Today, the country solemnly commemorated 15 years of the terrible terrorist attack of 9/11, which caused the death of nearly 3,000 people. It was the awakening of the average American to the threat of extremist Islamism and its capacity for destruction. Much has changed since then: Osama Bin Laden is no more, and the Al-Qaeda menace has been replaced by ISIS. That is why it is worth asking if our country is safer now than on that fateful day.
The fact that no other attacks of the same magnitude have happened in the U.S. is a good sign. It is well-known that the authorities have frustrated a number of plans and that terrorists aboard passenger planes have fortuitously failed in carrying out suicide missions.
After the attacks, the lives of Americans changed with the purpose of having more security, from the way we travel by plane to a growing harassment of the Muslim community and the questionable Patriot Act, with its impact on individual civil rights.
Since 2002, $548 billion have been assigned to the Department of Homeland Security, created after 9/11. Still, polls show that Americans feel less safe now than, for instance, two years ago because the terrorist threat has also changed.
Unlike the attacks seen in Europe, the San Bernardino, California, and the Orlando attacks were individual actions committed by radicalized Americans, making 2016 year one of the bloodiest in recent times. This has generated a sense of growing insecurity and a worsening of a hostile attitude towards Muslims.
Unfortunately, that tendency to blame an entire community and a religion for the actions of a few extremists is being manipulated with proselytizing purposes for the upcoming presidential election. The Republican candidate is dividing Americans by appealing to fear with his strategy, which puts an emphasis on national security. By saying that “with my policies” none of this would have happened, Donald Trump is dishonoring the victims of that terrible day.
Global terrorism in 2016 is worse than before. The threat of U.S.-born terrorists is real. But if 9/11 united Americans before, today it is being used for political purposes to turn them against each other. It is terrible to see that, 15 years later, the dangers unveiled that day are more than ever being shamelessly manipulated to get votes.