these are two pieces that i wrote shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. i agree with them more now than i would have thought possible when i originally wrote them.
I do not approve of the childish behaviour of my government and my countrymen
September 18, 2001
By Bruce Salamandir-Feyrecilde
Here’s a hypothetical situation: We have a nice, modern, suburban neighborhood where few of the neighbors know each other very well. From one of the houses in this neighborhood, a small child goes across the street and gives a neighbor-kid a black eye. In a civilized society such as the one we (supposedly) live in, the neighbor-kid’s father does not normally respond by going back across the street and beating up the perpetrator’s father. Neither does the neighbor-kid’s father declare war on the whole neighborhood.
Almost every single American I’ve heard talking about the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC have been incensed with hatred for the perpetrators of such an attack. There has been much talk of war, or, at the very least, military reprisals against the perpetrators – even though nobody is totally sure who the perpetrators are. There has been a lot of speculation and allegations made concerning who could have done it, but so far no American news source that I know of has come up with any solid proof. The principal suspect has been the well-known terrorist Osama bin Laden, who, along with his mojahedin, was originally financed and trained by the American CIA. Not surprisingly, bin Laden has publically denied any responsibility for the recent attacks.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it was Osama bin Laden. If the United States responds to this terrorist attack by killing Osama bin Laden, the only consequence will be that the hatred of his followers towards America will be enflamed even more than it already is, undoubtedly prompting more attacks. If bin Laden is tried in an American court, he will undoubtedly be found guilty, regardless of the evidence – one can’t have a fair trial in which the judge and jury are also the victim – and if bin Laden is imprisoned by the United States, that, too, will undoubtedly provoke more terrorist attacks from his followers who will then be demanding his release.
For most Americans, the only acceptable option has been to launch military strikes against Afghanistan, which would only succeed in causing more suffering for the hundreds of thousands of already suffering, completely innocent Afghani citizens who want to see Osama bin Laden and the Taliban driven from their country as much as the Americans do. Such attacks will have very little, if any effect at all on the followers of bin Laden and the Taliban.
Any military response from America would be exactly like the father of the kid who got the black eye going back across the street and beating up the perpetrator’s father. It would doubtless make the kid who got the black eye feel better, but it wouldn’t solve any problems – it wouldn’t create a situation where the kids didn’t give each other black eyes, and it would only generate more tension, hatred and mistrust amongst everybody involved.
And none of the American, warlike-rhetoric I’ve heard even comes close to addressing the fact that Osama bin Laden and his mojahedin were originally financed by America. Even if bin Laden was behind the attacks, anything he does comes back to being the fault of the American government who trained and financed him.
America’s freedoms aren’t threatened to the extent that we need to start talking about going to war to defend them. America has a pretty bad reputation in many parts of the world, and there are many people who would be rightly justified to hate America. Until these issues are dealt with, no amount of war will ever solve any problems. Thomas Jefferson said “Those who would give up a little freedom in exchange for peace and security deserve neither freedom nor security.” I can’t think of anywhere in the world I would prefer to live, but at this point, living in the United States scares me quite a bit.
All of these other arguments aside, America claims to be a “christian” country, claims that it’s laws are based on “biblical” truths. Sure, the bible says “an eye for an eye”, but Jesus himself supercedes that proscription (Matthew 5.38 – 40) by saying “You have heard that it is said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you should not resist evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wishes to sue you at the court and take away your shirt, let him have your robe also.” and (Matthew 5.43 – 45) “You have heard that it is said, Be kind to your friend, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless anyone who curses you, do good to anyone who hates you, and pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you, so that you may become sons of your Father who is in heaven, who causes his sun to shine upon the good and the bad, and who pours down his rain upon the just and the unjust.” This is very definitely not the kind of behaviour I have ever seen from my allegedly “christian” countrymen. Now, even more than normally, I would expect people who claim to follow Jesus to be behaving in a much less violent manner than most Americans seem to be now. I fail to see how any military action against Afghanistan, or against Osama bin Laden, or against whatever perpetrator or perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks might even remotely be considered a “blessing”, and I sincerely doubt that such behaviour will do much to help Americans “become perfect, just as [our] Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5.48)
Without question, the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC and elsewhere were tragic, and thousands of innocent people died as a result of these attacks, nothing can change that. However answering terrorism with more terrorism isn’t the solution to the problem. Until Americans in general start taking more responsibility for their actions, and not acting like little children who aren’t getting exactly what they want, I will not support any action taken by the American government in regards to this situation.
War is bad – I would have hoped that there are enough veterans of the conflict in Vietnam, and even from World War II, still alive that would remember how bad war really is. I also think it’s ironic that, for the past few years the American public has been bombarded by the message that gang violence is out of control, and how we should work towards reducing the amount of gang violence that exists in our country, but when something happens like the recent terrorist attacks, America’s first response is to start talking about war. Violence never solved anybody’s problems, I truly don’t understand how Americans can think that violence will be any more effective now than it ever has been.
America, your behaviour is shameful! I am ashamed and embarrassed to be an American!
By Bruce Salamandir-Feyrecilde
While a majority of Americans have been demanding “retribution” for the September 11th terrorist attacks, few Americans have stopped to consider how such retribution would reflect on our country. Obviously America already has a somewhat tarnished reputation (okay, I’m being nice here, honestly, I think America’s behaviour generally has sucked for the past century or so). If this were not the case, the terrorist attacks would never have happened in the first place. On the other hand, America has historically prided itself on its system of justice, and its personal freedoms – both of which are being totally ransacked and tossed out the window by the “retributatory” actions currently being taken.
How is America responding to the terrorist attacks? Is it responding by bringing the perpetrators to justice? No, America is responding to those who would terrorize it by terrorizing back. Instead of openly investigating the perpetrators, America is responding with cruise missiles. Instead of bringing Osama bin Laden before the world court, America is responding by sending terrorists into Afghanistan with the specific purpose of creating chaos and assasinating people. The “cowards”, some of whom were brave enough to stay in the airplane as it crashed into the World Trade Center are having “smart bombs” dropped on them by “heroes” who are far enough away that no retaliatory action taken could possibly have any effect on them. HOW “JUST” IS THAT???? Especially when our “smart bombs” have succeeded in wiping out, among other things, a hospital, residential neighborhoods, and a U.N. work crew who were clearing landmines?
How is America responding to the terrorist attacks? Is it examining the rationale behind the terrorist attacks and accepting all valid arguments? No, America is responding to those who disagree by discussing further restrictions on personal freedoms. Instead of listening to the reasons why those who hate America do so, America has essentially declared a “war on dissent”. By discussing the criminalization of “domestic terrorism”, and by drafting laws allowing “sneek and peek” warrants, and “forum shopping”, America has not only further trashed personal freedoms, but has taken a big step towards becoming a police state itself. It would be ironic if America, in the process of “defending democracy” became a police state, but, sadly, I get the very strong impression that that is exactly what is going to happen.
The terrorists themselves are likely very intelligent, although misguided people. They are clearly aware that terrorist actions are not going to be very successful at accomplishing their stated goals. However there are goals which they hope to accomplish through terrorism which they have not been so clear about, and they are accomplishing those goals with flying colours.
A lot of violent behaviour comes from a desire in the one perpetrating the violence to prove their superiority over their victim. The terrorists said they attacked the United States to try to change the political situation in Israel and Palestine, and to try to get U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia, but that was only one of their goals. Another of their goals, one which has not been so publically aired, is to prove the superiority of their version of Islam, or the superiority of their political views over those of America. They attacked America, with the specific purpose of saying “Look how stupid and insignificant America is – instead of responding like civilized human beings, they’re going to start a war with us because of this.” And, ideologically, there is no possibility that terrorists would lose such a war, because, ideologically, the terrorists thought they were justified in their attack… ideologically, they think America is not justified in its response. No “smart bomb” America can drop has the capability to change their minds, and the more bombs America drops, the more valiantly heroic the terrorists become in their own minds. The only way America could win this war would be to respond not with military force, but with ideology – with thought, consideration and reason. Something of which America is apparently incapable.
Every news story about difficulties with airline travel because of beefed up security in American airports is a victory for the terrorists. Commercial airlines in America have had some of the most lax security measures in the whole world for many years. Israeli airports have much more stringent security measures in place, and they are taken as an inevitable fact of airline travel. Many commercial airlines outside the United States make a point of separating the pilots from the passenger cabin with a bullet-proof door that can be locked from inside the cockpit – thus making the possibility of a hijacker overpowering the pilots practically non-existent. But “America the free” has been deluded to believe that average people are going to act responsibly and not hijack airplanes. If average people were really that willing to take responsibility for their actions, we wouldn’t need approximately half of the criminal laws currently on the books. We keep those laws on the books because of people who we know aren’t going to act responsibly, so why do we not protect airplane pilots and their passengers from potential hijackers? Answer: because Americans are STUPID!! – Which is EXACTLY what the terrorists have been wanting to prove to everyone! Victory for the terrorists.
Every news story about anthrax is another victory for the terrorists. Americans are so terrified of anthrax these days that it seems like nothing is safe. Most of the news stories so far have been about “concerns” or hoaxes. Practically no-one has paid any attention to the fact that anthrax is not particularly effective as a weapon, or the fact that, if it is distributed through the mail, it can be neutralised with a common, everyday steam iron (heat and moisture kill anthrax spores). To date only FIVE people have died from anthrax!! How many people in America have died from malnourishment, or gang violence, or drug overdoses, or automobile accidents in the past month? How many people in America have died in prison violence due to overcrowding in the past month? How many innocent American citizens have died in military “accidents” in the past month? The Taliban claims it shot down a U.S. helicopter, although the U.S. military is denying any such event. Strangely enough, the U.S. military is acknowledging that a U.S. helicopter crashed in an “accident” and that the crew of 5 were killed, and the Taliban has been exhibiting the wreckage of what appears to be a helicopter, but Americans haven’t heard anything about that. Why? Answer: it is the American media’s job to keep Americans STUPID… and they’ve been doing an amazingly good job of it! – Which is EXACTLY what the terrorists have been wanting to prove to everyone! Victory for the terrorists.
Recently I have made the mistake of expressing negative opinions about America’s “war on terrorism” in public places on internet. The general response has been that my audiences have wished the terrorists would kill me. Honestly, at this point, I hope they do, because, even if they don’t, there’s a good chance that some “patriotic” American will do it, and I truly do not enjoy living in a world which is full of people who don’t know how to think! If idiots are going to decide what happens to the rest of us, I would rather be somewhere else anyway! As far as I can tell, as long as America continues on the path that it is currently following, things are only going to get worse. I don’t know how much you would enjoy living in a post-nuclear apocalypse, but my personal opinion is that I hope I don’t have to…