I hoped that the U.S. would be able to move on, to relax its scrutiny, because the “big bad” had been eliminated. I read an interesting perspective from a user on one forum, who said:
“I personally hate 9/11 because it reminds me of how cowardly this generation was when it came to defending their civil liberties. No one asked us to storm a beachhead or put our lives on the line. The only thing we had to do was not surrender what better men and women bled to give us, and we failed. “
Ultimately, I’m angry about 9/11. I’m angry that so many innocent people were killed for a very non-Islam reason. I’m angry that so much has happened since then in the name of “freedom, democracy and security” that had nothing to do with any of the three. And, most importantly, I’m angry that so many thousands of people in Iraq have died, not because the regime needed toppling (it did), but because the U.S. leadership used 9/11 as a reason to invade. I think that the perspective of this piece from Al Jazeera English shows how the world before 9/11 — and after it — are vey different from a non-American perspective.