Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 - Sense and Sentimentality

If love is blind, patriotism has lost all five senses.

-----William Blum, Rogue State - A Guide to the World's Only Superpower

The annual commemorations of 911 highlight the blinding sentimentality that has long characterized the way Americans are encouraged to view the world. The idea that the 911 attacks came utterly out of the blue, masterminded by demonic cave-dwellers filled with hatred for "the very idea of America itself," as President Obama puts it, is too crude a fairy tale to even serve as an adequate bedtime story for toddlers. Yet, our increasingly clueless political leaders sincerely believe in such nonsense, and expect us to as well.

Facts are few and far between in this narrative. In the first place, the World Trade Center had already been attacked in 1993. That same year Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani, shot five people outside C.I.A. headquarters and told the F.B.I. that he had done it to protest U.S. policies towards Muslims in the Middle East, including the U.S.'s bombing of Iraq. Two days after Kansi's conviction in 1997, four Americans were shot and killed while driving in a car in Karachi, Pakistan. "I think the linkage is quite explicit," said an ex-counter-terrorism expert about the murders. The bombing of the two American embassies in Africa in 1998 took place on the eighth anniversary of the arrival of the first U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. And during the massive U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991 there were dozens of terrorist attacks against U.S. institutions throughout the Middle East and even beyond. Finally, Washington's blind support for Israel's 53-year onslaught against the Palestinian people was widely loathed among Arabs and Muslims everywhere.

Furthermore, intelligence services around the world were well aware that something dreadful was coming out of the sky - and soon - in the months leading up to the attacks. Given these realities, the idea that the attacks were (1) a surprise, and (2) motivated by pure hatred for American freedom, is patently ridiculous.

There is nothing wrong in grieving for those whose lives were tragically and cruelly cut short by the attacks, nor in admiring the sense of collective purpose that took hold throughout the U.S. in the days immediately following 911. However, resistance is called for when these perfectly legitimate expressions of human feeling are perverted into a justification to slaughter innocents in Central Asia and the Middle East, as has been done relentlessly by the U.S. government for the past nine years. This resistance is nowhere to be seen on the American political landscape today, an absence that does not bode well for the future.

It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the 911 attacks to passively acquiesce in the crimes of state that make further such attacks nearly inevitable.

Furthermore, demonizing Islam, or "Muslim extremists," or even simply al Qaeda, will not help us understand our relationship to the Muslim world. And without understanding, there is no hope of effective change, let alone peace.

We ought to keep in mind that people willing to die in an attempt to kill us are formidable adversaries who cannot simply be dismissed as "a sorry band of men which perverts religion," to use President Obama's description of al-Qaeda. Sorry is in the eye of the beholder, and what looks to us like corruption and evil looks to many victims of U.S. policy like a long overdue come-uppance. We ignore this at our peril.

Patting ourselves on the back for our traditions of "free speech," which let tea party activists parade in public with signs expressing understandable contempt for phony Democratic Party "tolerance," will likewise lead us only to further sorrow. In reality, Democratic administrations regularly jettison free speech when it conflicts with war-making, with a vast cast of victims too numerous to mention here. In any event, as Americans our problem is not a failure to fight our enemies with uncompromising hostility, but rather, a failure to fight the wealthy minority that carries out vast killing operations in our name, earning us enemies we needn't ever have had. Until we face this squarely, our commemorations of 911 will be but preludes to further disaster.

Commentary about building an Islamic center near the site of the destroyed Twin Towers, and a deranged pastor's threats to burn a Koran, are painfully obvious attempts to distract us from the ruling minority's wholesale contempt for the American people, dramatically evidenced by the trillions of dollars in money and credit advanced to the fraudsters that crashed the economy in 2008. Two years later, with no recovery in sight, the American people are told they must pay back the money that has been stolen from them, even if it costs them their homes, their jobs, their savings, their pensions, and every last shred of human dignity. The massive cuts in social services required to indulge this madness are an under-appreciated form of terrorism we ought to pay a lot more attention to.


"On 9/11, commemorations accompanied by focus on Islam, Washington Post, September 11, 2010

"Obama: 9/11 Victims Endure In Our Nation's Heart,"

Blum, William, Rogue State - A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, (Common Courage, 2000)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! Great piece which speaks the truth (so hard to find these days). I will be sharing your blog with others. Please keep writing!