On 9/11, I was working for Merrill Lynch in the financial district of Manhattan when the buildings came down.
At the time I was not quite sure what was happening. I believe the normal reaction would have been to run and get out of there as quickly as possible, but I was mesmerized. Even though I was at the center of Ground Zero of a terrorist attack I did not move. In fact, after the first plane hit, I watched the T.V. monitor for the latest developments.
I didn’t move because I didn’t know what was happening, nor could I comprehend that someone would actually fly a plane into a building. After a ten minute lull, the light bulb went off in my head and I made for the exits. I will always remember those first ten minutes because of the way I responded…as did everyone else around me. None of us moved.
In hindsight, I should have known what was happening. Previously, I had actually read a book about the likelihood of such an attack. I am a big Nelson Demille fan and around 1999-2001 I devoured everything he wrote including his book “The Lions Game.” The plot centered around a terrorist who uses a plane to kill people. The book goes into great lengths to lay out the possibility of the Twin Towers being destroyed by planes. As a former Marine Officer, I had spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm and had taken numerous courses on terrorism and anti-terrorism. Still, at the epicenter of an attack, I was momentarily lost along with everyone else.
This inability to react, known as the normalcy bias is a common human reaction. Some events are so evil in nature they become almost incomprehensible to the human mind as they are occurring.
Now, fourteen years after 9/11, another type of evil has surfaced and the normalcy bias is fully in play. The assault on Free Speech has begun and woefully few of us are reacting as we should.
Take the latest case of Donald Trump criticizing the U.S government’s policy on immigration. Trump has asserted that Mexico is sending the U.S many of its worst citizens. He was not saying all Mexicans were bad; just that a portion of the illegals that come here tend to commit a variety of violent crimes against U.S citizens. Trump thinks the conditions allowing this assault to continue need to be immediately and fully addressed… as should every law abiding citizen.That he may speak inartfully does not change the truthfulness of the message.
For speaking truth, Trump’s projects and contracts have been 1) cancelled by by N.B.C; 2) nullified by Macy’s ; 3) terminated by Univison; boycotted by the PGA, and deemed by the Mayor of New York City to be in threat of terminating Trump’s business contracts with the city (by the way, an action a government entity is prohibited from taking…unless of course its headed by a Socialist).
The fact that Donald Trump is a billionaire and can handle these financial losses is irrelevant. This is a direct attack on a citizen’s Right to Free Speech as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional protection means nothing to a politically correct and politically motivated press and corporate entities, both of which drink at the trough of crony capitalism.
The assault on Trump is also a direct warning shot across the bow of any potential Presidential candidate who has politically “incorrect” ideas on immigration: Speak out and you will feel the wrath of retribution.
Beware if you take glee in the push-back Trump is experiencing. Your revelry will be temporary. As the issues and topics change, and this faux outrage is deliberately inflamed, more and more average Americans will find themselves the object of such brutal attacks, having their business shut down for not complying with the dictates of the politically correct.
Even before Trump, such attacks on bakers and florist unwilling to tend to gay clientele have forced many of them to close shop while sending chills down the spines of people who believe in free speech.
If you doubt it’s coming to a “theater near you,” look to history. History is filled with reactionaries and revolutionaries who attacked their opponents for not cowing to the political winds of the moment. Look at Robespierre, leader of the French Revolution, who was ultimately executed by the same beast he had created.
Free Speech is under assault and the counter cultural is jumping for joy as their enemies are taken down. But an assault on Free Speech, once commenced and unopposed, develops an insatiable hunger until there is nothing left to consume but the last vestiges of a once free society.
Most Americans, having grown up in a society that abhorred censorship, are experiencing the normalcy bias. They can’t perceive the attack because they still believe the First Amendment will save us. But lurking in the wings is the second wave of assault: The shutting down of religious institutions that still define marriage in the traditionalist sense. Once their voices are silenced…well, once again history is instructive. Hitler had all the images of Jesus removed from the Churches and replaced with those of “Der Fuhrer.”
We are not having a national experience of first impression. Our own history is replete with courageous citizens who have tried to awaken us out of our collective slumber.
In the 1950’s Whitaker Chambers, Time Magazine editor, testified against Alger Hiss claiming he, along with many other government officials, were Communist sympathizers and spies for Russia; claims that were later to be found true. Chambers said one of the hardest things he had to do was convince his colleagues of the threat, even though he possessed physical proof of their traitorous ways. His colleagues, as well as the general population, could not comprehend that their fellow Americans actually hated their own country, opposed everything it stood for and conspired with the enemy towards its destruction. Again, the normalcy bias in play.
The once former Leftist radical, David Horowitz, went through a similar awakening as a Leftist radical working with the Black Panthers in the 1960’s. An avowed Leftist, his main goal was to bring down the traditional institutions of the U.S. During the time Horowitz worked with the Black Panther Party, its members killed a young female colleague of his that he had recommend work for them. The murder of his friend devastated him so completely that he was forced to reevaluate everything he believed and stood for up to that time.
The ruthlessness of the Left to reach their objectives changed Horowitz so deeply that he abandoned the movement. Today, Horowitz is a fearlessly outspoken opponent of Leftism and lectures around the country on its true aims and goals. He admits that he never saw the possibility of his friend being killed and so missed all of the warning signs that led to her death. Upon reflection, he realizes that he had misread the viciousness of the Black Panther Party and the extent they would go to achieve their aims. Again, the normalcy bias in play.
Donald Trump is the voice trying to awaken we the people from the latest normalcy bias delusion. Fact: We are losing our Right to Free Speech. Fact: We are being taken down by a failed and dangerous immigration policy. The attacks against Trump are coming in many forms and from many directions. Truth is shaking the corrupt and the evil-doers in both parties. Unopposed by the masses, those same forces will feed off the power of our inaction and grow stronger.
When they eventually come for the shopkeeper, the school teacher and the plumber…and make no mistake they will come…there will be no Donald Trump to withstand the onslaught. There will only be those of us who remained silent when it mattered.
And it will be too late to speak.