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The American dissident's reaction to terror at home: analysis
by angka (angka [at] riseup.net)
Saturday Sep 15th, 2001 2:56 PM
New choices with old consequences confront American dissidents.
On the morning of September 11th, I was sitting outside my apartment, having a smoke. I was just about to head out for school, when this guy runs up to me yelling, \'they blew up the world trade center!\' I didn\'t believe him. A moment later some other guy walks up, hearing the conversation, and starts talking about it. This is when I dropped my smoke and ran inside to the TV.

Like everyone else, I spent the next few hours sitting in front of the TV, watching this surreal event: the sort of destruction civilian Americans have only seen in movies. Loss of life on the order of a third-world disaster. I\'m sitting there, looking at this unspeakable evil act. Live at the Big Apple.

When I could finally comprehend what was happening, well into the news day, the first thing I thought about was General Sherman at Atlanta during the American civil war. He looked out upon the city, a third of which he was about to order burned to the ground, and he told the people of Atlanta: \"now war comes home to you.\"

Again it has. These parallels you\'re hearing to Pearl Harbor are accurate, at least in one sense: Americans have discovered again that they are vulnerable, and that there are some people out there who are very pissed off at us. Now, modern Americans have certainly known that they weren\'t very popular in many parts of the world. But this unbelievable vivid attack has shown Americans just how evil and determined some of these angry people are...

Yet these people made a mistake in doing such a terrible thing to us: Because the great lesson of Pearl Harbor is what it did here in America. Socialists, labor leaders, conservationists, minorities (who were not well-rewarded for their great courage and displays of unity, and of course the terrible treatment of Japanese-Americans), all rallied together in this country to oppose an enemy who had viciously attacked us. The attack on Pearl Harbor began the undoing of those who carried it out.

Progressives witnessed all of this. Then we watched while our loyalty and resolve during the Second World War was used against us afterwards in the red scare. And we have continued to watch as the noble idealism of American foreign policy at the end of the war was perverted into a vehicle of American corporate expansion. We have watched \'American internationalism\' evolve from the great vision of the San Francisco UN conference into a policy of expansive greed, direct and indirect participation in terrible human rights violations around the world-and above all, a disheartening tendency to support states around the world that have no regard for the very principles of democracy and self-determination that are at the alleged heart of \'American internationalism\'.

The last half-century of American foreign policy has created for us this world where determined men board our domestic planes and use them to kill thousands of our citizens on the ground. These men who attacked us came from the Middle East. Do Americans understand that we created the world\'s largest refugee population out of their kinsmen, the Palestinians? Do we understand that our ham-fisted attempt to \'suppress\' the admittedly belligerent and unacceptably expansionist aspirations of Iraq\'s leader, we have starved a million Iraqis to death?

The answer is, yes, many of us do. So many of us who love the truth above all else understand what it going on in the Middle East. We know the suffering over there, and we work very hard at educating other Americans. We know the tragedy of occupation and displacement being inflicted on the Palestinians. We hurt for those who can\'t get enough to eat in Iraq. We are telling our friends and relatives, and word is getting out.

Or it was. But now we have been attacked. So much ground that had been covered, making the American people understand the consequences of their foreign policy, has now been lost. And now, this evil act has forced progressive Americans to lend their voices to the great chorus of outrage against those responsible for it-men who claim to be fighting for this cause which we support!

Because we are horrified, because we are angry, because we feel the visceral shock of our homeland being attacked, and our innocents dying, we now unite with those with whom we do not agree. We too demand that this terrible evil be answered, and dealt with. We fear what is coming to the middle east-we know these terrorists desire war with us, and it seems increasingly clear that war is exactly what they\'re going to get. We would stand and shout that there must be no war, but we will not do that now. Not after this unspeakable, evil attack on our homeland.

It is likely that many of the dissidents who united in anger at the attack on Pearl Harbor knew that after the war they would once again become the targets of political repression, as many of them had been before the war. The specter of evil they saw in the fascist enemies of that time was more important, however, and they saw the need to commit themselves in opposition to them.

Today, as lower Manhattan lies buried in rubble, and more American flags fly from more houses than ever before, we latter-day dissidents must make the same choice: and after there is justice, after we avenge this terrible act of war, we must make sure that the people understand the suffering and tragedy in the Middle East every bit as well as they understand the evil of September 11th.

9/15/01 angka

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