America’s New 9/11

(This column appeared in the December 5th edition of the Northern Express.)


It’s been a couple of weeks since the country decided to elect arguably the least qualified and most inappropriate candidate in our history to its highest office.  For many of us, the shock has yet to wear off…and for me, I doubt it ever will.

On election night I was watching returns come in, and as it became clear that Donald Trump was going to win, I struggled with finding a feeling to compare with what was going through my head.   It hit me about 2 a.m.   I had the same feeling coming to grips with a Donald Trump presidency as I did on 9/11/2001.  “Oh no,” you’re thinking, “he’s not going to go 9/11 on us, is he?”  Yes he is.  The comparisons are very apt.

Back on that gloomy September day, it became clear to me that Fortress America was no more.  The oceans that protected us from enemy attack for a couple of hundred years were as porous as the borders that separated European countries.  Even before the second tower fell, I knew life in these United States had been changed forever…and it was unlikely that the change would be for the better.

Since that time, my fears were confirmed.  With the passage of the USA Patriot Act, our civil liberties have been severely curtailed; and there is no end in sight to government attempts to monitor our activities.   Simply invoking the word “terrorism” gives the government license to do whatever it pleases in spying on its own citizens.   While we would like to think that spying is all for a good cause, countless examples of government overreach have proven that more than metal and glass came crashing down on 9/11.  And while we can rebuild a building on the site of that tragedy, we will never again see our rights to privacy restored.  And most disturbing is most Americans are happy collaborators in the restriction of their previously precious rights.

So too, on November 8, 2016, our country was changed forever.  And it’s really hard to see how any of these changes will be positive.   More striking are the swift actions by the Trump transition team to confirm our worst fears for our country’s future.  His appointments to key positions guarantee whatever progress we have made toward making our country a true beacon of liberty, justice, and equality is about to be reversed.

The United States has never actually been the place where liberty, justice, and equality reigned supreme.  Our greatness has always been the promise that someday we could become the place that actually delivered on the ideals of our Declaration of Independence.  It’s been a long and tortuous road for many from the days of slavery, Native American genocide, Jim Crow Laws, Japanese internment, repression of women’s rights, suppression of dissent, voter suppression, criminalization of homosexuality, etc. to where we sit in 2016.  Progress in these areas has always carried the promise of even greater liberty, equality, and justice in the years to come.

But on November 8, 2016, the American people decided that enough was enough.  Early in the transition process, Mr. Trump has hit us across the head with a 2 by 4 to let us know what lies ahead.  With a white supremacist as his chief strategist, a confirmed homophobe as Secretary of Education, a treasonous former general as Secretary of State, a confirmed racist as Attorney General, an isolationist as Commerce Secretary, a radical islamophobe as National Security Advisor, and a raging Benghazi conspiracy theorist as CIA Director, there can be no doubt whatever progress we have made since 1950 in this country is about to be reversed.

So who is to blame?  There’s plenty to go around.  The inept nature of the GOP in finding a viable candidate to run against Mrs. Clinton, the FBI’s efforts to prevent a Clinton presidency in violation of federal law, Russian duplicity in Trump’s campaign, Clinton miscalculations in key states, possible fraud in electronic voting, etc.  Fingers can be pointed in many directions.

But ultimately, of course, the blame lies with the 60 million people who actually thought a Trump presidency was a good idea.  I understand aging, uneducated, white guys lining up behind the guy who speaks in sentences rated at the third grade level.  Their world has been upside down for 60 years and it was never coming back.  But what about the rest?

If you’re in law enforcement or in the military and you voted for Trump, turn in your badge.  You’re about to be asked to do things that violate your sense of duty to the American people.  You will be asked to assist in the systematic registration of people because of their religion.  You’ll be asked to limit the freedom of movement and expression of many Americans who oppose Trump’s master plan. You’ll be asked to attack innocent people in other countries.  You’ll be on the front lines of an America run amok.

If you’re a teacher and you voted for Trump, turn in your certificate.  You have broadcast to your students that racism and bullying are legitimate principles of civil discourse.  You have sanctioned the objectification of girls and women as proper conduct.  You have announced that the truth is actually an impediment to learning and thinking.

If you’re a person of color and you voted for Trump, there are no words for you.  In a landslide of racist rhetoric and actions throughout Trump’s life and campaign, what glimmer of hope did you see that your life would be better under a Trump presidency?

If you’re a woman and you voted for Trump, turn in your vagina.  You’ve already ceded control of it to a man who would grope it for sport.  How little you must think of yourself as a person to endorse this man as your president, and how little you must think of your daughters and granddaughters to put this fiend in a position of influence in their future.

Yes, November 8, 2016 is our new 9/11.  But this time we did it to ourselves.  Democracies always get the government they deserve.  I will spend many years wondering what we did to deserve this.


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5 Comments on “America’s New 9/11”

  1. Marcia Pontoni December 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    Outstanding as always. I will send it out to friends and family.


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Maggie Neptune December 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    Wow! I was in D.C. on 9/11/01 and in North Carolina on 11/8/2016 – you are so right. On THE 9/11 I felt such a deep despair – I am my family were no longer so safe in our country. On 11/8/16 I felt the same despair – we lost more of our innocence, integrity and morals. But, I choose to stay and fight – as I chose not to fall apart on 9/11 – that’s the most American thing I can do. Thank you for this! P.S. 26 days post election and no Governor declared in NC.

  3. Mark Ball December 5, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    Discovered this article completely by accident this afternoon, 12/5/16. We are visiting from Ohio, where we are almost completely surrounded by Conservative republicans, and apparently a lot of Trump voters. We are still in shock over the election results and are having a difficult time understanding how our friends and family could have voted the way they did. Since we purchased our cottage in northern Michigan, we have learned to be careful with our words because our liberal bent is not often appreciated here. Imagine our amazement when we read this wonderful article and then visited your website! Keep up the good work! Your article touched on every single aspect of the election’s implications, and was very clear and concise. We love it and are sharing it with our children.

    • Mark Pontoni December 5, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks. The Great White North can be tough on the free thinkers, but there’s a few of us around. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Emily B-F December 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    Great article! One thing though- not all women have vaginas. It might seem like a minor point but I think that now more than ever is the time to be especially inclusive of trans and non-binary folks.

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