Unlike any event in history, including Pearl Harbor, the attacks of September 11, 2001 brought to the forefront of every American mind the vulnerability that our complacency created. A more recent lasting effect on our society would be the newly passed health care policy in which free health care will be provided to those public servants who are battling illnesses as a result of their service in the toxic environment surrounding the world trade centers. This is a long-term commitment promised by our government.
I think that one of the biggest things about the attacks is that it made us aware of the fact that we were vulnerable on our own soil. Before that terrorism and war was something that took place in other countries, but not something we had to be concerned with in the United States.
Predictably, Americans gave up many of their freedoms from government surveillance and detention out of immediate fear of further attacks. The PATRIOT Act was not a set of legislative ideas someone came up with right after the attacks, they were goals of law and order advocates for decades and the 9/11 attacks were a way to get them passed. The surveillance and arrest and detention powers given to government are not ones that are either easily controlled or rolled back. So the long term effect, in my eyes, is that we have slightly more order in our society and decidedly less freedom.
On September 11, 2001, the comfort of Americans was permanently disrupted. Not since the attack on Pearl Harbor has the United States been so greatly threatened; in addition, since this attack is the only one on the mainland, it created much more fear and paranoia since Americans realized that their country is so vulnerable. Many Americans changed their perspective regarding the Middle East and their attitude toward Muslims.
In order to calm the fear of Americans and ensure their safety, the Patriot Act was given passage, but it is an act that has changed many aspects of American life. Security at airports has greatly increased, forbidding people to bring certain items onto planes and subjecting them to searches. In many other venues, too, people must pass through security sites. The economic effect of this and other security measures throughout the country has greatly affected the productivity growth of the U.S.
Besides the economic and psychological effects of the attack on 9/11, there have been many adverse health effects for rescue and recovery workers who were exposed to the 2.500 contaminants in the area around the sight of the plane crashes in New York.
While the long term effects of these attacks are not yet clear, the short term effects are very clear. The attacks have made us into a much more worried country with much more of a security presence than we would ever have tolerated before.
The clearest impact on the US can be seen in the security lines at airports. We are now in a situation where we are scanned down to our skins at airports. We have to take our shoes off and leave liquids behind. We cannot have loved ones see us off as we board the planes anymore.
Because of the fear that the attacks have instilled in us, we are more willing to accept intrusive security operations on the part of the government.