We Remember

Photoreb/Flickr

By Democratic Left Blog Editors

Thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, we mourn and we remember those who died that day. Of the attackers, 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia; none were from Iraq. Their terrorism headquarters was in Afghanistan.

Yet, neoconservative hawks in the United States led George W. Bush to order the invasion of Iraq. More than 4,480 U.S. soldiers died and more than 32,000 were seriously wounded. More than one million Iraqis were killed, and the current crisis with ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a direct consequence of the invasion. 

This was the war on terror. It began a process that has seriously damaged our democracy and our individual liberties.

In 2011, at the time of the tenth anniversary of the attacks, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a report on the effects this war on terror has had on our democracy and civil liberties. It has been re-issued, and we believe it is important to highlight it here. In this report, “A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years Later,” they say:

Ten years later, as we remember and mourn those who died on September 11th, our nation still faces the challenge of remaining both safe and free. Our choice is not, as some would have it, between safety and freedom. Just the opposite is true. As President Obama recog­nized in a 2009 speech, “our values have been our best national security asset—in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.” Yet, our government’s policies and practices during the past decade have too often betrayed our values and undermined our security.

Ten years ago, we could not have imagined our country would engage in systematic policies of torture and targeted killing, extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretaps, military com­missions and indefinite detention, political surveillance and religious discrimination. Not only were these policies completely at odds with our values, but by engaging in them, we strained relations with our allies, handed a propaganda tool to our enemies, undermined the trust of communities whose cooperation is essential in the fight against terrorism, and diverted scarce law enforcement resources. Some of these policies have been stopped. Torture and extraordinary rendition are no longer officially condoned. But most other policies—indefinite detention, targeted killing, trial by military commissions, warrantless surveillance, and racial profiling—remain core elements of our national security strategy today.

The ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks provides an auspicious moment to pause and reflect on where we have come and where we are headed. This report is our attempt to in­vigorate that critical national conversation. We have titled it “A Call to Courage,” because we believe that a defining element of our national identity—embodied in our national anthem’s pairing of “the land of the free” with “the home of the brave”—has been imperiled by our leaders’ promotion of (or capitulation to) a politics of fear. We have seen Congress and the courts—which are intended to act as checks on executive overreach—fail to perform their constitutional oversight, standing down rather than standing up to the exaggerated demands of an unchecked executive. Indeed, Congress has too often actively stoked the politics of fear, passing statutes that claim to be tough on terror but in fact make us less safe. Our nation can and must do better.

Rather than working to allay public fear, our political leaders (with few exceptions) have ma­nipulated it, to the point where it can be difficult to determine whether their expressions of alarm are genuine or merely opportunistic. These are arguments based on cynicism, not strength or resolve.

The full report has chapters on: “An Everywhere and Forever War,” “A Cancer on our Legal System,”  “Fracturing a More Perfect Union,”  and “A Massive and Unchecked Surveillance Society.”  As we reflect on 9/11, we recommend the report to all. Click here to read the report

For further reflection on this sad anniversary, in light of the recent shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., we recommend: “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” (2014), also by the ACLU. 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 82 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 47 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.