Facebook will not delete the picture heading this post, eventhough it is contrary to its Terms of Use. A few days ago it did so with the picture which passed into History as the icon of the failure of the United States in the Vietnam War. World’s biggest social network erased a post from Norway’s main newspaper, Aftenpoften, which had this photo as an example of pictures which had changed our conception of war. The next morning, the editor-in-chief put the picture into the newspaper’s printed front page with a white, big «Dear Mark Zuckerberg» printed on a facebook-blue background, and flooded Oslo with it. The Prime Minister Solberg and the rest of the politicians went further and, together, they published the picture in their personal profiles; Facebook also deleted those posts but, under the pressure of the international media, it gave in and backed down.

Espen Egil Hansen’s main point in his open letter to Facebook’s owner is that the social network has become the favourite media provider of, for instance, 44 per cent of the American people. And, in that condition, it has ethical, political and democratic responsibilities. And that it cannot do certain things, like disrespecting the basic principle of the freedom of expression./ We all should thank to Aftenpoften and, being generous, to this whole country of barely five million people which had given us a lesson, once and again.

We challenge threats against our freedom every day. Fifteen years ago, the world witnessed on live TV a plane hitting a 100-floors skyscraper and then again, and then the Pentagon, and then the World Trade Center collapsing on itself, all of it in our screen. Three thousand people died that day, and another three thousand people have died because of the consequences of that day just in New York. Dozens of thousands have died since then as a consequence of the war against terror declared fifteen years ago by a President elected for manage healthy economic growth who became a war President in a matter of 18 minutes, the time elapsed between the suspect of an airplane accident and the certainty of an attack against the United States.

Smoke and ash engulf lower Manhattan on September 11 2001. Photograph: Greg Semendinger (NYPD)/AP
Smoke and ash engulf lower Manhattan on September 11 2001. Greg Semendinger (NYPD)/AP

The world changed forever, and we all knew it instantly. I was 8 years old when I walked into my grandparents’ house after school and found my grandma in the living room, her hands on her face, watching my beloved Twin Towers –I loved that buildings, so tall and straight in the middle of a magic city– on fire; I will not forget that day. As a consequence of an attack of a kind never seen before or after, our freedom became under permanent attack, until today. The hijacked planes were crashed on a building full of people and on a system of values which also collapsed right after the towers. Since then, Madrid, London, Moscow, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Beirut, Kabul, New Delhi, countless cities around the world bleed and lost innocent lives because they wanted and chose to be free. Since then, in the name of security, freedom has been restricted at home, and lives have been taken abroad. The 9/11 settled a new world, worse and more instable than the one existing on 9/10, 2001.

But also the 9/11, Madrid and London bombings, Paris attacks, all of them showed the strength of a civilization built to be free. The memorials today show the heroes who went upstairs instead of down, to give their lives for others; the men and women helping injured people in the railways; the heart-breaking stories of those who put themselves in the way of a bullet or a track.

Fifteen years after the world changed forever, I have the feeling that we do not value at all the freedoms we have, the liberty of being as we are, to say what we believe and to do what we do, and the cost that freedoms have in this world of anxiety and fear. We should think about how much can we lose by perishing under this kind of attacks, and about what is the correct way to fight against a threat which is always there, but which we feel just in terrible days like that sunny Tuesday of 2001.

Thanks for staying there.


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