The message that I sent out to my newsletter list on Tuesday, Sept. 11, regarding the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, resulted in a wide range of responses.
For the vast majority of readers, my message put into words what they were already thinking or, at least, offered another way to view the events without the jingoistic demands for blood vengeance that seems to be the only response our feeble minded "leaders" are ever capable of.
For a few, though, the very act of looking for causes was to be attacked and demeaned. To some, the very suggestion that we might be, in some small way, responsible for the hatred that precipitated the attacks borders on treason. For too many, the only answer they can conceive of is more death of innocents and more eye for an eye "diplomacy".
I will offer some of the thoughts that were sent to me. I will not, for many obvious reasons, use anyone's names or e-mail addresses, mostly because of my deeply held beliefs in the absolute need for personal privacy.
One fellow, who demeaned the idea of approaching this horror with thought and a historical perspective as "too much non violence", went on to demand that we use "Fuel-air bombs, Cluster bombs, and napalm among others liberally dumped on Kabul and the other towns of Afghanistan until they are reduced to ruble [sic] and covered with salt so that nothing will ever grow there again...". He demands that we ignore "legal investigations" since doing so hasn't stopped the violence.
Now, folks, I can see that this fellow is full of rage at the horrors that took place yesterday. Many Americans obviously agree with his views that the answer to violence against the innocents in our nation is to inflict even greater violence against the innocent civilians in some other nation. I submit, though, that the thousands of years of war and murders and violence that have already blackened the history of the Middle East should show anyone that the idiocy of an eye for eye only leaves you as blind as your enemy.
The problem with this type of foreign policy through death and intimidation is that we, as a nation, provide a magnificent target while those who wish to inflict such misery on us number in the hundreds and are offered solace and concealment by the many nations that our government has thoughtlessly injured in the past. To murder entire cities full of innocent people is evil no matter what your patriotic fervor may command.
The reality is this, gentle readers. In order to insure that we Americans can continue to engorge ourselves on cheap and plentiful gas, we happily accept the idea that the result of the sanctions against Iraq is the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children every single day. As anyone who looks at the results of those sanctions can obviously see, the leaders of Iraq continue to build their palaces and drive their Rolls Royce limousines. The only ones harmed by the sanctions are the most defenseless, as is always the case.
Our sick thirst for more and more oil results in your government causing more and more misery for the citizens of nearly every nation in the Middle East. This is the breeding grounds for the terrorists who caused such misery yesterday.
Iraqis suffer and die needlessly because your government thinks that lifting the sanctions is somehow "losing face" even while we force Iraq to sell, to the United States, oil at far below market prices.
The citizens of Saudi Arabia live under the thumb of inbred rulers who only came to power because they fought on the right side in WW II. These citizens cannot speak out on any political topic nor may they have any say in the people who rule their nation. Any attempt to dissent from the norm is met with torture and imprisonment backed up with military equipment happily provided by the war industry in America.
Iran is ruled by Tenth Century religious maniacs who came to power solely because they weren't us. The Shah that we had so long supported inflicted a hell upon his people that continues to this day. Instead of deriving power through the gun and the torture rack as the Shah did, the Mullahs enforce their brand of religious hatred and total control using the time worn methods of claiming that God is on their side and that the torture and murder are His wishes.
The only reason that anyone in the Middle East has any power or can acquire any means of inflicting destruction on Americans is OIL. Let me repeat that for the Republicans out there - OIL is the reason that we are so desperately hated by the peoples of those nations. We continue to happily damage them in order that we never have to face up to our national stupidity in our insane demand for a wasteful, polluting, poisonous fuel for our over-priced, dangerous, gas guzzling, station wagons.
Folks, with the cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center, we could easily create clean, completely pollution-free, cheap vehicles to take us from point A to point B. For just a few billions dollars in tax credits and incentives, the long ignored "Yankee Know-How" could create transportation that would never need even a drop of the oil from the Middle East or Alaska or anywhere else. For just a few billion dollars, massive new companies will be formed that will employ hundreds of thousands of Americans that will build these vehicles and all the ancillary industries to support them.
The World Trade Center attacks were, at their very base, caused by our refusal to evolve from the oil based Neanderthals we are and into the next phase of our evolution where we begin to solve the problems of our planet through intelligent and careful thought rather than with "Fuel-air bombs, Cluster bombs, and napalm". Violence is the agency of the unthinking. Neither faction can ever move forward when their only response is to create even more misery and death. Violence is a vicious circle and I, for one, would like to believe that the American people can grow beyond that corrupt mentality.
The other complaints that I heard can be summed up by saying that my message was ill-timed and that we shouldn't talk about the causes until some undetermined time has passed. These folks said that we need time to grieve and to bury the dead and to heal the wounded. Their belief seems to be that a discussion of the causes of these horrific events should be put off until some future milestone is reached.
To that I can only ask, if we are to wait, when are we going to begin again? Should we wait until the rubble is removed, but just before the funerals? Maybe we should wait until after the funerals but just before we start the indiscriminate bombing that our government is rightly so famous for? Should we wait until our military has killed a few hundred thousand more innocent human beings before we start to ask the important questions? Just when the hell is the "right" time to begin to ask ourselves how the world has turned so horribly black and evil?
How many of you remember what state Littleton High School is in? How many of you remember the names of the two boys who murdered so many that day? How many remember the number of teachers that were killed? How many students were killed or wounded? Where they obtained their weapons? Have we waited long enough to talk about the glaringly obvious lessons that we should have learned from that horror?
How about the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City? Sure, you remember Timothy McVeigh, but do you remember the name(s) of his accomplices? Do you remember the T-Shirt that McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested and who produced it? Do you remember his statements that he learned of the evils of our government from such vile little creatures as Limbaugh and Liddy? Isn't it about time we started thinking about the lessons that this event should have taught us?
How about the hundreds of Marines who died in Beirut, Lebanon? Do you even remember that event? Do you remember who was President? Do you remember why they were there at all? Can you even find Lebanon on a map? Have we come away from that terrorist attack any wiser or any more thoughtful about our place in the world?
The fact of the matter is that the American people have an amazingly short attention span. If we do not engage those minds immediately, then we lose any opportunities to bring them into the debate. Without the American people's attention, how are we to discern what we must learn and how we must behave in the future if we do not want to endlessly repeat the same terrors over and over.
Now is exactly the time to demand that our media cease reporting only what the media's owners want reported. Now is the time to begin informing the American people of the causes and the results of our actions both on a national scale and a personal level. Now is the time for these disturbing realities to move out of the arena of the alternative media, the only media that will honestly speak to these issues, and force them into the nightly news and the morning's newspapers. If we ignore this opportunity to finally quit living the dream that the media has lulled America into, then we deserve the nightmares both now and into the future. Ignorance is never an excuse, but it makes a terribly fertile ground for terror.
To those who say that the time is not right to talk about matters so important to the future of our species, I can only reply thus; "If not now, when? If not me, who?"
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