13 years later, complacency is our biggest threat

We seem to be living in denial.

On the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on NYC and Washington, we seem to be living in denial.

Recent polls show a terrorist attack on America down the list of our concerns. When a Gallup Poll earlier this year asked Americans to name the most important problems facing the nation, the top three were jobs, the economy in general and dissatisfaction with the government. Terrorism and another possible attack didn’t even make the top 12.

On Aug. 29, the United Kingdom raised its terror threat level from substantial to severe. In the States, we seem more unsure, even as President Barack Obama coordinates a military strategy to stop the murderous Islamic State.

Former members of the 9/11 Commission recently assessed the terrorist threat to the United States. “Many Americans think that the terrorist threat is waning,” the panel said. “They are wrong. . . . We cannot afford to be complacent.”

Too many of us have not only grown complacent, but also cynical. After the lies about weapons of mass destruction and the like, and the electronic invasions of our privacy, it’s not surprising that many Americans distrust anything the government says.

Along with cynicism and apathy, the commission report cites a dysfunctional Congress as an impediment to preparedness. The funding of national security is fragmented, the report notes, with the Department of Homeland Security reporting to more than 90 congressional panels. “Congress has proved deeply resistant to needed change,” the report concludes.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks and homegrown terrorists are perhaps our greatest domestic threat. While there have been no large-scale terrorist attacks on us since 9/11 (a number have been thwarted), the Boston Marathon bombing shows that we still must be vigilant.

So as we pay our respects to those innocents who died on 9/11, and those heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others that day, let’s stop our political squabbling and focus on the fanatics who couldn’t care less if we are Democrats or Republicans — we are all infidels to them. Hopefully this realization will make us again band together as Americans, drop the petty politics and focus on our true enemies — before it is too late.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

Mike Vogel