My not-so-popular views RE: September 11
"Those who give up a little freedom for a little security will soon find themselves with neither" - Benjamin Franklin
I understand where everyone is coming from. I feel for those who saw their loved ones perish, and I feel for those families who watched their brave sons give their lives so that others might live. The FDNY and the NYPD are true heroes in my mind. They paid the ultimate price so that others might suffer less, so that others might have another chance at life. In doing their jobs, they made the ultimate sacrifice. For this, I salute them. Their valor has made a permanent impression on my heart.
That being said, I think the September 11 hysteria is absolutely sickening. Last year I was like anyone else - if you told me that Osama bin Laden was responsible and that I'd have the chance to kill him, I'd have done it in a heartbeat. I have family in the New York/New Jersey area, and my uncle got another job and moved out of the World Trade Center just a few months before 9/11. Had he stayed, he would have died. I thank the stars for this blessing to my family. I would have made him suffer for making me worry, for attacking America and freedom and everything that democracy stands for.
But I can't declare my support for governmental policies any longer. The more I read, the more I familiarize myself with the background of American foreign policy, the less I support governmental policies. Every time I watch a news program talk about September 11, they paint this picture of a terrorist who is heartless, someone who kills innocent people and is under the control of an oppressive regime that denies people their fundamental human rights. Instead of getting to the heart of what was really going on on September 11, they instead get defensive when people try to attack America. People who don't agree with the Bush Administration's boneheaded policies are called unpatriotic and hauled in for questioning.
The fact is, we've been messing with the Middle East far longer and far worse than they've ever done to us. We've installed puppet governments, backed coup attempts, probably had secret assassinations of major governmental leaders. We've denied them their religion. We've occupied their countries, in the name of democracy. Despite this lofty ideal to which we hold ourselves, we somehow neglect to give the people of the country a say. We step in, act all benevolent, and expect people to love us for it. When our troops brutalize and murder innocent civilians, these incidents are brushed off as 'accidents' and swept beneath the rug.
It's no surprise that people are mad at us. All around the world, we've been intervening with our noses in the air, acting superior and acting as if people could only be saved by the great United States of America. We could care less about how their population is doing - all of that, apparently, is subordinate to political gains. We intervene where we're not wanted. We take sides. We interfere in purely national affairs, the people be damned. We cause much more suffering than we are told of. When we bombed a school and a village in Kosovo, it was an 'accident'. It's strange that we've had so many 'accidents' with our supposedly high-tech precision weapons. The story of Somalia - we were repeatedly told that we were not wanted. We managed to piss off one of the factions, and when they beat us we came back with our tails between our legs, talking about how Somalia was a repressive regime, etc etc. The story of Bosnia - our supposed peacekeepers turn violent against innocent men and women, beating them in public with fists or with the butts of their guns, terrorizing the populace with our modern weapons, and destroying village life. One soldier crushed a little kid's snowball because he didn't like snowballs. Another beat a man because he didn't submit to a search fast enough. What kind of peacekeeping is this? What kind of freedom is this?
On the home front, we've been subjected to continual invasions of our civil liberties. Those who question the government's policies are declared unpatriotic and hauled in for questioning and thrown into jail, despite there being absolutely no charge levied against them. And this is freedom of speech. Persons of Middle Eastern origin are being put into jail with no charge levied against them. They're getting their phone lines tapped, they're being watched by the FBI, and they're repeatedly harassed. And this is freedom. The government uses this opportunity to pass the Patriot Bill, which makes us all slaves to the state. They can do anything they want. Bush declares a war on terrorism, and uses it as an excuse to deny millions their right to a speedy trial, a lawyer, and to not be jailed without formal charge being levied. They're being jailed indefinitely. And this is justice.
George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld call for pre-emptive strikes on the axis of evil, especially Iraq. In the same breath, they condemn the aggressive, violent tendencies of the 9/11 terrorists and their brethren. One must ask - is an unprovoked attack on another nation not aggressive? Is it not violent? We might all agree that Saddam has to go. But how can we justify it and still call ourselves peace-loving? How can we condemn the aggressive acts of others while simultaneously committing our own?
The War on Terrorism will never end. It will inevitably strip us all of our civil liberties. We've already taken the first step on this slippery slope with the passage of all these 9/11 bills, the most heinous of which is the Patriot Bill. Such a loaded name. There will always be those who hate America and what it stands for. That is no excuse to abandon the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. A Constitution that is only enforced when it suits the interests of those in power, is a Constitution that has failed in its purpose. If we're not careful, this could be the beginning of the end. No joke.
On 9/11, I will remember those whose valor and courage allowed others to live. I will remember their sacrifice. I will remember those innocents who died when the airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers. I will be thankful that my uncle was not among those who lost their lives. But I will also remember all of those whom we have brutalized. I will remember those who have suffered so much at the hands of western democracies. I may not agree with their system of government, nor their actions. But I will remember their suffering. All of you 'patriots' can wax about how Osama is the devil, how he must go and how we have been done a great wrong. If it makes me unpatriotic to speak the truth-- if it makes me a terrorist sympathizer to expose the reality of United States Foreign Policy, then so be it. I love our country, I love the ideals of democracy and all that America fundamentally stands for - but that doesn't mean I support our government's actions.
Fuck American foreign policy. If this is what the bastion of freedom and democracy does to other countries, if brutalization followed by propaganda and half-truths is all the American government is capable of, then I'm not proud at all to call myself American.