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What 9-11 Has Taught Today's Children

Tom Hall: Today's students learn about our decision to topple the government of a former ally, because its dictator had grown too big for his britches.
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Photo by Julien DI MAJO on Unsplash

Photo by Julien DI MAJO on Unsplash

It was 19 years ago today that religious extremists brought down the World Trade Center Towers, and other buildings, in New York. 

One can believe the video evidence of large jetliners flying into the towers, piloted by Islamic extremists, or the stories of Jewish terrorists planting explosives all over the buildings, and then sticking around to dance in the rubble, or the stories of capitalist extremists arranging a controlled demolition, and killing thousands of people, purely for the worship of profit. Whatever theory you choose, the underlying theme is "religious extremism." 

19 years ago. That means that children who had not yet been born in 2001 have now graduated (or dropped out) from high school. Children who were in school at the time have graduated from college and moved into careers. 

We can think about what students in today's civics classes are taught. Did this tragedy bring the nation together? Are we more united now than in 2011? For a while we seemed united: United in supporting a Patriot Act, designed to reduce every American's political and social freedoms; United on going to war with a tiny, impoverished nation from which the attacks were planned and carried out, but to NOT go to war against the planners or the nation, Saudi Arabia, that funded and facilitated the attacks. 

Today's students learn about our decision to topple the government of a former ally, because its dictator had grown too big for his britches.

Today's students learn about our decision to topple the government of a former ally, because its dictator had grown too big for his britches. And our support for leaving that nation with no replacement government, so that privateers could loot it at will. 

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They learn that even churchmen, who once preached about the certainty of moral values, who once worshiped a man who gave his own life for the rights of the poor and downtrodden, saw the profit opportunities in preaching for corporate power and rights greater than human rights. They saw them convert formerly forbidden behaviors into sacraments.

They saw the election of our first black President, followed immediately by a very well funded white backlash and the organized, politically encouraged resurgence of overt racism, cloaked in the confederate flag and promises of a return to formal, legal segregation. 

Today's students are taught, by some, that distorting or lying about physics is fine, so long as it is done in the "good cause" of defending anti-semitic or pro-corporate stories about the World Trade Towers attack. And how this willing acceptance of fake science led to the spread of equally fake medical science denial. And how the availability of grand corporate funding made such lying acceptable to even the most "devout" church men. 

What does anyone imagine students learn from such lessons? The clear, unifying philosophical meme across so many topics is that truth is an enemy to profit, financial or emotional. In the Abrahamic religious traditions, from conservative Judaism through prosperity gospel "christianity" to radical Islam, the lesson is clear - values are relative to profits. Nothing in faith is fixed. 

How can anyone then wonder that modern students and young people believe so little of what their elders say? The fundamental preaching of today's fundamentalist religious, political and capitalist leaders is that only short term profits have any meaning. There is no value, moral or financial, in thinking long term. People who "play the long game," like the hated Barack Obama, are to be mocked and lied about, not trusted and believed. 

Tom Hall

If we tell young people that their future means nothing to us, can we be surprised if they dissent, if they get out into the streets to protest, if they treat our property with the same disdain that we lavish on their lives and futures? 

Tom Hall