Quotes to ponder on the anniversary of September 11th, 2001

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they stopped coming altogether,
and everything was awesome for everyone.

Except for the Commies, but fuck them.

–Martin Niemöller


They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, are really just being prudent. I mean, what kind of idiot doesn’t want as much security as possible?

–Benjamin Franklin


Give me liberty, but not those other guys.

–Attributed to Patrick Henry


Don’t tread on me. Instead, let’s all tread on those people over there.

–Christopher Gadsden


Unless you’ve got something to offer, stay the hell out.

–Inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of religious minorities and politicians with whom we disagree.

–Thomas Jefferson


Religion and government are like chocolate and peanut butter, and thus are even better the more they are mixed together.

–James Madison


I disapprove of what you say, and so I will do everything I can to stop you from saying it.

–Evelyn Beatrice Hall


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, except when it would be in bad taste; or abridging the freedom of popular speech, or of the corporate press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to scream at government officials and make thinly-veiled death threats unless they kowtow to unreasonable demands.

–First Amendment to the United States Constitution


When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross, and dangling a set of Truck Nutz.

–Attributed to Sinclair Lewis.

God dammit, CFI

I was going to write a post about the CFI’s indescribably stupid statement on the Park51 building in New York, and I still might, but Orac did it for me. Go read it.

I will repeat this exchange that I had with Don, which sums up my current feelings on the subject (not to step on Don’s “Me & Tom” series or anything):

Me: At this point, I think they ought to put a minaret on the goddamn Freedom Tower. And on it, carve “I disapprove of what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.”

Don: With a picture of that guy from Futurama whose body parts were all artificial.

Yes. Absolutely.
Another victim of the maleocentric maleocracy.

The Day the Terrorists Won

Six years ago today I was moving from class to class, a Senior in High School, trying to catch the latest news as it came in. The attacks happened just before the start of the school day, as I was settling into my Biology II classroom. The science teachers were listening to the radio in the little office that adjoined the two lab rooms, and at some point my Bio teacher brought in a TV.

We watched the continuous news feed, where reporters tried to hide their panic as they broadcast every piece of news and rumor as it came in. There’s another plane circling over the Atlantic, there was a bomb in the Pentagon, there was a mysterious truck parked outside the White House, and so on. Information got distorted through a lens of fear and confusion.

If I learned anything in my classes that day, I’ve long since forgotten. But there was a lesson to be learned on 9/11, and sadly few ever paid it any attention.

The purpose of terrorism is not to kill large numbers of people, it is not to strike at guarded targets in order to cripple military might. The purpose of terrorism is to incite fear. Terrorists are not powerful armies, they are not superpowers, they are not nations. At best, they are guerrilla soldiers fighting dirty against superior numbers and superior firepower; usually they are loose confederations of desperate individuals united against some common enemy. They are mice against lions, relying primarily on psychological power. By making the lion cower in a corner, the mouse can claim an uncontested victory.

Look at our nation, six years later. We have given in to fear, to panic, to that fluttering terror that gripped us when we first saw the footage of the symbolism-laden attacks. We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by power-hungry politicians and corrupt corporations. We have traded our essential freedoms–against warrantless wiretapping, against unlawful searches, against imprisonment without representation and due process, against cruel and unusual punishment, and so on–for the mere promise–the empty, unfulfilled promise of temporary security. And when we have thought to speak up, to cry out, to make a stand and say no more, we have stepped aside every time, for fear of being called “unpatriotic.”

We have allowed an idiot to lead us into an unnecessary war, needlessly spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and bringing the criminals behind 9/11 no closer to justice. We have allowed his cronies to run roughshod over the Constitution, and to fill the highest levels of government with people who refuse to be held accountable for their actions, who undermine checks and balances at every turn, who commit high crimes and misdemeanors and laugh at our inaction. And we have allowed–encouraged!–it all to happen under the banner of “9/11.”

We have lived six years in fear, planted by nineteen hijackers and carefully cultivated by a corrupt government. The time has long since come to suck up our pride, to recognize our mistakes, and to take responsibility for them. The time has long since come to bring our young men and women home from an endless war, to actually do something about national and international security, and to take back our rights and our country from the people who have perverted and purloined it. Foreign terrorists won on September 11, 2001, and they got away with it. Let’s make sure that the domestic terrorists, who have won every day since, aren’t so lucky.