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Some things don't change Carlos R. Davalos | Sun, Sep 11 2011 12:00 PM

I don't know that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center changed me.

Like most every other American old enough to grasp the event's enormity, I'll remember where I was as I watched the first tower burn. I'll remember feeling numb. Uncertain. Fortunately, none of my friends or relatives died that day and so I have no sense of personal loss.

I am not any more or less patriotic. I am not any more or less tolerant of Muslims or people who look like they might be.

I am not any more or less fearful there will be another terrorist attack and I do not feel any more or less safe, even if Osama bin Laden was killed.

What has changed is the landscape around me.

In the immediate days and years after the attack it was understood this country had been critically wounded. As such, it seemed inappropriate to do or say things that might disturb this nation's already frazzled psyche.

Our national press didn't push as hard as it could have and should have in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq and the ultimate execution of Saddam Hussein.

While then President George Bush's claim that Iraq stored terrorist weapons of mass destruction wasn't taken at face value, the press didn't force the issue as diligently as it could have for fear of appearing unpatriotic.

As that mindset grew and took hold, it became easier - maybe even expected - to adapt a "silence is golden" stance.

It wasn't overnight but it seemed that way when criticism of the president or the military, or the questioning of motives was construed as un-American.

Perhaps the biggest and loudest example of the blooming intolerance came after a member of the Texas band The Dixie Chicks suggested she was ashamed Bush was from the Lone Star State. Radio stations refused to play their music and Americans gathered in cities throughout the country to destroy the group's CDs.

Country singer Toby Keith seemed to capture the nation's collective attitude when he wrote a song with the memorable and crowd pleasing lyric:

"And you'll be sorry you messed with the U.S. of A

"Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way."

In those years after 9/11, "America, love it or leave it" became more battle cry than a bumper sticker sentiment. The world to us lost all shades of gray. You were with us or against us.

Like me, some things haven't changed since 9/11.

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