The tenth anniversary of 9-11 passed, and again I mourned. I mourned the thousands killed in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington that day, but I mourned for much, much more.
I mourned the thousands of American and allied troops who’ve paid with their lives, fighting not to make America more safe, certainly not more free, but to secure Western hegemony.
I mourned the hundreds of thousands innocent men, women and children who’ve been left homeless and destitute, been tortured, terrified, traumatized, bombed, shot and killed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq since 9-11.
Rational people recoil in horror when shopkeepers on the West Bank hand out sweets after terrorist bombings. And the joy in the camps of Al Queda after every successful bloodletting is equally abhorrent. Yet there were all night kegger parties when Osama Bin Laden was killed. A loud, vile, xenophobic, and implicitly racist joy was voiced by many Americans, and the final irony came to pass: We were acting just like our enemies; an apparently unarmed man was shot dead in his home without benefit of trial or council, and Americans reacted with unmitigated joy, pumping fists and bellowing ‘USA, #1!’ in that fascistic chant that always gives me the creeps.
As a country, we are less tolerant than ever before in my lifetime. Hate crimes against Muslims now comprise 10% of the total every year, yet Muslims account for only a little over 1% of the population.
We are more paranoid, more frightened, more willing to give up the freedom and tolerance that made this country special than we are willing to face down our fears, and our culpability and find a way out of endless war.
All of the things I hated about America, its provincial xenophobia, it’s propensity to shoot first and ask questions later, its role as world policeman (AKA world bully) have been exacerbated by 9-11. Bin Laden and company have remade us in their image. We have lost something irretrievable, something graceful, if we ever had it – a level of tolerance, a love of liberty, a reverence for privacy and individual rights and expression, and courage. Driven towards each other by terror, an American mob-rule group think has arisen. It considers Christians, especially perhaps white Christians, the ‘true’ Americans, and all others as second-rate citizens. It promotes the idea that the projection of unbridled American military might is a natural right of this country, no matter what immoral mayhem it causes to innocents.
Most simplistically and dangerously, this mindset presupposes that we are the victims. There is simply no room for the idea that maybe 9-11 was even partially fomented by our country’s meddling foreign policy, that it was blowback, and that, although it was unjustified, it was inspired directly by the bombings and destruction wrought by us and by our proxies, using our weapons. ‘They hate us for our values’ George Bush and many others proclaimed. No. They hate us because we give the Israelis and various dictators white phosphorus and cluster bombs, F-16 fighters and A-10 warplanes, Abrams tanks and cruise missiles. They hate us because we maintain military bases in their most holy places. They hate us because we have supported one corrupt brutal regime after another in the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa.
The people who died in the air and on the ground on 9-11 were victims, but we as a country are not. We were attacked due to decades of provocation on our part. Bin Laden himself said he was inspired to make the towers fall by watching Israelis bomb apartment buildings with jets and bombs made in America and essentially given to Israel carte blanche. We were attacked because our policies enslave people, because our proxies bomb and torture people, because we are the largest weapons dealer on earth, because we refuse to sign an international land mine treaty, because we pollute more, take more, demand more, than any other country on earth; Because we are an Empire. And like every other empire before us, we are starting to rot within while we are whittled away from without. Bin Laden’s masterstroke was to vastly accelerate this process; He read the braggadocio insecurity of George Bush perfectly and our Mad Cowboy president followed his script to the letter, transmuting the sympathy of the world into disgust and distrust in record time, and that too, was foreseen and even written about by Bin Laden. All he had to do was wave the red flag, and we proceeded headlong to our own goring.
America self-immolated, her freedoms and values burnt for a sense of false security and for vengeance. I mourn this loss most of all.