9/11 Part 2: Cecily Kaiser
Continuing yesterday’s theme, Cecily Kaiser, a children’s book editor, talks about her experience:
I was on the subway, on my way to work, when the first plane hit the tower on Sept 11th, 2001. When I emerged on Houston Street and walked two blocks down Broadway to my office, I noticed a plume of gray smoke in the otherwise cloudless sky â€“ when I stopped to look up, one other guy on the street joined my gaze. Otherwise, the bustle of Broadway at 9am continued unfazed. The elevator up stopped on several floors, and from each escaped surreal gasps, screams, or sobs. I reached the penthouse cafÃ© just after the second plane hit, and saw the burst of fire and ash out our two-story southern exposure. I witnessed the first building fall from within these windows; afterwards, we were evacuated. Most of us simply began walking uptown. One stranger among us was wearing a walkman and announced when the second tower fell â€“ we all stopped, turned to look, and kept on walking.
Following the immediate aftermath, what I ultimately feared most was the way in which the blame would be placed. Vulnerability is a dangerous emotion â€“ one that can prompt irrational decisions and mindless reactions. Ironically, it is that very emotion that provoked both our countryâ€™s response to the attacks, and the attacks themselves. In todayâ€™s globalized society, the first order of business should have been to maintain the worldwide unification that the attacks initially prompted, as well as local togetherness. Instead, the U.S. government chose to scapegoat whomever best suited their own political and financial interests, both internationally and domestically. Racial profiling suddenly became politically correct; my turban-wearing Sikh friend was unsafe in his own suburban D.C. neighborhood. Not only did our government enter an unjust war, but they caused one in every school, workplace, and neighborhood in our own country.
I am opposed to the decisions made by the Bush administration post-9/11, and know that their choices have brought unnecessary hardship to people within our country and without. They have failed to represent their citizens, and succeeded only in blind isolationism and idiocy. Thankfully, there are also intelligent, rational, hard-working agents within our government who serve to keep us safe. Or at least I need to tell myself that.