Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks and because Westerners like numbers that are divisible by fives and tens, twenty is a significant number. Remembrance ceremonies held yesterday felt as though they should have meant something more because of that number. Adding to this feeling was America’s recent defeat in Afghanistan, the country we invaded in direct response to these attacks in a vague and vain attempt to combat “global terrorism.” A common sentiment that I have seen is the longing for what I will call a “9/12 America.” September 12th, the day on which a diverse America put aside its differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, class, and other identity markers and came together as one nation. I am not certain of the historical accuracy of that feeling but that is not the relevant question here. The relevant question is if the American people can ever achieve that type of unity again? With the events of the past eighteen months, I am not certain that will be the case.
Despite the unity that Americans felt in the aftermath of 9/11, one could argue that the day may have been the last in our history on which we shared a common bond. Using that momentum, within months, we invaded Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, the faction responsible for the attacks. Along the way we ousted the Taliban from power, unfortunately plunging the country into a twenty-year insurgency that diverted trillions of American taxpayer dollars away from our own country and into the military-industrial complex. Not satisfied with one war, the United States invaded Iraq as well in 2003, citing Saddam Hussein as another dangerous figure responsible for Islamic terrorism.
While few argued against our initial effort in Afghanistan, many questioned the justification of our involvement in Iraq. Prolonged conflicts in both nations began to reveal a split within the American people along political party lines. Citizens quickly lost the ability to judge events based on logic or common sense and defaulted to supporting the position held by their chosen voting blocs.
An acceleration of this mindset came with the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency. Any disagreement with his policy was met with accusations of racism and what should have been a healing moment between Americans of all ethnic groups was used as a chisel to further divide us from one another. Racial lines were not the only ones drawn during this time. The 2008 financial crisis entrenched crony capitalism within the economy, with government bailouts rewarding corporate thieves and criminals for their malfeasance with money from the common people’s back pockets. Mainstreet Joes lost their jobs and homes while Wall Street Johns received bonuses instead of prison.
For a brief moment, the American people were able to grab power back from the elites, electing Donald Trump as President in 2016 and sending the global elite into a fit of rage. But the partisan divide only strengthened, with every action taken by Trump and his supporters labeled fascists, Nazis, and bigots for their support of policies that placed the American citizen first.
And then COVID hit. No clearer division exists than the one that separates Americans based on their perception of this virus, and because of this we are on the brink of open hostilities toward one another. This battle includes official uniforms, as one side dons facial coverings to signal their allegiance to the cult of science and while the other side errs on the side of personal sovereignty. This war has now culminated in the declarations of our new President, fresh off his defeat in Afghanistan, proclaiming a new enemy at home in those who refuse to submit their bodies to the state through vaccination. A great purge of the American people has begun.
With all of this in mind, the answer is no, there will not be another 9/12 America. The day prior set off a chain of events that has severed our common bonds and the shared traditions once held by this nation. Without these elements, there is no unity. Without unity, there will only be further division and chaos.
The most likely course of action is that the United States will continue to divide along the lines that we briefly managed to erase in our 9/12 moment and further conflict will be inevitable. As Christians, we too will most likely need to consolidate our communities for self-preservation with hopes of continuing our mission of declaring the Gospel to the world, as the unity and reconciliation that mankind seeks is only truly made possible through God. And even though the earthly cities and kingdoms we call home now may fall, we know that Christ’s kingdom endures forever.