The False Mantra of 9/11

As I watched the events of the Boston Marathon bombing unfold, I was reminded of something we all said following the tragedy of 9/11:

Nothing justifies the killing of innocent people.

That phrase is acknowledged as a universal human principle. When spoken by the people of the United States, however, it is more than a bit disingenuous. An accurate version for US voices might be the following:

Nothing justifies the killing of innocent people, except

I’m sure you can think of other exceptions which could be added to this list. If none immediately come to mind, please ponder these three basic justifications for America’s murders:

  • The dead were not “innocent”, or
  • The dead were not “people”, or
  • We didn’t kill them (someone else did, they killed themselves, or they were killed by a concept or an institution).

Our past and present crimes in no way justify anyone’s attacks on America. And I agree that our leaders should not give in to the demands of terrorists. But there are two things which have yet to be tried as strategies in our on-going war against terror: telling the truth, and practicing what we preach.

I suggest we open a new phase in the war against terror by doing the following:

  • Stop using food as a weapon,
  • Stop threatening sovereign nations,
  • Stop supporting dictators and oppressive regimes,
  • Scrupulously follow all domestic and international laws,
  • Arrest and prosecute America’s torturers and war criminals, and
  • Start acting as if we really believe that “nothing justifies the killing of innocent people”.

Or we could continue militarizing our police, installing more spy cameras, violating more civil liberties, and torturing or force feeding more detainees in the vain hope that the rest of the world will once again acknowledge our fundamental goodness.

Which would you prefer?

Howard Uhal is a Vietnam era veteran of the US Army and a former nuclear submarine officer. He has held various positions in the nuclear and environmental industries and has degrees in Geology and Environmental Systems Engineering. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Howard, or visit Howard's website.