Graphic of video conference. Image credit: Alexandra_Koch/Pixabay

From the World Trade Center attack in 2001 to the COVID pandemic, rabble’s political discussion forum, babble, has discussed it all from a progressive perspective. Here are some highlights from the past 20 years on babble. launched on April 18, 2001, just days before the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City caused widespread protests. rabble was there, and babble talked about it. But that year was extraordinary for more than that.

It was a warm sunny Tuesday morning when two planes flew into the World Trade Center, where more than 2,500 people died. Hundreds more died when planes crashed into the Pentagon and in a flight bound for Washington that was thwarted by passengers.

The way we saw the world was forever changed and the attacks sparked a renewed war on Iraq in 2003. This thread begins just after the first plane crashed into the North Tower. The sense of confusion and the growing understanding that it is a terrorist attack as the second plane crashes is documented by frightened and concerned babblers.

That fear, the lack of clear information and the horror are all captured in the first hours of the attack in babble’s first 9/11 thread. Many more discussions were to follow, but none documented quite so vividly those first few hours of panic and dread.

The 9/11 attack was just the excuse U.S. president George W. Bush was looking for, to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The president put a case to Congress that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and permission was granted to launch the U.S.-led coalition’s “shock and awe” bombing campaign that resulted in thousands of Iraqi casualties, mostly civilian.

It was a flimsy pretext that babblers saw through immediately, but by the time the lies and obfuscation came to light it was too late. Iraq was plunged into counter-insurgent civil war from which it has yet to fully recover.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina was discussed by babblers as it swept through New Orleans, causing the collapse of levees, massive flooding and the deaths of nearly 2,000 people, many of whom were the poorest residents of the city.

Federal response was widely criticized as wholly inadequate, in particular the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which critics said failed to coordinate a comprehensive relief effort. Federal and state authorities were blamed for the many deaths of stranded flood victims from thirst, starvation and violence and for the chaos that ensued.

In 2008 babblers were discussing the nearly unprecedented global financial crisis and were deeply critical of the Wall Street bailout. Never shy about critiquing the myopic greed of capitalism, babblers were outraged that a financial industry that so wantonly and irresponsibly caused the collapse and the misery, poverty and homelessness that resulted, was being rewarded with a government handout. It’s been 13 years since the collapse and babblers haven’t forgotten.

And finally, in January 2020, babblers and the international community were becoming increasingly alarmed by a new threat — COVID-19, a virulent and often deadly coronavirus that spread from China across the globe, eventually killing hundreds of thousands of people.

In a thread intended to keep folks up to date on COVID news, babblers share their experience and knowledge with the idea that the more we know, the safer we’ll be. From the time the World Health Organization proclaimed it a pandemic (the worst in 100 years) to the rollout of the vaccine, babblers have been discussing, debating and sharing.

We are not yet on the other side of the pandemic, but many babblers have looked to our discussion boards for solidarity, information and some measure of comfort during a history-making global health crisis.

It’s been a remarkable 20 years in human history and it remains to be seen what’s to come in the next 20. For the time-being, babblers continue to discuss the news and events of the day. Whether it’s Palestinian rights, the fight of land defenders against devastating resource extraction or the latest political scandal, babblers will continue to debate, sometimes with great passion, the issues that matter to Canadians. Here’s to another 20 years of babble!

Meg Borthwick has worked in broadcast, print and online media for more than 30 years. She is the moderator of rabble’s online discussion forum, babble.

Image credit: Alexandra_Koch/Pixabay

Meg Borthwick

Meg Borthwick (aka Rebecca West) is a babble moderator and has been a member of since 2001. She has a decorative liberal arts degree in Quoting Chaucer at Dinner Parties (English/Drama double...