By Gerald Ensley of the Tallahassee Democrat:
I'm tired of Sept. 11, 2001. The attack by terrorists is ruining this nation.
I'm tired of what Sept. 11 has done to free speech. Colorado University professor Ward Churchill is on the verge of being fired for talking frankly about Sept. 11. How can anyone not believe U.S. policies overseas have helped fuel terrorism? So what if he called Sept. 11 victims "little Eichmanns," in reference to the architect of the Jewish holocaust? It was just a metaphor. But what he said is not the issue. The issue is that universities should be sanctuaries for radical and unpopular ideas. Allowing free-talking professors is how we protect dissent and advance understanding, which are the basis of a free society.
I'm tired of what Sept. 11 has done to American justice. We're jailing suspects in Cuba, Afghanistan and Thailand without charges, without access to attorneys and without notification to human-rights organizations. We're torturing suspected terrorists in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. We used to be better than Third World barbarians. Now, we're just another country of thugs.
I'm tired of what Sept. 11 has done to airline travel. Tired of pat-down searches of grandmothers. Tired of taking off my shoes to board a plane. Tired of ridiculous parking restrictions. When the terrorists come, do you think they'll say, "Oh, look, I'm not allowed to park in front of the terminal; I guess I'll take this load of explosives somewhere else"?
I'm tired of what Sept. 11 has done to public buildings. Tired of having to empty my pockets every time I walk into the Capitol. Tired of going through a metal detector at the county courthouse. Tired of having to sign in and out to visit City Hall. Do you really think a sign-in sheet will stop a terrorist?
I'm tired of the Department of Homeland Security, which sounds like a Big Brother nightmare - and behaves like it. I don't want live in a country that keeps no-fly lists or videotapes people at ballgames.
I'm tired of the irrational fear of people who worry they'll be a victim of terrorism. Life is a crapshoot every day. You could be hit by a bus or a tsunami. You could develop cancer or pneumonia. The Sept. 11 attacks killed 2,819 people - fewer than the number of people killed in boating accidents each year. Instead of supporting every measure that purports to stop terrorism, demand better health care, safer vehicles and more scientific research.
I'm tired of the ridiculous notion that every place in America is a target. They're coming to Tallahassee because the president's brother lives here. They're going to bomb the Super Bowl because it's America's big game. They're going to gas a YMCA in Topeka because it's an American institution in the American heartland. Everything in America is American. Everything can't be a target.
I'm tired of red-orange-yellow alerts. Osama bin Laden and his gang took 20 years to launch Sept. 11. If they had another shoe to drop, they would have already.
Sept. 11 was a criminal act. Those responsible ought to be pursued, arrested and punished. But it didn't happen because reasonable safeguards weren't in place or because we weren't aware of terrorism. It occurred because bad guys always find a way around safeguards, and terrorism is a product of evil people. To erode our legal protections, to escalate our levels of security or to live in daily fear of terrorism will not protect us against evil. It will only diminish the lives and freedoms of good people. That's wrong. And I'm tired we keep forgetting that.