Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years after

For ages since Since September 11, 2001, I've published a September 11th tribute intended to illustrate several other 9/11s that have occurred over the last century and a half. Perhaps I might recycle a version of that in a little while if I find myself in the mood to do so.

For now I'd like to do something a little different. About ten years ago, just after the Twin Towers fell, a friend of mine on a message board made a comment that the chickens had come home to roost. I know I was pretty hacked off at him for making that comment at the time - more because it was just too soon than for the content itself. Later I'd learn that others, such as Ward Churchill, had written similar sorts of statements in the days that followed the attacks. While the message offered up by these various individuals - including my friend - was one that was not pleasant to read or hear, it was a message that needed to be read and heard.

Anyone who has read me for any length of time has already sussed out that I am no friend to religious extremists of any stripe. I have nothing pleasant to say about the likes of the late Osama bin Laden. However, what is clear to me is that - to the extent that Osama had any responsibility for the carnage caused a decade ago - Osama was very clear on his reasoning for wanting an attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. In his case it had to do with a US military presence in Saudi Arabia. Others have discussed the symbolism of the Twin Towers as representing the negative influence of American-based multi-national corporate conglomerates on the Global South. Some sort of blowback was arguably inevitable.

One of my motivations early on was to try to understand what would motivate such an attack. Note that there is a difference between trying to explain a terrorist attack and excusing one. Certainly, there is nothing redeeming from my perspective for any attack that results in the deaths of civilians. But what is critical is to understand why someone would consider massive attacks resulting in nearly 3000 deaths as acceptable. One conclusion that I have drawn is one I will paraphrase from Ward Churchill: if you want to be safe from terrorism, stop bombing other nations, stop killing the children of other nations, stop enabling the impoverishment and starvation of people in other nations. It's a truism that violence begets violence. It may be far to much to expect of our current government and its corporate sponsors that it cease the violence inflicted on others - be that violence military or economic. At bare minimum we do have a responsibility to understand the nature of that violence, and the extent to which our own hands are dirty. Ten years ago, the chickens came home to roost, and they will continue to come home to roost until something significant changes.