Five years ago I was merging onto the Boulder turnpike on my way into work when a news report came over the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The previous day, I was a pallbearer at my grandfather’s funeral. By the time I walked into the office, both towers were toppled, the Pentagon was hit and “heroes” had taken over a flight bound for the White House and crashed it into rural Pennsylvania (another likely scenario is the plane was shot down by F-16s with cruise missiles and the hero story was disseminated to various media outlets to cover the Air Force’s collective asses). My employer sent us all home shortly thereafter, as the tragedy became too overwhelming for anyone to focus on work. My parents called to check on my mental well-being and maybe just to hear a familiar voice. I spent the rest of the day as I imagine most other Americans did; dumbfounded, sad, angry, confused, emotionally drained and awash in bourbon. The months that followed the tragedy were a sickening whirlwind of paranoia, conspiracy and jingoism. The dust settled from the towers and the Bush Administration subverted democracy (or the illusion of democracy) for American’s “safety.” Left wing patriotic zealots clashed with right wing patriotic zealots and the brief moment of “togetherness” Americans felt was dashed away. Hatred and intolerance for Muslims boiled over. A military campaign to capture Osama Bin Laden was sent into Afghanistan and as of yet has not been successful. A war in Iraq was started under false pretenses. Those opposed to government policy were labeled “un-patriotic.” Americans remain dependent on oil and the hard-line theocratic regimes that export oil. American soldiers are dying for an administration that does not seem care about them. What have Americans learned from the September 11 attacks? Difficult times reveal a leader’s character or expose their character flaws? A selfish culture focused on money, possession and triviality is understandably not accepted and even hated by some? The September 11 attacks were a horrific tragedy, and no matter how many memorials we construct, how many we kill in the name of retribution and how many laws are passed “ensuring” our safety, it seems evident to me that we have not learned a goddamn thing.