Tag Archives: 9/11

September 11th – A Humanist Response 10 Years On

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Image of WTC before the attack with US Flag in backgroundToday is the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on US soil. The World Trade Center in New York was attacked shortly before 9 AM on a bright and sunny Tuesday in 2001. By the end of the awful day both towers were destroyed, the Pentagon had been hit, and people were killed in a fourth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Five days later I wrote an essay about the attacks from my secular humanist perspective. I went through it this week and have posted it again – changed little from the day I wrote it.
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Should I feel good that Bin Laden is dead?

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I am strongly opposed to the death penalty. It is a waste of time and money and isn’t justice. I strongly support the rule of law, due process, and the criminal court system. I seemed to throw all that out late Sunday evening when I learned that US Special Forces killed terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

I was concerned when the media started to ramp up coverage late Sunday evening for an unusal statement from President Obama about a publicly unknown topic. Such sudden statements either mean a military operation has occurred, there was a death of a significant figure, or a killer asteroid was about to snuff out civilization. None of those are really good news but the President surprised me. He announced that the terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a raid on a house in Pakistan by US Special Forces (reports say it was a Navy Seal team).

I fully support due process and the legal system but Bin Laden wouldn’t give up so his death is not a problem for me. He was either going to be dead in a shoot out or dead from old age in a dank dark prison and I am slightly happy about it. The man helped plan, fund, and execute terrorist activities including 9/11 that killed THOUSANDS.

But let me be clear I do NOT support an eye for an eye. I would have been just as happy if he was alive and in custody and on his way to Gitmo or wherever the government would put him.

I have never believed that the death of a criminal in response to the deaths of their victims is appropriate. I also disagree with any policy that would call for targeted killing of “bad guys”. I would like to think, short of evidence to the contrary, that President Obama authorized the capture of Bin Laden and that he forced the fire fight that in the end led to his death.

Sunday night, after the statement, the news channels showed crowds in DC and New York celebrating like their favorite team had won the World Cup. I understand the emotion but it was no better than the scenes on 9/11 of Palestinians dancing in their streets.

The death of Bin Laden wasn’t a victory or justice. It was an end to a chapter of our history. It was 10 years in the making.

I also have some friends who are a bit upset at the use of the military and the killing.

I have always been of the mind that sometimes use of the military is necessary. Using the legal system and police work should be the default but sometimes we have to deal with irrational assholes who don’t subscribe to law and order.

I thought the invasion of Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden was the right thing to do and the use of Special Forces to raid Bin Laden’s compound on Sunday without telling Pakistan was also correct. There have been a lot of questions about the Pakistani response to Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. For years it supported Bin Laden and the Taliban as a policy to keep India, their on again off again enemy, off balance.

I also think the burial of Bin Laden within 24 hours of his death as prescribed by Islamic law was much more than he really deserved seeing how his buddies in Iraq and Somalia abused and mutilated dead Americans over the years.

With the final objective of the war in Afghanistan completed with Bin Laden’s death, I would hope we can bring our soldiers home sooner rather than later.

Goodbye first decade of the 2000’s

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Different critics have their “best of…” lists coming out this week as we get ready to end the first decade of the 2000’s. I thought I might add what I think are the major touchstones of the decade. These are events or persons who, generations from now, will still be looked at and studied or commented on.

In no particular order:

September 11, 2001

That date will live in infamy in the history books. Over 2,000 people were murdered that day in the terror attacks that led to the destruction of the two World Trade Center towers, heavy damage to the Pentagon, and sense of numbness that took some months to work itself out.

The event also brought out the best of humankind as millions banded together in the initial days and months both to grieve and to work through the aftermath. I admit I channeled my inner cowboy wanting to get the mofos who planned it.

9/11 has also guided our country’s direction for at least this first decade and probably for many more decades to come.

Presidential election of 2000

The 2000 election was the first time that one political party, the Republicans, were able to use their control of a state government and the US Supreme Court to thwart the will of a majority of Americans and install their own guy into the White House. I hope it will be the last time. It’s very bad for democracy if one party is able to manipulate the media, state, and courts to get what they want outside of logic and reason.

George W Bush and the neocons

The installed President in 2000 was a bad influence on this country for the 8 years he held office. It wasn’t only the guy but those he had working for him, the neocons, like Vice President Dick Cheney who wanted to install their brand of “Pax Americana” on the world.

Breaking with the traditional post-world war II idea of diplomacy to solve problems in the world, Bush and his goons “shot first” and asked questions later. They believed that fighting terrorism involved imposing organized military power first rather than the usual criminal justice model of investigation and intelligence. They were mistaken that a terror group could be fought like a war between armies. Their failed policy led to a loss of prestige in the world, loss of men and women in our military, loss of scores of innocent civilian lives in areas we invaded and destroyed, and the failure to capture the major people who planned and funded the 9/11 attacks in the first place.

At home Bush and the neocons chipped away at our civil rights – always “blaming” 9/11 – by violating our privacy, detaining without charge hundreds if not thousands of Muslim aliens in this country, holding so-called enemy combatants outside the country to avoid basic constitutional protections for alleged criminals, facilitating the use of torture, and using fear mongering to keep us all in line.

Bush and the neocons, through their use of the Congress, changed laws that were meant to protect our economy and well being which helped bring about the economic crash of 2008. President Bush was alerted to the signs of collapse and basically did nothing until Wall Street started to implode on itself. Then he gave them a blank check with basically no strings attached.

Presidential election of 2008

This election was good because the system worked. The American electorate, in a stinging rebuke of the whole Bush Presidency, put the Democrats into a commanding majority in the House and Senate. It not only elected a Democrat as President but also the first African-American, Barrack Obama. The Republicans and the neocons tried their best tricks to steal another election but the public turned them away hard.

Corporatism

Although the jury is still out on this one, I feel a major political point of the first decade is the continued corruption of our government by the corporate lobbyist. These people give money to Congress people to buy votes that benefit their industries agenda. It was this corruption that helped bring on the economic collapse of 2008 by getting bought legislators to remove regulations installed during the Depression of the 1930’s to protect the economy from wild speculation. What happens? Wild speculation followed by collapse. *sigh*

The corruption led to Congress passing tax breaks and other laws that gave big pay days to their wealthy friends while screwing the middle class and damaging the lower income people time and time again

Corporatism has led the Democratic majority installed after the abuse of the Bush years to continue the failed economic polices and to be ineffectual in passing almost anything, like real health care reform, that challenges their masters in the board rooms around the country.

The influence of the corporation has also led to our major media outlets being held by only a few large companies and that has effected what passes for journalism today. Mainstream media protects and propagandizes for their corporate bosses, their affiliated companies, and bought legislators at the state and Federal levels.

I have a feeling, moving forward, that Corporatism will become more of an issue that could lead to a crises that an election can’t fix.

The Internet

It really came into its own during the first decade. The one area not entirely controlled by media conglomerates – yet – is the Internet. Millions of people bypassed the propaganda that passes for news on mainstream media and shared news and information directly through their computers.

The Internet has already knocked down print newspapers and severely hurt broadcast media. That is a sure sign that people want their news and information unfiltered. People also want facts and the truth not a press release that spins something according to some agenda.

Fake celebrities

The first decade of the 2000’s saw the rise of basically lazy, untalented people thinking they should be famous by participating in “reality” TV shows or for doing something stupid. When you can’t answer the question “Why should we care?” then the person is basically a fake celebrity. Historians might look on this like we do about those wacky stunts pulled in the middle 20th century like stuffing a phone booth, dance marathons, and stuffing a small car with people.

Hopefully in the coming decade, there are far more better times than bad ones.

Good luck to us all…

We need to leave Afghanistan now

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With the debris of the collapsed World Trade Center towers fresh in my mind back in October 2001, I was very happy when the United States and allies helped remove the Taliban from governing Afghanistan. One reason was they refused to turn over Osama bin Laden and the others responsible for planning the attacks on the towers on 9/11. The Taliban also had been very nasty to the women of Afghanistan and I was getting tired of hearing all the other horror stories from there. But common of the bad thinking of the former Bush administration, the war in Afghanistan went left of center and needs to be ended.

The blatant jingoism of the neo-cons blinded them to the fact that Afghanistan had historically chewed up the British and Soviets, they didn’t capture bin Laden and his gang, and then thought they could impose “democracy” on the country.

Bush and company sent too few resources then cut back more as they fought a stupid war in Iraq that was only about settling past scores and for oil.

Once out of power the Taliban melted into the mountains and into Pakistan. Was there any doubt it would happen because they never fought a set piece battle back 2001. They withdrew from each city as the Northern Alliance and the US drew near.

Until recently Pakistan had been a supporter of the Taliban. That changed when it the Taliban started putting the Pakistan government in danger as it built strongholds in the Swat valley. But the support was there and didn’t help the US in capturing bin Laden in 2001.

The Karzai government, put into place by the US, is corrupt and after the last election, seen now as fraudulent, will never bring Afghanistan into a modern democracy. Once US troops leave Karzai will not be around for long. The Taliban have infiltrated the police and army and with the war lords still around, nothing really has changed.

It seems to me that Afghanistan is a lost cause and the US should leave as soon as possible.

9/11 images were war pornography?

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September 11th 2001 was a dark day in American history. That isn’t disputed. What is debated is how the country reacted afterward. I read a blog entry on a website today that bothered me because the writer seemed to be blurring how events turned out rather than what was known that day.

On the website Crooks and Liars, writer Susie Madrak posted an entry titled “Flashback: The Day The Earth Stood Still”.

It was a very personal account of what happened to her on September 11th 2001. I was interested in reading the essay as it matched my feelings that day until I got to the end when she wrote this:

My grown son was staying with me while he looked for a job and was sleeping on the couch when I came home. I flipped on the TV and it woke him up. We watched as they showed the planes crashing into the building, again and again and again.

“Turn it off,” he said after an hour or so. “This is pornography, war pornography. Turn it off.”

So I did.

When we have our limbic brain punched over and over again by horrific images, and those images are then used to justify more horror, there is only one solution: Turn off your TV.

My son was right: The 9/11 images were war pornography, something watched over and over as we stroked ourselves into wargasm.

Flashback: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Those words bothered me because of the way I spent my day that day. I watched the TV coverage all day and into the evening because it just didn’t seem real and I need to see the live coverage to keep driving it home that it happened.

Yes the attacks were used to justify an unneeded war in Iraq – later. On that day in September is was impossible to know how it would turn out. How could someone claim the TV images were being used to manipulate people.

That would be like saying the newsreels showing the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was used to trick us into war.

The war was started by those attacks just as they were in September 2001.

Calling the news images that day “war pornography” is either an after-the-fact colorization of the event or a cold hearted reaction to mass murder.

I hope it is the first and not the former.