Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do You Remember 9/11? I Do.



I was a child when a gorgeous Tuesday morning turned into a day of confusion, fear, and anguish. In Mrs. Hassert's English class, the intercom from the front office called me down for an unexpected doctor's appointment. No school? Great!

I walked with a spring in my step down to the office and as I left with my mother, her face turned grimmer than when I first rounded the corner to the front office and she said: "I won't keep you in the dark. The Twin Towers have been destroyed. We're under attack." In the 1990s, my family visited the beautiful Windows on the World restaurant a few times. We still have the complimentary matchboxes.

Instantly, I imagined the people who were up there, and my worldview expanded in a day from Pokemon and yo-yo's to geopolitics. As I listened to George Bush acknowledge the day's tragedy, I was enraptured with the response he promised to deliver to these killers. I was suddenly an ardent kill-em-all war hawk that would make Terry Jones blush. From here I derived a fun motto: "I am a recovered neoconservative. I was in puberty, what's your excuse?"

Until into 2004, I was aggressive, anti-Muslim, and unapologetically pro-Bush. But I am not an idiot. No WMDs were found, and the Iraqi link to 9/11 was debunked (as even George Bush conceded.). Likewise, Afghanistan is living up to its nickname the Graveyard of Empires (British, Soviets, etc.).

As I watched my elder Americans fall for the script rewrite that declared the objective of the wars to be the liberation of the Afghan and Iraqi people, an anti-government sentiment brewed in me and grew more intense with the week.

I regret only that it took until nearly the end of high school to solidify this anti-war position. I wish I could have warned more of my peers about the evils of those in power because I did not and do not want to see anyone from my formative years die for our criminal overlords. But it is happening, and will likely get worse.

I find it deeply disturbing that my peers are choosing to enter the military in such a day and age. Two recent enlistments are college just-graduates who cannot find jobs in their areas of study. Their case is not unique, but is actually a deliberate policy by the criminals in Washington. Known as Military Keynesianism, it is the program of offering the military as an "employer of last resort" during economic downturns. The scum who pursue this despicable strategy then tout the lower unemployment rate.

It's a diverse bunch that are going to fight. Another is a former party girl (well, she probably still parties) who just recently left for Iraq. Another notable classmate is a young man whose father was killed in the Twin Towers. His anger is perfectly justified. For a boy to grow up without his father is something I cannot begin to imagine. He is now a skilled marine sniper.

But our feelings have no bearing on the facts, not even grief. Nine years on, I would tell this young man that the best way to honor his father's memory is to ask and understand why the attack that killed him happened. Warmongers framed the debate in the early years to make it seem that those who questioned aggressive policies were unpatriotic (including conservatives who questioned the dramatic post-9/11 intervention . While shamelessly and successfully unleashed in a traumatized nation, it is typical neoconservative nonsense. Attempting to understand the motives behind actions does not mean those actions are endorsed. Police always investigate the motive of a crime. That does not mean they sympathize with the killing! It's just good detective work.

Osama bin Laden himself told us why he ordered the 9/11 strikes:
Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple: Because you attacked us and continue to attack us...Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands.
When he was ignored, he implored Americans to listen to their own intelligence community, which concluded that bin Laden was not lying to himself or to Americans when he explained his motives. It is impossible to leave an honest examination of the facts and history with a pro-war position because a look at reality shows unambiguously that the blame for this strife falls squarely on the United States government.

Yes, America started it. While the Bush gang (Now Obama gang) decry "blaming America for everything," it doesn't change the fact that many terrible events are the fault of American policies. It shouldn't boggle the mind too much. Our military is all over the world, and thus its actions will have consequences.

Again, the American government started this war. Is it not obvious that before the 1950s, the Muslim world had either friendly or no relations with the US (except for the Barbary Pirates, who were a problem because they were pirates, not because they were Muslims)? What changed this? The CIA coup in Iran in 1953. It is a fact of history that the once arrogant and warmongering British, who were watching their Empire disintegrate in the aftermath of WWII, came whining to the CIA about some kind of communist revolt in Iran when they asserted control over their oil. In response, Operation Ajax overthrew the popular government and installed the tyrannical and hated Shah, ensuring continued western control of the oil supply. Of course, the Iranians are a powerful people, not to be underestimated, and they took their nation back not 30 years later.

The CIA acknowledges and discusses all of this, even on their own website. The aftermath of Operation Ajax was ever-widening US intervention in Muslim and Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, on and on) and unbending support for Israel, which enabled the Zionist regime to make aggressive land grabs [OCTOBER 24, 2013 EDIT] without any real consequences due to the US veto on the UN Security Council.. Deepening parallel to the expanding meddling was Muslim anger seething against the interference. Is this unjustified? How would we react to foreign interference in the United States? What if our nation was occupied (By some army vast enough)? Would we not expect Americans to form militias and build improvised explosive devices? The most patriotic Americans would put the foreign soldiers through daily hell. The longer the occupation lasted, the more angry Americans would get, and with it their capacity for violence would grow. 

Is anyone deluded enough to think the American people have some unique moral buffer that would restrain the viciousness of any response? In the final months of WWII, at least 300,000 Japanese civilians (<read that) were incinerated. Indeed, the March 9-10 Firebombing of Tokyo was deadlier than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The canals boiled. Don't make me laugh and say that Americans would show an ounce of mercy to occupiers in their own backyard. Americans are humans and humans are violent, especially angry humans.

Of course foreign-occupied Americans would become enraged, and their actions would mirror that rage. They would kidnap occupying soldiers. They would torture and murder them on video and release the tapes to terrify all others. Don't deny it, my friend. Insurgency fights not the physical army face-to-face, but attempts a deeper assault on the will of its members. Insurgents who fight occupations seek to terrorize the troops who walk on their land. Therefore, it should not be shocking that Iraqi and Afghan insurgents are terrorizing US troops who walk on their land.

Especially since, lest you forget, America started it. Whether we want it or not, blood is on our hands because our tax dollars paid for every bomb that has hit a wedding and every drone that has ended some bystander's life [AUGUST 4th, 2012 EDIT]

And while the blood of those 3,000 Americans (and others, of course [OCTOBER 24, 2013 EDIT].) who died on that terrible morning is on the Al-Qaeda thugs who murdered them, also to blame are the officeholders and lobbyists who pursued the unnecessary, stupid, and evil policies that made the attack possible in the first place.

So many Americans see 9/11 as some kind of declaration of war that came out of nowhere. This would be news to millions of Middle Easterners whose memories includes 50 years of American intervention. 9/11 was retaliation (that is not to say that Muslims mostly supported the attacks. To the contrary, Muslims in America and all over the world mourned the dead. Originally in Time Magazine, this slideshow presents the reaction of the Iranian public, and this documentary that of the government. Both were stern condemnations.).

[SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2013 EDIT: A relevant video regarding anti-Muslim prejudices in the United States. Kudos to the soldier at the end). 

It may be hard to accept--indeed it seems that some Americans are simply incapable by nature of accepting this truth--but it is historical fact that five decades of American intervention preceded the destruction of the Twin Towers. While the neoconservative speak of spreading democracy, all they really spread is bullcrap to obscure historical truths that cannot be refuted, but can most certainly be ignored to pursue more war. They have been ignored since the 1950s, they were ignored on September 11th, 2001, and they continue to be ignored as the stupidest war in American history --and likely our last-- is in the making.

So yes, remember 9/11, remember the victims. But the most important thing to remember is why. As I sat in confusion and fear watching over and over the images of devastation, I asked,"Why?" like millions of others. The answer should be obvious. The CIA and the 9/11 Commission explained it and Osama answered us as well. Why were we attacked? Because we attack.

And these innocents only died in vain as long as we ensure others will share their fate.
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