Another 9/11 anniversary just slipped by. I’ve been trying for days to write a post about 9/11and have given up. What can I say that already hasn’t been said better by someone else? It was a terrible event, but at least as a country we seem to be finally putting it behind us to some extent. So instead of writing about 9/11 I thought I’d write about some previous 9/11s in America’s history. Terrorism isn’t something new and different, it just has new face every generation.
The Deerfield Raid. I’ve no doubt linked to it before, and one of these days I’ll write a post about it. In 1704 a French and Indian raiding party attacked the town of Deerfield Massachusetts, killing over 50 defenders and taking over 100 into captivity, marching them 300 miles to Quebec. Some eventually returned or were ransomed, some died, some chose to stay with their captors. This happened during Queen Anne’s War, but even under the standards of the time taking women and children as prisoners was over the top. It remained controversial for many years, and much diplomacy was undertaken trying to effect the return of the hostages. Still, the raid didn’t result in any major policy changes and had no effect on the outcome of the war.
The Sioux Rebellion of 1862. A few years after Minnesota was made into a state in 1858, the Sioux rebelled and tried to drive white settlers from their lands. Hundreds of settlers were massacred, but eventually the Sioux surrendered, and 38 of them were hung in the largest mass execution in US history. While it got the Sioux pretty much kicked out of Minnesota, otherwise it had little effect since for the most part Americans of the time regarded the Indians as sub-human and were already systematically stealing their lands and killing them.
The Columbus raid. In 1916 Pancho Villa, a Mexican revolutionary, led a raiding force to attack Columbus, New Mexico. A few dozen townspeople and soldiers were killed, nearly 100 of the attackers were killed. It was a big deal at the time, and General Pershing led an army of 10,000 into Mexico to capture Pancho Villa. He managed to evade capture, and after a year the Americans left, Pancho Villa having more or less being contained and eliminated as a major fighting force.
The Wall Street Bombing in 1920. Now this one is almost forgotten today, though damage done can still be seen. Someone parked a waggon packed with explosives on Wall Street, and walked way. It exploded. 38 people were killed and there was extensive property damage. The perpetrators not only were never caught, they were never even identified. Italian anarchists are the prime suspects, but no real proof has ever been offered. While it certainly got a lot of attention and increased fears of similar attacks, Wall Street was open the next day and the only lasting effect was more public support for efforts to eliminate radical anarchist groups in the USA.
There have been others, but for the most part events like this are somewhat rare in American history. 9/11 may have been spectacular, but let’s face it, the 9/11 raiding party was nineteen guys, it was only a fluke that so few attackers were able to kill several thousand people. In other respects the 9/11 attacks were no different that dozens of other bands of outlaws and criminals and insurgents that have plotted to attack America since before America was even a country. 9/11 was a terrible crime, perpetrated by a handful plotters outside America, no more and no less.
Which leads to the big difference between 9/11 and these previous attacks. In none of the previous attacks did we declare some sort of global war, massively increase the size of the US government, give all sorts of new powers to the president, suspend or water down the rights of all Americans, or declare that somehow a “War of Civilizations” was under way. In other words, our response was at least somewhat measured and appropriate to the threat at hand. Yet after 9/11 we sent American armies abroad to occupy foreign lands at staggering cost, where hundreds of thousands have died in their wake…and we are no closer to a world without terror.
In conclusion, since there have always been and always will be bands of outlaws plotting evil, there will be future 9/11s. Heck, it only took two guys to pull off the Oklahoma city bombing. So God rest the souls of every innocent who has ever died by terrorism, God grant peace to their survivors. And Dear God, let there be someone more mature and level headed in the White House the next time terrorism happens here, so we can deal with it and move on instead of hysterically over reacting.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of the aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street Bombing is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and arguably is an historically important image. I chose it because it’s the only one I could find that was shot reasonably close up. A witness said the pools of blood “sparkled in the sunlight.”)