How to Remember 9/11 -- One Suggestion
By Doug McGill
The McGill Report
ROCHESTER, MN -- As a memorial
to the fallen heroes of 9/11, I propose that America increase its commitment
understanding, and connecting in positive ways with the world, of which
we are only a part.
This would be the ultimate national security measure and would strengthen
the democracy that our 9/11 heroes died to protect.
Two potent symbols
of America -- the World
and the Pentagon -- were attacked on 9/11. But that's not all that was
demolished. So too was the pleasantly dreamy haze of affluence and
security that, before that day, we lived in.
The danger is that now, a year after, we are drifting back into the
illusion that America can forever live rich and safe and happy over
here, while the rest of world lives poor and sick and desperate over
The best way to honor the 9/11 dead is to take whatever actions are needed
to ensure that such a horror never happens again. Military action is a
part of the answer. More important in the long run is learning and
connecting to the world beyond our borders by conversation, by study,
by commerce, by hospitality, by travel, and by leaps
By hospitality, I
mean making the effort to make the effort to make friends with
people not born in
the United States who are now living
That is something that is very much achievable right here, right now, wherever
we happen to live. We are always blessed with strangers around us.
It's time to think about starting new international student exchanges,
scholarship programs, and new trade and humanitarian initiatives whose
founding spark is the explicit desire to connect -- and thus to make safer
-- the U.S. and the rest of the world. The Peace Corps and the Fulbright
Fellowship Program were two such Cold War initiatives. They can be
repurposed and expanded and new initiatives can and should be started,
If America remains insular in the
world, it will reap the whirlwind. Thatís the most important lesson of
Unless we learn how to meaningfully connect with the world beyond our
national borders, the misfortunes and tragedies of that world will become
Aside from starting new cross-cultural exchanges, demanding more from our
national news media is essential. The devastation in New York and
Washington instantly made clear how lacking in substance, how irrelevant,
and how dangerously distracting is our standard news media diet of scandal
and infotainment. And yet, after only a few months of improvement, weíre
back to wallowing again.
To make good decisions as citizens, we need to be well informed. Not a few
but dozens of life-and-death issues await American society in the months
and years ahead. We need our media to inform us about these issues, every
one of which is a matter of profoundest national security. For example:
Should we make war on Iraq? Are we
ready to occupy and rebuild Iraqi society, as we did Germany and Japan
after World War II?
Will Colombia, whose drug-fueled civil
war has created more refugees than any country in our hemisphere, become
Americaís next Vietnam?
Will California face a secession
organized by Hispanic voting blocs, in the same way that
nearly voted to secede from Canada in 1995?
Will the U.S. one day face invasion by an AIDS virus more potent than a
nuclear bomb, that was bred to indestructibility in the continent of
Where is the U.S. media on all these
stories? Why arenít they educating the citizens of this democracy? Why
have they returned so quickly to celebrity interviews and cooking shows?
And why is the public apparently so willing to accept such grossly
inadequate and distorted coverage of international issues and news?
Clear and honest
As a superpower, America
is de facto deeply engaged in the world. As consumers, we influence the
world with every dollar we spend and every product we sell. And as a
democracy, our government, our military, our corporations, and our media
exercise enormous influence on the world in our name as
U.S. citizens. Is it the influence that
Is our media giving
us the full, clear, and honest report on the world beyond our shores?
questions and demanding answers is the best way for
to arm itself against future attacks.
By keeping up on the outside world, problems will be spotted and solved
long before they explode into tragedy. More importantly, learning about
others and linking our lives with theirs in such simple ways as doing
business and sharing each other's universities, cultural institutions, and
homes, helps to establish a fundamental inoculation against attack.
People who trade
with each other don't bomb each other. People who study and learn and
travel together don't terrorize each other. People who know each other as
good neighbors don't kill each other.
It's time to get to know our neighbors in the world. That would be the
most fitting tribute to the family members we just lost.
Copyright @ 2002 The