September 11, 2013

Did we overreact, and other 9/11 thoughts

Online friend John Horgan says a definite yes to the rhetorical question inside the first half of the header, as well mark 12  years since Sept. 11, 2001.

And he's not even counting the blatant overreact of attacking Iraq when it had nothing to do with 9/11, a point well remembered today as some people continue to try to mong war against Syria's Bashar Assad when we don't know for sure who was behind the sarin attacks. (Horgan does mention the Iraq War under generic "fighting terrorism," but doesn't mention that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.)

I did a column two years after 9/11, addressing a couple of his issus in more detail.

As many people die from smoking related illnesses every 2 days or so as were killed in 9/11, all entirely preventable.

As many people die from largely preventable diabetes complications every 2 weeks or so.

As many people die from the preventable portion of fatal auto accidents every 2 months or so.

Yet, Americans, since Sept. 11, 2001, have not done more at the federal level to crack down on smoking. 

If anything, the government has played a part in abating the fast-food issue, combined with low-wage rushed jobs and other things, that have contributed to the Type II diabetes-fueling obesity epidemic.

And, we've done little more to address DWIs, and nothing to address texting while driving, on fatal accidents.

(I didn't even count overall preventable alcohol-related deaths, since they didn't fit the nice "2" theme, but, that's a death equality level about every week.)

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control lists heart disease and cancer as the two top causes of death iu its top 10. The great majority of cancer death is preventable, as is a fair chunk of heart disease. So are a fair amount of stroke and other respiratory deaths. Stop smoking, stop eating so much and so much bad food (while getting even a modicum of exercise if you don't now) and stop overdrinking.

Beyond that, as Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station says, at some point, we need to let history become history.

And that leads two Part 2.

Not the overreacting versus other preventable forms of death, but the overreacting of overreacting.

Like the Transportation Security Administration making us all take off our shoes, except those to whom it's selling an $85 five-year pass to cut the line.

The massive increase in border security fueled in part by tea party type fears that al-Qaeda was going to slip across the Mexican border in some remote place like Big Bend National Park. Or requiring passports to go to Canada. Truth is, 150 years ago, we were letting Irish nationalist terrorists slip across our border into Canada.

The expansion of the national snooping state under President Bush, and the redoubling of its expansion under President Obama.

The money wasted on military spending for the Iraq War and all that snooping.

But, to follow up on Jim, let's remember George Santayana, and as we let 9/11 become history, let's learn enough to not repeat all of our past mistakes.

They include:

American exceptionalism in various forms;

The idea that what's good for America is good for the world;

The related idea that we know what's best for other countries, especially with our indirect imperialism;

The related idea that we can painlessly impose this.

Speaking of those talking points, let's not forget "the other 9/11." Today is the 40th anniversary of the U.S. supported generals' coup in Chile against Salvador Allende.

Finally, I just don't "get" the idea of, or buy into the need for, a President as comforter in chief. If you're religious and need such comforting, there's your faith community and its religious leader. If you're not religious, there's freethought centers in some places, online secular communities, or counselors.

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