September 11, 2001: Never Forget. Seems like a fitting slogan for such an atrocious tragedy. However, forget is exactly what we've done since September 11, 2001. We've forgotten what Benjamin Franklin warned, "Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security." We've forgotten about the excess of 1 trillion dollars we've spent on two wars since, aiding the bankrupting of our country just as those that opposed us predicted would happen. We've forgotten about the brave men and women who came to the aid of others on that day and their families with policy that undermines their need for long-term support due to the incident. We've forgotten that although 3,000 were killed, the ensuing vengeance we employed has led to the loss of life of twice that many in U.S. troops. We've forgotten about the children killed by drone strikes. We've forgotten about Pat Tillman and the way he was treated by our "brave military leaders." We've forgotten how we've let capitalism taint our image of freedom by allowing special interest groups and profiteers to get rich off of the death of others. We've allowed mercenaries to penetrate our war zone and paid them for it. We've forgotten that our government lulled us into its confidence with promises of security and revenge to fund an illegal war that is after 10 years only now winding down. If you're looking to blame anyone for the actions taken by our government after 9/11, you only need a mirror.
For the purpose of this list, let's intentionally ignore some things. Let's ignore Operation Northwoods:
Let's ignore that our government had sought justification for invading Iraq and Afghanistan for some time before the 9/11 attacks. Let's ignore the abundance of opium exports that followed our arrival in Afghanistan. Let's forget Ahmed Karzai was on our CIA's payroll. Let's forget Halliburton was awarded $7 billion for a contract only Halliburton was allowed to bid on. Let's forget Iran-Contra and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Let's pretend our government is completely incapable of ever unjustly taking human life for profit and imperialism.
We can forget about the questions and shady operation surrounding Bin Laden's death. We can forget about the discrepancy in the falling of Tower 7. We can forget that there has ever been an inquiry to whether Islamic extremists under the instruction of Osama Bin Laden were actually who attacked us on that day. We can forget about the Islamaphobia coined by Conservative media, yet still deeply rooted in many of us personally.
There are some things that shouldn't be forgotten, however. There are some things we've not given adequate attention to due to the climate of fear that was created 10 years ago. There are many recent atrocities that when 2011 passes, won't be memorialized, or even acknowledged by most of us. These events are written off in corners of the world pushed away and labeled as a hindrance or carelessly shrugged off as a waste of time.
4. The War on Drugs
Cutting off drug suppliers has been like fighting the mythical Lernaean Hydra. When one route is cut off, two more pop up elsewhere. Recently, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released, "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed." Why the War on Drugs has failed is another discussion entirely, but the detrimental effects of our drug policy are incredibly apparent. Despite having spent over $1 trillion dollars, including $15 billion in federal funds last year, drugs are still readily available and as easy to acquire and sell as ever before. Why haven't we ended this declaration of "war" on our own citizens? Well, if you want to delve into semantics, the Obama administration abandoned the term "Drug War" despite failing to reform drug policy at all. Other than the immense profit that could potentially be lost by pharmaceutical companies, tobacco and alcohol companies, and private prisons, the Drug War is perpetuated by one distinctly human emotion. Embarrassment. Embarrassment at the excess of $1 trillion dollars spent. Embarrassment that Kenneth Melson felt after resigning due to his gun policy resulting in 70% of drug cartel thugs being armed with U.S. weapons. Embarrassment that the longest "war" in U.S. history has left over 40,000 dead. Embarrassment in that even though it violates accepted Judeo-Christian principles, drug decriminalization has been undeniably successful. Embarrassment that during the debt ceiling debacle, nobody considered ending our most costly, deadly venture. The Sunk-Cost Effect reveals the human tendency to remain in futile endeavors because of not wanting to write time and resources spent off as a waste. All those that died, all of the ATF agents, all of the DEA agents, the 55% percent of federal prisoners that are incarcerated for drug crimes, the 87% of them that are non-violent, would all be a waste. We haven't failed, we've just taken 40 years to figure out drug legislation doesn't work.
3. Famine in Somalia
Every time a cute, young girl dies in the United States, Nancy Grace becomes relevant for a year. What Nancy Grace continually fails to do is put anything in perspective. What if Nancy Grace was a reporter in Africa? Let's just say she wouldn't have to wait for the next beautiful, young white teen to get kidnapped in Aruba or unfit mother to abuse her child to feel important. Out of a population of around 7.5 million, an estimated 3 million are in need of immediate assistance in Somalia due to the drought and subsequent famine. At the beginning of August, it was estimated that in the preceding 90 days, 29,000 children under 5 had died as a result of the famine. If Nancy Grace put in for a position in Somalia, she could abandon writing 8th grade reading level novels.
2. Female Genital Mutilation
Imagine one day, as a child, you were led away into a room by somebody you knew and trusted your entire, short life. Then, this person that you've always known to care for you touches you where you've been taught was sacred and without anesthetic or adequate sterilization cuts and slashes as you scream in pain. After that, you can never enjoy nature's most primal drive, you have a lifetime risk of infection, incontinence, pelvic inflammation, cysts, and chronic pain, and you're convinced this process is necessary for the maintenance of your purity. As if that weren't enough, depending on the severity of that first procedure, you may have to be cut open again on your wedding night, and then again for the birth of your child--that is assuming you were not made infertile by the previous procedures. As of 1997 135 million girls had undergone this abomination, including over 90% of the female population in some African regions.
1. Deaths from Vioxx
Dr. Scott Reuben had done plenty of work for Pfizer and Merck and was rewarded quite handsomely for it. Two of the largest profit-generating drugs were Celebrex for Pfizer and Vioxx for Merck, with Vioxx generating $2.5 billion in sales revenue the year before it was pulled. These were both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with research backing their efficacy. The only problem with the clinical trials was that nobody was ever enrolled in the studies. What was an embarrassing, "oops" for the FDA became an apology to the companies that produced the drugs signed in $360,000 of returned grant money from Reuben, who got a slap on the wrist and a 6 month sentence. So life goes on right? Well, not for the estimated 28,000-139,000 people that may have died as a result of heart complications due to taking Vioxx.