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The 9/11 Era is over

by Archives January 27, 2009

As the clouds parted and the skies cleared, there was calm again in the land and everyone lived happily ever after. W and his gang of cronies have departed from the White House, allowing his natural successor, a one-term senator with African-Muslim heritage, to assume the throne of American executive power.
What an astonishing journey the last eight years have been. The numerous lows (9/11, Iraq, Katrina, the financial crisis), the rare positives (a shoe throwing incident, Bushisms, i.e. ‘Internets’) . . . without a doubt, George W. Bush’s presidency was momentous and is certain to cast a heavy influence over the next 20 years of political history.
These days, in America and in the sleepy corridors of Concordia, there is a little bounce in everyone’s step. The notion of confident, competent leadership in the White House is a comfort most of us have not enjoyed since the Lewinsky-less days of the Clinton nineties. It’s easy to forget just how fear-stricken and paranoid we were of terrorism, immigrants and of the crushing powerlessness of the W era.
Many of us personally witnessed and intermittently participated in protests against the war in Iraq, the gruelling battle to defeat W in 2004 and the fight to defend Muslims and Arabs from prejudice and profiling. Throughout that period and despite our efforts, the level of dissent against W and his administration never amounted to anything substantial.
It was not an easy battle. Thousands from our generation were shipped off to die for false causes in the Middle East. Thousands more were imprisoned without due process, forced to endure torture or disappeared into secret overseas prisons. Our e-mail and phone calls were tapped. Media outlets crossed the line and became stridently militaristic. And in the last few months of W’s administration, with stock market indexes plunging and millions losing their jobs and homes, a palpable sense of gloom descended upon America and Canada.
While W exited the national stage in an atypically quiet fashion, the reality of the end of his era finally being over resounds louder than a bomb. He did not overwhelm the media spotlight upon exit.
Instead, America, Canada and millions around the world woke up on Wednesday, Jan. 21 to a new dawn and a new world. News headlines told of a black president, an end in sight to the war in Iraq and the imminent closure of Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay.
When we look back on 2001-2009, we’ll recall dark clouds swirling around a captivating, often bumbling figure. My real hope is that we will also recall the lessons we learned. We have to recall that we can never allow one party, one ideology, not even one president, to dictate the popular agenda. We can never allow irrational fear of faceless terrorists and accusations of being unpatriotic to coerce us into self-censorship. And we must recall, above all else, that when a man says we have to go to war for the good of peace, that we must suspend our liberties, logic and common sense for our security and that one group of people are somehow more liable to be evil than another, we will have the courage and the integrity to say “no.”
The 9/11 era and the days of W are over. A new dawn is upon us. Let’s get to work.

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