For the past several days, as I watched from afar the many 9/11 commemories on TV: various documentaries about the events leading up to 9/11, the news reports on BBC and local coverage, I felt for my country. I felt sad first for the families of those killed. The sudden brutality of their loved one’s deaths affected me deeply. I felt their tragedy was never properly addressed as that horrendous mass murder (and murder it was and should have been prosecuted as such) became the cynical justification for two disastrous wars and tens of thousands of deaths with unimaginable destruction. Then I felt sad for America’s isolation, for what else could explain the media’s singular focus upon that terrible event divorced from context or history? And then, I felt my sadness giving way to frustration and at times anger.
Everywhere I looked, I saw not just the honest outpourings of sympathy for the deaths of fellow countrymen and women, but a remarkable amount of ignorant self-absorption, mainly from the news analyses [sic], which gave voice to the unforgettable images. No context was given, no appraisal of why Americans are now regarded with disdain everywhere I travel. What created this now pandemic proportion of American indifference? All over the world terrible crises are calling out for recognition, which might put things into a proper perspective.
Right now in Gaza, which, in a truly just world would be freed because of multinational forces forcing the Israelis out (something we insist only be done against Muslim regimes), children go hungry, their parents practically digging through dung heaps of Job-like proportions merely to stay alive. Gaza is now the world’s largest prison, overseen by racist wardens, supported by American tax dollars.
On the West Bank, millions live disconnected and dispossessed from their own lands and homes, while Israeli Bantustans are continually being carved (in an eerily replicated version of apartheid South Africa, Israel’s once dear ally) imprisoning them all in enclaves of hopelessness.
In Iraq, long–simmering ethnic tensions are fueled by an illegal invasion and occupation costing Iraqi’s tens of thousands of lives and rising daily. Tens of thousands. And this, after years of crippling sanctions killed half a million children in the name of American “containment” of Saddam Hussein. This is the same Hussein whose former paymasters, now in the White House, self-righteously bang the drum of indignation at the suddenly cynical discovery of his brutal nature.
The American empire now ominously surrounds Russia, is ready to invade Iran and has deposed the medieval Taliban in Afghanistan while increasingly up pop the poppy growers who provide for that other addiction of the West. Torture, rape, civilian massacres, Falluja, Abu Ghraib, “You are either with us or against us,” lines drawn, threats everywhere. Throughout the Islamic world, America’s political and global machine is grinding into dust the hopes and aspirations of tens of millions, while it props up dictators and acts with impunity in its nervous, deadly and hyper addictive pursuit of oil. It is a strategy doomed to create resentment at Americans for years to come.
What madness have we all succumbed to? What manic drive for self-imposed blindness pushes us to deny the vast suffering our government’s policies are creating, bludgeoning our way through the results (“terrorism”) while ignoring the all causes (Palestinian occupation, imperial invasions, racism, poverty, support for dictators. etc.)? Only the American people can put an end to this madness, ending support for endless wars, demanding immediate justice for Palestinians and beginning to reassess our present role in the world. The upcoming elections are an important place to start.
It is time we became part of the whole world, accepting the honest demands of good people everywhere: to live in peace, to manage their own resources and to no longer be hapless subjects in a grand chess game they didn’t choose and don’t wish to play.
Before more are killed and the last light of our once fabled torch of hopefulness for the world goes out, on this terrible anniversary, let us choose another way. Before it’s too late.
Rev. José M. Tirado
is a poet, writer and Green activist. He is also a Shin Buddhist
priest teaching in Iceland. His articles have appeared in
CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Swans Commentary,
The Magazine of Green Social Thought: Synthesis/Regeneration and
Gurdjieff Internet Guide. He can be reached via his website:
Other Articles by José M. Tirado
There Is No
Longer Any Room For Doubt (An Open Letter To Americans)