by Katharine Daniels and Alexandra Daniels
Looking back we remember Felicia, our Brooklyn sister and loyal friend. The woman who always greeted you with a big smile and a sincere “Hi there sweet cheeks.” Every year, we put on a little Maxwell and dance around the living room, pretending for just a few minutes that she is still here dancing with us.
Looking back we remember how ten years ago America had international support – an alliance that was lost as quickly as it was offered when our nation began to unravel the very constitution that makes us who we are. As the Bush Administration declared war on the biggest enemy it could find, the dominant media failed us when they bought the myth that somehow patriotism and blind-faith in our leaders are intertwined in a post-9/11 world.
Despite all the invocations of “never forget” we do have historical amnesia. Just think of the centennial celebrations earlier this year that recalled so euphorically Ronald Reagan – a president whose policies and ideology were catastrophic for the poor, the elderly, the mentally ill, the working class, and the environment - and the relative silence around Reagan’s policies that emboldened radical Muslim holy warriors in the mid-1980s with millions of dollars in short-sighted support.In ten years we have learned that patriotism is not synonymous with war. As we witnessed our country dragged into Iraq in the name of victims like Felicia, numerous organizations were empowered to deliver independent news - news that did not rely on cushy access to Washington D.C., news that did not rely on large-scale advertising and corporate sponsorships to sustain itself, news that is not brought to you by General Electric, Clear Channel, or Rupert Murdoch. September 11th inspired us to do something more with a life we learned is invariably fleeting, full of complacency, and led by a few powerful individuals. Felicia may be dead, but in her name is born a publication that promotes truth, understanding, and peace.
We know peace does not follow an invasion, a strategic alliance with an enemy, or a drone attack. We know peace does not follow the perpetuation of “us” versus “them” – a mentality that divides, never unites. We know peace can not exist where there is hatred, greed, or dishonesty. Peace is achieved when there is respect, equality, truthfulness, and love.
Looking forward we have an opportunity to transform the policies and perspectives that foster anti-Americanism around the globe. Felicia was open, loving, and inclusive. She was a forgiving friend. If we are going to use her name, it is time to use it rightly - beginning in our communities with understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.
In our minds, America is not what we have become since 9/11. Our politics, rhetoric, and foreign policy are not emblematic of “indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.” While we are a nation that may have been co-opted by a handful of individuals who have taken advantage of a disaster to increase their power, we still have an opportunity to do right by our friends that were lost.
The WIP embodies the values of our friend Felicia. We are committed to peace. We believe peace will be achieved by connecting people from every nation, every religion, every gender, every socioeconomic sector of society.
It is only by uniting that we can prevent anything like September 11th, 2001 from ever happening again.