It was only a matter of time before the horrifying events of Sept. 11, 2001 became the tool of power-seekers, manipulators and fame-addicts.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki said it well: “I do lament the fact that the tremendous sense of unity we had after Sept. 11 is no longer the case. We were for a while all united, everyone, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. Sept. 11 gave us the opportunity to set a national agenda instead of a partisan agenda. Unfortunately, now we’re seeing the opposite.”

From tragedy, terror and turmoil rose a fragile Camelot of unity. That now lies in ruins as surely as the World Trade Center did. Apparently people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have checked their “pulse of the nation” monitors and decided that the time for reverence and decency has passed and that we can now begin the sideshows.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber will be enthroned in Alaska for a gathering of, as Palin so delicately puts it, “patriots who will never forget” the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (The inference, of course, being that the rest of the callous slugs in the country (aka Democrats) are neither patriotic nor possessed of a functioning memory).

Beck and Palin insist that the rally is non-political. Uh huh. Right. That’s why the cost to join in this observation of “patriotism” is $200 a ticket. Do they plan to donate that money to the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11? Somehow I doubt it, for if they did one can be sure that Beck would be blaring that (complete with the convenient tears of what he calls emotion) and ol’ Sarah would be FaceBooking and Twittering her way into a nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome. One doesn’t often (if ever) find the words “Beck”, “Palin” and “altruism” in the same sentence.

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” – John Adams

Meanwhile in Florida the pastor of a tiny congregation threatened to burn Qu’rans (thus creating an international furor and claiming his 15 minutes of fame), campaigning politicians sprinkle their ads with images of 9/11 destruction, Tea Partiers rally to “Take back” the country, American Muslims look over their shoulders nervously, the nation is divided against itself and the First Amendment is in a wrestling match over a proposed Community Center two blocks from Ground Zero.

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Thomas Jefferson

And I wonder what America will be like twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now. Will we be “educated” and tolerant or will this growing tsunami of anger and divisiveness corrode the foundation and cause this magnificent house of dreams and achievements to collapse?  (The tale of the Judgment of Solomon comes to mind: dividing the living child in two).

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.