National Park Service photo from September 11, 2001
Whew. Another 9/11 anniversary has come and gone.
I wasn’t going to write about 9/11, although I have plenty that I could say about it. I could relate my memories of that uber-memorable day; I worked at one of Sacramento’s tallest office buildings at the time, and I remember the local and national hysteria on that and the many following days.
Most of all, what 9/11 means to me is the hysteria that followed, the belligerent jingoism that I found to be unsettling to frightening, and how the unelected Bush regime — although, we would find out in 2004, “President” Bush had received an August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” — milked 9/11 until the cow ran dry. Indeed, 9/11 served the Bush regime, like the Reichstag fire served the Third Reich, all the way to “re”-election in 2004. (The Democrats would retake Congress two years later and it’s been downhill for the Repugnicans ever since.)
I wasn’t going to write about the 9/11 anniversary at all this year until I just read a Reuters news article on how there has been opposition to including, in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, scheduled to open by 2013, information on the 19 9/11 hijackers.
Apparently, originally the museum was going to display videos that 9/11 hijackers had made before the attacks to explain their motives, but this was too controversial, and so the exhibit on the hijackers will be limited to photos and written texts.
Americans don’t want to even be exposed to the other side of the story when it comes to American history.
All that Americans want to hear about Christopher Columbus, for instance, is that he “discovered” the “New” World. They don’t want to hear the part where, among other things, he enslaved natives as part of his quest for riches for the Spanish crown, and he helped to open up the “New” World to later white European exploitation, which would include, of course, the decimation of the native peoples of the entire continent and the enslavement of Africans.
Similarly, the Thanksgiving myth of the pilgrims and the natives enjoying a feast together glosses over the actual history of the genocide of the natives by the white colonizers.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Tomorrow’s American history is being made today, and if head-in-the-sand Americans have their way, the myth of 9/11 will be that the United States of America was attacked by “freedom-hating terrorists” on September 11, 2001 — the “terrorists” hated “freedom” so much that they decided to take out, in a suicide mission, the World Trade Center, the center of the capitalistic exploitation of the peoples of the world — oops, my bad; of course the WTC was the planetary center of freedom. We’re good, they’re bad, they attacked us because they’re evil, freedom-hating animals and we’re freed0m-lovin’ angels, God’s chosen, even. End of story. That is the 9/11 myth in a nutshell.
Listening to the hijackers give their reasons for their suicide mission doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they have to say. It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they did. But you won’t know the whole story of 9/11 until you do listen to what they had to say about what they did.
Wikipedia, in its entry “September 11 attacks,” has a section titled “Motive.” Here the section is:
All of the fatwas [Islamic edicts] before September 11, 2001 from Osama Bin Laden have a consistent theme: U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia. In 1998 Bin Laden said in a fatwa: “For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”
The attacks were consistent with the overall mission statement of al-Qaeda, as set out in a 1998 fatwa issued by Osama bin Laden, [et. al.]. This statement begins by quoting the Koran as saying, “slay the pagans wherever ye find them” and extrapolates this to conclude that it is the “duty of every Muslim” to “kill Americans anywhere.”
Bin Laden elaborated on this theme in his “Letter to America” of October 2002: “You are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind: You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its constitution and laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms absolute authority to the Lord and your Creator.”
[I have to interject here and note that it is American wingnuts who also believe that U.S. law should be based upon woefully outdated religious texts. Theocracy is bad unless it’s “Christian” theocracy, you see.]
Many of the eventual findings of the 9/11 Commission with respect to motives have been supported by other experts. Counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke explains in his 2004 book Against All Enemies that U.S. foreign policy decisions, including “confronting Moscow in Afghanistan, inserting the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf,” and “strengthening Israel as a base for a southern flank against the Soviets” contributed to al-Qaeda’s motives.
Others, such as Jason Burke, foreign correspondent for The Observer, focus on a more political aspect to the motive, stating that “bin Laden is an activist with a very clear sense of what he wants and how he hopes to achieve it. Those means may be far outside the norms of political activity […] but his agenda is a basically political one.”
A variety of scholarship has also focused on bin Laden’s overall strategy as a motive for the attacks. For instance, correspondent Peter Bergen argues that the attacks were part of a plan to cause the United States to increase its military and cultural presence in the Middle East, thereby forcing Muslims to confront the “evils” of a non-Muslim government and establish conservative Islamic governments in the region.
Michael Scott Doran, correspondent for Foreign Affairs, further emphasizes the “mythic” use of the term “spectacular” in bin Laden’s response to the attacks, explaining that he was attempting to provoke a visceral reaction in the Middle East and ensure that Muslim citizens would react as violently as possible to an increase in U.S. involvement in their region.
So it seems to be much more complicated than the overly simplistic “They hate us for our freedom.” U.S. meddling in the Middle East — in Muslim holy land — including, of course, the U.S. government’s support of Israel, the No. 1 recipient of U.S. foreign aid, seems to be the No. 1 reason that 9/11 happened.
But Americans put their fingers in their ears and sing, “La la la la la la — we can’t hear you!”
Which, of course, won’t prevent another 9/11.
In any case, I’m happy that the unelected Bush regime is gone and I’m happy that 9/11 no longer is an effective tool of fear and control, which, when you think about it, ironically is a form of domestic terrorism, only it’s treason, too, because it’s Americans terrorizing other Americans, such as with the Bush regime’s bogus color-coded terrorist-strike alerts.
I don’t miss those days, those McCarthyesque days of bogus terrorist-strike alerts and dissenters of the unelected, war-mongering Bush regime being labeled as terrorist sympathizers.
Wingnut Glenn Beck does, though; his “9/12 Project,” according to its website home page
…is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with red states, blue states, or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.
Bullshit. What he is talking about is not national unity or patriotism or anything like that, but pure, raw, Nazi-ish jingoism, which is “unity” based upon fear and ignorance and xenophobia. (In George Orwell’s 1984, the repressive rulers [“Big Brother’] use fabricated enemies and constant fabricated warfare to keep the masses terrified and thus to keep the masses in line.) And, of course, the stupid white men like Beck are to be the ones to “lead” us out of the fear that they themselves stoke at the same time.
No, I refuse to go back to Beck’s Orwellian “vision” of how “great” things were on September 12, 2001.
We had eight long years of ruination by stupid white men during the unelected reign of BushCheneyCorp.
To even more of that we need to say to the treasonous wingnuts like Beck: Over our dead bodies.
And to ensure that we don’t have another 9/11 and more post-terrorist-strike national hysteria that the wingnutty fascists like the members of BushCheneyCorp and their supporters like Beck use for their own political gain, we need to learn from history for once. Part of that history is that the other peoples of the world have hated us Americans much more for our intentional ignorance of the wrongs that our nation has done unto them than for anything like our “freedom.”
And yes, learning that history means listening to what the 9/11 hijackers had to say and jettisoning our intentional ignorance once and for all.