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linlybest
linlybest Jan 11

Who were we 15 years ago, in the days before Sept. 11?

You could say that we were a different people then, trusting, dreamers believing in a fantasy that we'd never be touched by terror. Or you might say that's all nonsense, that we're the same America we've always been, that we haven't changed, not fundamentally, not really.

The thing is, the answer isn't really mine to give you. It's your answer to yourself that counts, not one offered in a column on the anniversary of 9/11.

There will be plenty of news Aaron Hernandez Jersey about it, and video clips and politics, since we're swimming in politics now as we observe the day Osama bin Laden's terrorist Cheap Aaron Hernandez Jersey network hijacked American jets and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York. Some 2,977 victims were killed immediately, in New York, and then another plane crashed into the Pentagon, and another in Pennsylvania, with passengers and crew fighting to retake control. And thousands more were injured.

So what's changed, really? Perhaps you don't want to think about it. But some do, not to wallow in nostalgia but to assess things, at least privately, over the weekend. And then we'll all watch NFL football on TV.

A few of the players might make news, not for their prowess but for their politics. Some will kneel or pout and refuse to stand for nfl jerseys cheap the national anthem. (Boilerplate: They have every right to do so.) One player started it, others followed and it might become a trend.

And after these young celebrities, ballplayers who've been pampered all their lives for their athletic talent, are done protesting racial discrimination and economic inequities, they will walk onto that field and smash their heads for big money and we will cheer and watch our bets.

It would have been inconceivable and economically disastrous for a league of billionaire owners making fortunes in publicly financed temples of sport that the NFL would allow one of their muscled employees to refuse the anthem.

Americans will forgive the NFL for enticing their sons into a sport where concussions are inevitable, where brain damage is quite possible and the destruction of the human body is designed into the game. But they would not have forgiven the NFL if players had turned their backs on the national anthem in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.

So things have changed, haven't they?

Patriotism wasn't just a feeling to heal a nation then. It was used to rally the people and prosecute the war against the terrorists in Afghanistan. Then it was used as an establishment Republican tool by the Bush administration, to goad us into needless war in Iraq and engage in nation building. I bought their argument, too, to my shame, as did others. And there was a cost, in American lives and treasure, but also in the American heart.

So as wealthy jocks refuse to stand for the anthem, there's much less outrage than there would have been. The nation reacts with a tired shrug. It's difficult to muster anger against narcissistic athletes. Especially after what the cynicism of Iraq War planners has left behind. And, now, many of those Republican intellectuals who pushed for war in Iraq have left the GOP to find greener pastures with Hillary Clinton and her Democrats.

Is that change?

My sons don't remember it, especially not the way things were before. They're in college now. They were in kindergarten then.

We shielded them from the news as best we could. Maybe it was our fantasy, believing we could exert some control over the uncontrollable. But we didn't want them brutalized with images of slaughter, those poor souls jumping from the towers, and all the political blamesmanship that followed. Yet, like most kids, they adapted.

They used Legos to build their World Trade Center towers, before smashing them to the ground in re enactments of the attacks. I don't have data, but I'd guess that many of the Legos sold in America that year became WTC towers, to be smashed, as children acted out the murders in excited voices in sunny playrooms.

Our boys were certain that America would visit the worst possible punishment imaginable on those responsible.

"I know what punishment," said one back then about what might happen to those responsible, as I wrote in a column at the time. "They'll be exiled! They'll be exiled from our country forever."

They don't know the America before then, and since 9/11 there have been wars and body bags coming home, and wounded veterans who can't get proper care, and death not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in Libya and Syria and elsewhere in the region.

And outside your home, there are cameras almost everywhere. On the tollways your license plates are photographed. Your cellphone can broadcast where you are and where you're going. Police ask for drones to help them watch us. Some Americans run to the open arms of the security state, saying they don't mind the government searching their data because, as they insist, "I have nothing to hide." And then they become irritated with you if you bring up the Bill of Rights.