With MSNBC's special tonight about the Iraq War, I've been thinking about my experience after September 11. I'm from Kansas, with conservative parents. I attended a very conservative evangelical Christian school through most of my education, and started listening to Rush Limbaugh when I was twelve years old. The first time I got to vote, I proudly filled in the circle for George W. Bush and was irritated it wasn't a lever.
As someone who had voted for George W. Bush and spent the first eight months of his Presidency defending him with decreasing faith, 9/11 appeared to show me the leader I had been hoping he'd turn into. And in the shock of that event, the Afghanistan invasion was launched. It seemed to be a justified attack on the country that harbored the person who attacked us. I remember mocking a liberal shortly after the Taliban fell with an image of a Family Guy character and text reading "Afghanistan is going to turn into a Quagmire. All riiiight!" The military adventures in Grenada and Panama and Iraq '91 led me to believe we'd be out by '03, '04 at the latest.
Then 2002 happened and there were rumblings about an Iraqi connection to 9/11. I believed it even though in retrospect it made no sense. And yellow cake uranium, even after the CIA sent an envoy to Nigeria who reported there was absolutely no way. But it was there, in the State of the Union in '03, as a justification for invading another country.
I, of course, heard none of this. It wasn't reported in the conservative media, and all other media is unreliable liberal media to the conservative mind. What I heard was George Bush saying Iraq was six months away from a weapon, and Condoleezza Rice saying "We don't want the smoking gun to be in the form of a mushroom cloud."
It didn't bother me that we were no longer on track to retire the debt by 2009. There was justice to be won, and a madman was on track to get nuclear weapons. Or he was working with Osama bin Laden on 9/11. Or he was a really bad guy. So on St. Patrick's Day, 2003, I was in a bar in Texas cheering with the rest of the people in there as George W. Bush declared that the invasion was imminent. My brother, sitting with me, hung his head and said he was ashamed to be an American that day, and I didn't understand.
Now I do.
And I'm sorry for the small part I played.