The Dust That Hasn’t Settled

Millions of tons of dust made of metal, cement, glass, wires, asbestos, and human remains plumed in the vicinity of the collapsed World Trade Centers on September 11th, 2001. Over 12,000 first responders continue to have respiratory problems from breathing the dust, according to the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program.

The condition affecting people near the collapse has become known as World Trade Center Cough. Even worse than the cough, well over 1,000 people near the site that day have been diagnosed with cancer caused by breathing the toxic dust, and are receiving treatment for it.

It’s often the isolated event that people focus on, this time the hijacking of planes to be used in a terrorist plot. But thirteen years removed, we see a world changed permanently by the events of that day.

Like the cloud of toxic dust that sickened the people near the collapsed towers, a toxic cloud of violence and extreme measures to prevent it has permeated the globe.

Following 9/11, we went to war in Afghanistan. A few years later, we went to war in Iraq. These conflicts have resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and have not stabilized the region or lessened the threats against us.

Just last week, President Obama made a speech about his strategy to handle the rise of ISIS. The terror group that has taken control of land in Iraq and Syria presents a significant threat to the United States and the world at large, according to Obama. He vowed to make sure the “cancer” of ISIS is not allowed to grow and plans on increasing American presence in the conflict.

Many are worried that ISIS, who has more resources than al-Qaeda ever did, can execute an attack on the US and bring back the pain of September 11th.

The Middle East at large is in rough shape. Syria is in a civil war. Egypt has gone through multiple regime changes in the past few years. The Israel-Palestine conflict has flared up. Radicals have made advances in Libya. All of this adds to the most serious development of all, ISIS.

9/11 was a wake up call to the threat of terrorism and the United States responded not just with war abroad, but an expanded national security complex at home. Over the course of the last 13 years, our government has built a system of surveillance and data collection of unprecedented pervasity that has only been revealed in the last year by leaks of classified information.

The current events mentioned previously show that there are real threats out there. The world is violent.  9/11 did prove that we are vulnerable to extremists. But while the government used these threats to justify surveillance programs, the public was left in the dark.

The air is still murky from September 11th. The war against terrorism continues and won’t end anytime soon. Questions of privacy vs. security are unresolved.

Not all of the dust from the World Trade Centers washed away in the rain. Like the cleanup crew after the building collapse, global society has to continue to clean up the mess created by terrorism and violence.

 

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