Archived: 9/11 x 7: An Equation For McCain? Obama? Anyone?

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In the seven years since 9/11/2001, America has been safe from terrorism. No significant foreign incursions onto U.S. soil have occurred. Most fears of violence have been directed at domestic homegrown horror, at the usual and familiar hand-gun homicides, school killings, family violence, that occurs stateside. We’re used to that. But foreigners bringing down our biggest buildings and slaughtering thousands of our own people under our nose, hasn’t been repeated. All’s quiet on the American front. We’re safe and we’re not sorry. We’ve quite adapted to airport inspections, police eyeing us at tunnel entrances, strengthened passport requirements, threat alerts (red, orange, etc.,— do they still have those? Who’s been noticing if they do? ). An objective observer might say — government seems to have done one heckuva job of protecting us, OR, the terrorists who want us dead have bagged it, moved on, gone to softer foreign targets, or are too weak to do damage. It’s all rather surprising. If you can engineer so brilliantly the take-down in a matter of minutes the world’s two tallest and largest buildings, you could certainly poison a city’s water reservoir.

If the answer is that we have checkmated the terrorists, some applause and approbation is in order, recognizing a job well-done. And the 9/11 fall-out may interestingly be more than safety. Despite the alleged religious fanaticism and ethnicity of the perpetrators, we seem to be experiencing a period of increasing ethnic, religious and diversity tolerance in America post 9/11. It’s not clear why, but being attacked from without can often strengthen community within. My evidence for this would be the current Presidential election, which may be benefitting from 9/11 in this regard. At least three different religious orientations are represented, two ethnicities, both genders, and a wide age range. I couldn’t put together with only four people a better example of diversity in a college course on “diversity science”. And the electorate is clearly up for it, energized and excited.

The seven years of domestic safety could play well for Sen. McCain, arguing his party did it and he has the experience to continue to keep us safe at home. On the other hand, if Sen. Obama was willing to acknowledge a governmental job well done, he could then argue no special military or security experience is necessary for a new leader as this thing is now well under control. It’s a Catch-22 for both, as McCain doesn’t want to bring the Bush administration into his campaigning if he can avoid it, and Obama doesn’t want to give anything to that administration!

These two campaigns are not saying a great deal about the post-9/11 issues of domestic security from terrorism particularly how the current tranquility can be specifically ensured into the future. Why have there been no significant incidents and what does that answer bode for the Presidency?

Dr. Frank Farley is a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

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