Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.


I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?


Vaginas are akin to “landmines”?

Just when I think I can’t dislike Donald Trump more, something comes along to make me reconsider that idea. This morning, I read about Donald Trump’s visit to Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day. Some people were praising him for his “love” for veterans. I guess they forgot about Trump’s regrettable comments to the late Senator John McCain, who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam as Trump dodged the draft, or his incredibly insensitive phone call to the wife of a fallen troop, in which he repeatedly referred to woman’s dead husband as “your guy” instead of learning the man’s name.

In any case, when one woman praised Trump and his “love” for veterans and ability to salute properly, a man shared an article from People magazine that dates from 2016. It was about some disgusting comments Donald Trump made to Howard Stern back in the 1990s. Among those comments were these:

  • “It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier,” (said in reference to dating during the AIDS epidemic.)
  • Trump called women’s vaginas “potential landmines” and said “there’s some real danger there.”
  • In 1993, Trump boasted to Howard Stern about his promiscuous lifestyle while he was still single and said that men who didn’t go to Vietnam shouldn’t feel guilty because dating during the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s was also dangerous.
  • Trump said to Stern in that 1993 interview, “You know, if you’re young, and in this era, and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam — it’s called the dating game. Dating is like being in Vietnam. You’re the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.” (REALLY?)
Yeah… this is a man who honors veterans on Memorial Day, claiming his perverted sex life during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s is akin to being a soldier in Vietnam. Disgusting.

Of course, Trump later excused those comments as “just words”. He also referred to his infamous statement in 2005 about “grabbing women by the pussy” as “locker room talk”. I remember he also made comments about the late Princess Diana and how he’d always wanted to date her and would sleep with her “without hesitation”, but he’d be sure to “send her to the doctor”, first. He made those remarks in 1997, again on the Howard Stern show, just after the princess died.

Yes, I know he was on Howard Stern’s show and Howard Stern is known for being a “shock jock”. I know Trump’s disgusting rhetoric appeals to a large segment of the population, especially braindead white men who only think with their dicks. What I don’t understand is how this vile, despicable, embarrassing man is the president of the United States. How is it that God fearing, salt of the earth, hard working people with traditional values can embrace this man who would openly refer to their wives’ and daughters’ vaginas as “land mines” and brag about sexually assaulting them, while he presumes that they’ll give him a sexually transmitted disease?

Trump and his family are now in the United Kingdom, where they will meet with Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, and the rest of the family. I wonder if they’ll be able to keep a straight face as they recall the horrible comments Trump made about Duchess Kate when illicit photos of her sunbathing topless were shared in the media. Trump apparently felt it was no big deal that the press invaded Kate’s privacy and published those photos, especially since it meant they would make a lot of money… at least until they were sued and forced to pay £92,000 in damages.

I will never understand women– especially female veterans– who cheer for Donald Trump. I know some people only do it because they want a Republican in office, but it seems like Republicans would want someone decent… or at least qualified for the job. Donald Trump would never be hired for a government service position, and he couldn’t hack the military due to his “bone spurs”. And yet, he’s the president, even after he made disgusting comments that degrade all women and sexually harassed the likes of Princess Diana. I just don’t get it.

After breakfast this morning, I went back to that article that appeared in the Military Times about Trump and Melania at Arlington National Cemetery before their trip to England. I read yet another very active comment thread starting by an apparently delusional woman with total cognitive dissonance, continually expressing admiration and praise for Trump as she reported her plans to visit her father in the cemetery. She seemed to be equating Trump with her father, whom she said served 31 years, and her husband, who is a retired Navy man. People tried to point out the incongruence of comparing draft dodging Trump with guys who’d actually served in the military, but she wasn’t having it. And anyone who said anything to her was either personally insulted or asked if they’d “served” or grown up in a military family. When I couldn’t take the comments anymore, I offered one of my own… something I may regret doing. Here it is:

The amount of cognitive dissonance among Trump supporters is truly astonishing. This is a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy and said women’s vaginas are akin to “land mines”. He disparaged John McCain for being a POW, got out of serving in Vietnam (although considers his personal Vietnam the AIDS era, as he did his best to avoid catching STDs while screwing multiple women), and didn’t even bother to show up to the cemetery last year because of rain.  

I get wanting a Republican in office, but why in the world don’t Republicans demand a person with more strength of character, experience, and decency? Trump could never be hired for a regular government job. And I say this as the daughter, niece, cousin, and wife of many people who served in the military. I myself served in the Peace Corps, which is yet another way to “serve”. I would hope those of you crowing about how non-veterans have no right to an opinion about the military would consider the fact that many people put on a uniform every day to protect that right for ALL Americans.

Well… I will go on record as saying yes, I am married to an Army vet, the daughter of an Air Force vet, and have uncles, cousins, and even an aunt who served in all branches of the military. I, too, have even “served”, though not in the military, but as a Peace Corps Volunteer (there is more than one way to serve one’s country, although I would never refer to myself as a veteran). I feel plenty qualified and entitled to offer my opinions about 45. I think it’s a disgrace that he was even allowed to run for president, let alone elected. I have hope that people will wise up and vote differently in 2020, but when I read all of the mind numbingly stupid comments on articles by the Military Times or similar publications, it makes me realize that there’s an epidemic of people who are simply blinded to reality and care much more about “getting theirs” than people as a whole. Unless, of course, the people in question happen to be “unborn”.

Anyway… good on Trump for visiting the cemetery to honor Memorial Day, even though he will be out of the country for the actual holiday. I think I’d be a lot more impressed if he’d just simply vacate the White House and go back to being a sleazy B grade celebrity on Howard Stern’s radio show. He’s not fit to be president. And, as stupid, misguided, and tone deaf as I found the pro-Trump comments from that woman who kept bragging about her dead veteran father at Arlington, I’ll bet her late dad and her husband are much better men than Trump is on his least offensive day… which I assume would be when he’s under anesthesia, comatose, or something.