Memories of 9/11 and its Aftermath
Today is the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, and many are recounting their memories of that day. In this post, I describe some of mine. But I warn in advance that my story is nowhere near as dramatic as many others. I was too far from Ground Zero for things to be any other way.
On the day of 9/11, I was clerking for a federal judge in Houston, Texas. I first heard about the attacks listening to the radio on my way to work that morning. The dial was tuned to a “top 40” station that almost never had any news. So when they interrupted the usual programming to say that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I assumed it must be some sort of hoax. I had read about the 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio program scare (some listeners were convinced there was an actual alien invasion). I thought this might be the same sort of thing.
When I got to the office and turned on my computer, I could not load the CNN website; too many other people were trying to access it. That’s when I knew the attack was real.
Business in our judge’s chambers went on more or less normally for most of the day. But I did call some people I knew in the New York area to see about their safety. The longest of these conversations was with the brother of a Muslim friend who worked near the Twin Towers. By the time we spoke (it was late morning), we already knew the attack was likely the work of radical Islamist terrorists. We discussed the implications for US foreign policy, and also the possibility of an upsurge of anti-Muslim bigotry at home. We both thought there would be a strong military response, and also both were in favor of the idea; I still think it was necessary, though many in retrospect disagree.
With respect to the other issue, I said historical precedent (I had in mind things like the persecution of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor), suggested such a backlash could well happen. But I also thought there would be more resistance to it than in earlier eras.
To an extent, I turned out to be right; but only to an extent. The initial upsu
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