Notes on 9/11, postscript

Following up on the comment I quoted in the previous post, I had the questionable joy of flying cross-country about a month ago. I found myself giving the following advice to my wife as we prepared to go through airport security:

"Have your stuff ready. Don't make waves. Don't complain about anything. Give them your ID, and cooperate with anything they tell you to do."

Then it hit me--I'd been given virtually identical advice twenty-seven years ago with respect to the East German Grenztruppen as I prepared to cross the Iron Curtain for the first time. But that isn't what scares me.

What scares me is that I have a nine-year-old nephew who has never known anything different, and who will grow up thinking that this is normal. That, more than anything, testifies to the country that we lost.

I am not so naive to think that this is the first time our country has abandoned its ideals in the name of self-defense and security. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, and in World War II President Roosevelt imprisoned American citizens simply because they were of Japanese ancestry. We righted those wrongs and got back on course, and someday the current mistakes will be corrected.

I just wish I were confident that it would happen in my lifetime. Right now, I'm not feeling so sure about that.