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9/11 mourners

Relatives of victims touch the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on September 11, 2022, the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks. (Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images)

Progressive Lawmakers Mark 9/11 With Calls to 'Do Better and Learn From Our Mistakes'

"We must end endless wars, close Guantánamo, and abandon unconstitutional surveillance and discriminatory policy," said the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Jessica Corbett

Amid remembrances for all those killed at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania 21 years ago Sunday, some progressives U.S. lawmakers also renewed calls to learn from the so-called "War on Terror" and discriminatory policies that followed the terrorist attacks.

"In the wake of 9/11, some government leaders chose fear and hate over healing."

"21 years ago we lost thousands of lives in the devastating 9/11 attacks," tweeted Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). "Let's remember those who we have lost, but also remember how it sparked intense Islamophobia and hatred in our country. We must continue to do better and learn from our mistakes."

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) said in a series of tweets that "today, we're thinking of all whose lives were changed that day: families grieving the loved ones taken from them, as well as communities targeted with hate and harassment for their race, religion, or national origin."

Noting that the U.S. government responded to the attacks with "two long-term military campaigns, torture, and countless civil rights and liberties violations of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, Sikh, and South Asian people," the CPC declared that "we must end endless wars, close Guantánamo, and abandon unconstitutional surveillance and discriminatory policy."

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who chairs the CPC, shared that "9/11 is when my path into activism and organizing truly began. So much changed that day, and so much has happened in the intervening two decades but our work still continues."

"Today we must remember the communities right here at home that suffered so much—not only through the terrorist attacks that affected every American's psyche, but also the hate, discrimination, and erosion of civil liberties they had to endure," she stressed.

Jayapal also pointed to the resolution she introduced on September 10, 2021 with Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to acknowledge what Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities nationwide have endured post-9/11 and offer recommendations to support those affected.

Lakshmi Sridaran, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together—one of the dozens of groups that backed the effort—said last year that "we are hopeful that this resolution will center the accountability of members of Congress to rescind the policies of the War on Terror and truly ensure the safety of all communities of color."

In a nearly 15-minute speech at the Pentagon Sunday, President Joe Biden also acknowledged the discrimination some people in the United States faced after the 2001 attacks.

"A true sense of national unity," he said, "that's the greatest lesson of September 11th—not that we will never again face a setback, but that in the moment of great unity we also had to face down the worst impulses: fear, violence, recrimination directed against Muslim Americans as well as Americans of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage."

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