Yesterday I posted two photos which prove the lie of the Bush Administration's meme that the events yesterday were non-political. While the two Democratic Senators from New York were not invited to participate in Bush's charade in Manhattan, the two Republican Senators from Pennsylvania were invited to view the show in Shanksville. Republican Governor of New York was asked to participate, while the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania was not.
I received a comment from a reader, Farmer Mark. who wrote that he
found most of public commemorations to be inadequate ways to deal with the memorializing and processing functions necessary to such a recent, raw event and think someone should try to come up with a ritual that is appropriate, meaningful and unique to this occasion.
I happen to know that he personally was directly, seriously harmed by 9/11. I totally agree that the pompous rites engaged in by our political leaders were pathetic, even cynical, but what else can be expected from such "leadership?" Just as they used 9/11 as an excuse to act on their long held desire to invade Iraq, they once again tried to use yesterday to sell their misbegotten war.
On September 12 of 2001, I was still in shock, and very worried about the people that I loved in New York. I felt some first twinges of optimism in seeing initial reactions around the world. True, some residents of the occupied Palestinian territories were dancing in the street. But the Arab world was hugely united in condemning the terrorism, and especially unanimous when it came to the civilian casualties.
France's Le Monde ran the famous headline "Nous sommes tous Americains." Iran, for the first time in 22 years, was not saying "Death to America." A few days after 9/11, there was a moment of silence to honor our innocent dead in an international soccer game being played in Tehran. Newspapers throughout the country condemned the attacks, as they did throughout the Muslim world. Indonesia, like Jordan, froze bank accounts of those suspected of working with Al Qaeda. I could go on and on. The amount of goodwill Bush squandered is stupefying.
There was quite a small group of Muslims who did applaud the attacks - but the vast majority of this minority did so on the basis of our government's behavior. Primarily they condemned our having a military base in Saudi Arabia (the holiest of their lands) and of our support for Israel. There were other reasons, but virtually no one supported the attacks because of our "lifestyle"- our acceptance of homosexuality, our treatment of women - or our freedom. It is only washed up wing-nuts like D'Souza, Hitchens, Falwell and Bush who speak such nonsense. The Arab world was amazingly unanimous in condemning the loss of civilian life: whatever the gender, race, religion or sexual identity of that life.
In looking at international reactions to the tragedy of 9/11, I came across a prescient response to Bush's speech of 9/20/2001. In that speech, Bush stated that "we will use every necessary weapon of war," that "Americans should... expect ... a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen," and he told "every nation" that "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."
Parts of the response:
An objective and calm friend should advise the United States government against throwing the young American soldiers into an uncertain war in remote, isolated and inaccessible places, like a fight against ghosts, not knowing where they are or even if they exist or not, or whether the people they kill are or not responsible for the death of their innocent fellow countrymen killed in the United States.
After the shock and sincere sorrow felt by every people on Earth for the atrocious and insane terrorist attack that targeted the American people, the most extremist ideologists and the most belligerent hawks, already set in privileged power positions, have taken command of the most powerful country in the world whose military and technological capabilities would seem infinite. Actually, its capacity to destroy and kill is enormous while its inclination towards equanimity, serenity, thoughtfulness and restraint is minimal.
These were parts of a speech given in Havana by President Fidel Castro on September 22 ,2001.
If only we could expect a fraction of such wisdom from our own "leadership."