EDITORIAL NOTE: Features articles are the opinions of their authors and do not reflect the opinions of the staff and management of Ink 19.
Ignorance is Not Bliss
Watching the clouds of smoke billow over New York and Washington was a sobering sight. Although I personally haven’t learned of anyone I knew that is missing after the attacks, due to the sheer number of people in the World Trade Center, a macabre version of “six degrees of separation” will undoubtedly find everyone in this country connected in someway to one of the lost. Of course, in a larger sense, we are all only one degree away — any attack on an American is an attack on us all, any affront to a human being is an affront to all. Many outcomes of this aggression are being bandied about, from US strikes on “those who harbor terrorists” (which would include most of the civilized world), to “bomb them back to the stone age” (they are already there, thanks in large part to Soviets a few years back). Closer to home, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants greater powers to conduct intelligence, including the expanded use of wiretapping and surveillance. And according to many polls, most Americans are just fine with whatever the powers that be deem necessary to keep this from happening again. They rush from prayer vigil to candlelight service, bedecked in Old Navy T-shirts with the American flag proudly displayed, the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the wind from the antenna of their gas-guzzling SUV. The world has a new Hitler in Osama bin Laden, the Taliban function quite well as Nazis.
The most oft-heard question in the days after the attack was “Why?”. Why did crazies target the greatest nation in the history of the world? It is considered the height of bad taste, almost treasonous, to attempt to give a reasonable answer to the question. It is far easier to lump all Muslims together under an umbrella of Western-hating, jihad-ready loonies who deserve to suffer for this seemingly unwarranted attack on America. Take out Kabul, nuke the Taliban, show the world that America will not back down, that we are united in the face of an enemy. Let us unleash our incredible dogs of war against a country of 26 million people (the majority of whom want the Taliban out of the way worse than we do) whose life expectancy is around 46 years, whose chief exports are wool, fruit and nuts. If Pakistan won’t allow us to put troops on the ground, well then, we’ll kick their butts, too.
Before I state my take on the entire issue of “why,” please understand that I truly grieve for the families and friends of those who are lost and killed in the attacks. They did not deserve to give their lives, and nothing will bring them back. Our best monument to those who have fallen is justice. No one should die because they choose to work in one building versus another. No one should die because they choose to live in America. Find those who orchestrated this savagery, try them in an international court, and let the rule of law prevail. But jailing — or bombing — bin Laden and his cohorts will not make our nation one bit safer. Removing plastic knives from the departure lounge TGI Fridays won’t make me board a plane any more assured. Intercepting my email and scanning it for terroristic buzzwords isn’t going to make me any less a target.
Why? Because the advent of “the first war of the 21st Century,” the erosion of our civil liberties, and all the flag-waving “patriots” are only Band-Aids on cancer. That cancer is American Imperialism. Why are these countries so angry with us to begin with? Could it be the actions of our CIA, muddling about in their governments, propping up puppet rulers, arming both sides against each other in civil and religious wars, all in the sake of “American interests”? The United States currently has troops on the ground in over 100 countries. Why? Why do we think we should force our viewpoints into every corner of the world? Why does the “land of the free” not allow other nations the same privilege? Could it be something as basic as oil? Could it be that without an enemy, there are less reasons to build arms, and that would mean that someone down the line misses a paycheck? Could it be as callous as that?
In this time of crisis and mourning, any dissention from the national mania for vengeance seems wrong. But as years go by, and this sort of thing continues (and it surely will, even if every Muslim is sent to Allah, for we suffer no shortage of enemies), instead of buying yet another flag or bumper sticker, buy a book. Educate yourself on American policy and learn why we are the world’s biggest tyrant. Learn why we are considered a rogue nation, a capitalistic, unholy brute who lies to the world and its own citizens. Find out for yourself all the facts that you can about the world as it exists today, and then make your choice in the voting booth or on the streets. They say the first causality of war is truth. If so, then we as a nation are making choices based on lies. And have been since the First World War. Remaining ignorant of who and what we as nation truly are is not bliss, it is suicidal. Ask yourself why we felt we had to defend Kuwait against Iraqi aggression, while we let millions starve to death in Africa. Could it be that we have little or no financial interest in Rwanda? Why do we have troops in Bosnia and not Tibet? Could it be that our nation depends on the cheap (i.e. prison) labor that China uses to provide us with our material trinkets such as VCRs and Nikes? These are the choices that you support every time you vote for the same old roster of bribable goons that has “led” our nation in modern times.
We are both a strong and proud nation. Let us also be a moral one as well. Educate yourself, and make our land safe for our children, instead of continuing to vote for those who paint a larger and larger target on our backs. The best thing we can do to avenge those who lie in the rubble is to assure that this never happens again. And only a combination of brains and heart can do that, not a gun.