Here’s a reposting of a blog I recently wrote for Santa Cruz Patch. View the original post here.
I’m one of those people who writes letters to the Sentinel [our local newspaper]. Quite often. I read things, get all riled up, and respond to the editor. Sometimes they even print my letters. Today was one of those days; today a letter I wrote responding to an article about local inter-faith groups commemorating 9/11 together was published. However, 150 words was not nearly enough space to express my complete thoughts on the subject, so I’d like to expand on my letter here.
Basically, the article in the Sentinel explained how people of many different faiths (including Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and Christians) would be marching together in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The positive message of the article turned ugly, however, when a Santa Cruzan named Peter Klotz-Chamberlin was quoted, highlighting the responsibility that America played in these attacks. He said: “forgive us as a country for creating this circumstance where people would hate us that much.” Come again?
Like I stated in my letter to the editor, there is no explanation for the enduring hatred the 9/11 terrorists had for America. Those who perpetrated the attacks were religious extremists who had been indoctrinated and brainwashed to hate America unconditionally. Of course our country has it’s problems – poverty, crime, inequality, racism, bigotry (just watch the GOP Presidential debates!) – but our country also affords us many freedoms – many more freedoms than members of Islamic countries are afforded. Terrorists are frightened by these freedoms and view them as a threat. Nothing we did as a country merited such a devastating and destructive attack on innocent people. If they simply hated American policies they would have killed the policy makers, not regular American people. It is disgusting and ignorant for Klotz-Chamberlin to suggest that we somehow created a situation that would bring on terrorism like this.
America made some terrible decisions after 9/11. The invasion of Iraq (and search for WMDs which, surprise!, were no where to be found) was a complete joke and waste of billions upon billions of dollars. Lives (both Iraqi and American) were lost and continue to be lost in the ongoing war. Islamophobia and racial profiling are pervasive and distressing. But I think it is important in this case to separate pre-9/11 from post-9/11. What happened after the attacks should not affect how people feel about the actual attacks. I’m embarrassed and angry with the way President Bush and Vice President Cheney responded to 9/11, but I don’t believe they personally created a situation that merited the worst attack on domestic soil since Pearl Habor. In fact, those who planned and perpetrated the 9/11 attacks had been doing so long before Bush and Cheney even took office.
I’m a passionate liberal through and through. I subscribe to progressive ideals, largely due to my reform Jewish upbringing in Santa Cruz. And though I always try to hear both sides of an argument, I am prone to detesting very conservative Republicans. But for as much as I hate the extreme right, I also recognize the disturbing and hateful messages of the extreme left, of which people like Klotz-Chamberlin (I believe) are part of. Sympathizing with terrorists is NOT progressive. It’s absurd.
It’s like if a Jewish person asked (and I’ve actually heard Jews ask this) in response to anti-Semitism, “What did we do as a people to make everyone hate us so much?” The Holocaust didn’t happen because of something the Jews did. The hate that Hitler and other historical anti-Semites had for the Jews was based on false propaganda and other fallacies like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and blood libel (ask Sarah Palin about that one….). There’s nothing you could point to to rationalize the Holocaust.
Similarly, there is no logical answer to why radical Islamists (a political version of Islam) attacked America on that day. Although I did hear on a news report that several weeks before the 9/11 attacks Osama Bin Laden announced he would be carrying out an unprecedented attack on America for it’s support of Israel. So I guess we really can blame the Jews on this one! (Resource Center For Non-violence cheers wildly).
The 9/11 attacks affected America in more ways than I care to discuss in this post. We are still feeling the effects of that day, as are those countries that we invaded in reaction. Radical Islamists hate America for it’s Western values, Capitalist structure, support of Israel, and sketchy foreign policies, and frankly, those just aren’t good reasons to massacre 3,000 innocent civilians. True, the American government fed us all kinds of bull in the aftermath of 9/11, but I simply don’t think one can rationalize or feel responsible for terrorism. The only people responsible for terrorism are terrorists.
(I’d like to hear your thoughts, but in an open and somewhat annonymous forum comments can quickly turn reactionary and ugly. Please be thoughtful and engaging in your comments!)