Sunday, September 11, 2011

Putting 9/11 in Perspective(s)

There are many perspectives on 9/11 and its aftermath. More seem to germinate with almost any newsworthy event since. Current coverage of the "decade" 2001-2011, in anticipation of the remembrance of that day 10 years ago, explores and adds to the burgeoning ways 9/11 is legitimately and tangentially related to actions within the United States and abroad since.

The weekend edition of Canada's Globe and Mail has its full regular section Focus devoted to the socio-political ramifications of 9/11, but also parts of the News, Sports, and Arts sections. The national network, the CBC, for two weeks has been running various documentaries on the attacks and their consequences. As the population of Canada tends to stay as far south as possible, most Canadians have long been used to having US television and radio stations easily accessible from their homes, including in the days of the aerial antenna on the roof. Standard cable packages now include the closest ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS affiliates, along with at least one 24hr news station, most commonly CNN and/or FOX News in their domestic, not international versions. Of course, no one is forced to watch, listen, or read about 9/11 coverage or commemorations, yet it tends to be ubiquitous, even on the local Canadian city news.

Many Canadian locations were directly affected by 9/11, on the same day and in the days immediately following. Tiny Gander, Newfoundland became the airport to which most transatlantic flights headed to northeastern US destination were diverted. Others were diverted to other airports in the Maritimes, like Halifax, Nova Scotia, but also to airports across the country, with Vancouver being the western hub. Toronto, Ontario, the financial centre of America's northern ally was seen as a possible target, as was nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario,which is a main supplier of energy and part of the grid for the whole North East of the USA. Toronto airports were on lock down. Families in the Maritimes and other major centres of diversion took in stranded Americans, or volunteered at temporary shelters for them. Canadians from all provinces donated goods and money, and some even went to New York to volunteer their skills.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

It has often been said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends. Friendship gives us comfort and it gives us strength, but can be tested in difficult times. In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.

On the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we remember with gratitude and affection how the people of Canada offered us the comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance that day and in the following days by opening their airports, homes and hearts to us. As airspace over our two countries was shut down, hundreds of flights en route to the United States were landed safely by Canadian air traffic control in seventeen Canadian airports from coast to coast. The small city of Gander, Newfoundland, population 9,600, received 6,600 diverted passengers, while Vancouver received 8,500 people. For the next 3 days — before our air space was reopened — those displaced passengers were treated like family in Canadian homes, receiving food, shelter, medical attention and comfort.

Ten years later, we continue to be grateful for Canada's friendship, and for the solidarity you continue to show us in our shared fight against terrorism. The United States is fortunate to share a border with a country that understands, in your words, "There is no such thing as a threat to the national security of the United States which does not represent a direct threat to this country."

On this anniversary, we recognize all the gestures of friendship and solidarity shown to us by Canada and its people, and give thanks for our continuing special relationship.


Signed Barack Obama

There is no doubt that 9/11 had an immense impact on the world and many individuals in it, whether they are particularly aware of it or not. Part of that impact was understandable shock, grief, and fear directly related to the attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York, the Pentagon, and the Capitol in Washington. Lives were lost, and the symbolism of the targets was clear: the economic, military, and political power of the USA. A very small minority felt a celebratory sense that the USA was getting back some of its own, or a barely acknowledged pride that Arab Muslims, often derided by former colonial and current neo-colonial powers could have pulled it off. Overall Muslim countries, and individual testimonies describe horror, grief, compassion, and a rejection of the attacks as unIslamic, contradictory to jihad as a legitimate defensive war, to martyrdom as unsought for death in a defensive action, and to the prohibition against voluntary suicide.

Yet most of the impact was in the response to 9/11 by the US administration of the day, that of President George W Bush--the response beyond the immediate attention to security and rescue. Part of this was in the rhetorical tone set almost immediately: us against them, "yer either fer us 'r agin us", "wanted dead or alive", the "axis of evil". The latter was particularly pernicious as it went beyond bringing individuals to justice, and to deliberate analogies to WWII, the last uncontroversially "just war", serving as justification for myriad violations of universal human rights and freedoms within the USA and abroad, for flagrant contraventions of multiple clauses of the Geneva Convention, for the Bush doctrine of a particularly broad form of pre-emptive war, and for defiance of just war theory itself, in the "War on Terror".

The supreme irony of a war on an emotion seems to have been lost, perhaps deliberately so, on the namers of this particular presidential war--beyond the pale of previous presidential wars on poverty, cancer, drugs. Like these other wars, the War on Terror is a war on a concept, and therefore potentially a perpetual war, one which allows for continual investment of resources, and energy. Such a war maintains and necessitates a constant state of psychological tension, material and mental preparedness, and socially acceptable, institutionalized paranoia. It has an ill-defined enemy, which can come over time and space to encompass any number of perceived manifestations of the concept. The declarer defines and redefines the war in perpetuity. The enemy cannot surrender to end the war. The war ends when the declarer decides it has--if the declarer decides it has.

While the USA is drawing down from the wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq, there is no seeming end to the War on Terror. Guantanamo Bay is still open for Geneva Convention defying business. The undeclared war on Pakistan continues, still undeclared, even escalating. Extraordinary state powers relating to security, "war measures", continue, and were signed into continuance by Obama in the first months of his presidency. Similar measures are forced upon allies, including Canada, which is constantly at pains to prove its toughness on security, the tightness of its border, its ability to arrest and hold Muslim men without charge or normal judicial rights (to a lawyer, to an informed defense), and to produce whatever "intelligence" on whomever, no matter how incipient or flawed, for US extradition to black sites and outsourced torture in MENA dictatorships fostered by the US.

Allied countries' bids for independent action in this War on Terror are punished, as Canada was for not declaring war on Iraq. Bush not only snubbed us politically with the diplomatic equivalent of a slap in the face, but took pains to make sure Canadians realized non-compliance would result in economic penury. Our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, then in opposition, was part of a group that took out a full page ad in the New York Times stating they were in favour of joining the war on Iraq, and against then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's decision not to.

Now that Harper is in power, and the Iraq War is so unpopular, he has changed his mind. However, he does compensate for not being in on that war, by being Israel's very best friend in the world (even more pro-Israeli than the Obama Administration), and building Canada's military--at great expense--along with its profile in the national psyche. Harper has changed the curricula for citizenship classes and testing, along with those in the public school system, to focus on Canada's history as a fighting nation, rather than a nation of peace-keepers. We too are fed the national security rationale.

National security is important, but a war on an emotion of fear, terror, feeds on fear-mongering and induces perpetual heightened awareness, and the psychological tension of an acute traumatic stress disorder, long after the stresser has passed. To maintain this acute state, there must be constantly newly discovered threats, incidences, potential attacks. In between, there are a series of post-traumatic stress reminders. To commemorate the loss of lives on 9/11 is understandable, particularly on significant anniversaries. To memorialize the casualties of a war during that war is a sign of a perpetual war.

That there were such obvious ideological and material gratifications for members of the Bush administration in how they responded to 9/11 has led to considerable distrust of government, political parties, and the ability of the system to protect all of its citizens without abusing them. There are arguments floating about that the response to 9/11 is responsible for the current political malaise in the US--the divisiveness of the politics, the general distrust of politicians and government by voters, the disaffection for all things political by the general population.

There are also arguments floating about that the Arab Spring is a result of 9/11, the American responses to it, and American ideals. These include the suggestion that by taking out Islamic extremism as a viable political force, the US has created a political vacuum that has forced the rise of secular opposition groups. American ideals of capitalism and democracy are seen as underpinning the belief systems and actions of these Arab revolutionaries. At the same time, there has been fear-mongering about tribes, and Islamicist extremists being behind the rebellions or taking them over even in countries where there is very little evidence of any such activity. This American co-opting of revolutions that rose without them, and where they have consistently been behind the curve, smacks of ongoing neo-colonialism.

Framing international events from a very narrow American perspective is not new, but it is unique to the US. Other countries also perceive the world from their own paradigms, but seem to take greater pains to understand the world from the perspective of other nationals. This is evident in their discourse within the media and in other social institutions including academia. The result in the context of 9/11 is a constant American drip drip of analogies to 9/11, justifications by 9/1l, and expectations that others will respond and react as they have--to 9/11.

Part of that response does involve religion. Although Americans like to believe theirs is a secular state, it is a secularism framed within Christianity from the discovery, through the pilgrims, the settlers, the American Revolution, the framing of the Constitution, and on to the present day. There is no doubt that despite the careful framing of the War on Terror as a war on Islamic fundamentalist extremism, Islamicist terrorists, Muslim extremists, or whatever other personal or choice of terminology--Stephen Harper prefers "Islamic terrorism" interchangeable with "Islamicism"--to distinguish from Muslims generally, it has impacted Muslims generally.

It has impacted American Muslims and those in other non-majority Muslim countries specifically. Recently I was asked where I was for 9/11, meaning where was I when the 2 planes hit the twin towers. I don't remember where I was, except that I was probably buried in some research because I didn't learn about it until about noon. After ascertaining that it was true, and not a "War of the Worlds" style hoax, my first reaction was to start praying that no Muslims had been involved as perpetrators, a sort of "Please, PLEASE, let this be like Oklahoma City, pllleeezzze...". I knew that if Muslims had been involved, the result, especially under George W Bush's administration would be this--an all pervasive overreaction, a convenient excuse for more than was required.

This became clear rapidly in the US and in Canada as innocent Muslims came under suspicion, brown people of all ethnicities found themselves under greater scrutiny (Rohinton Mistry for example), and some had the misfortune to be arrested, and jailed on home soil (the Toronto 17, the Toronto 18, both sets predominantly Pakistani-Canadians, other Arab Muslims in Canada), or worse transported to a living hell in the homelands they had long left behind (Maher Arar, Abousfian Abdelrazik). Omar Khadr, arrested in a fire fight in Afghanistan at the age of 15 has had the full Guantanamo treatment for the worst of the worst adults.

In more individual and personal ways the average non-newsworthy were also affected. A Moroccan friend who was studying here in 2006 mentioned to me that people always asked her if she were Muslim, and after she said yes, asked if she were "practicing". She had no idea what this meant, until I explained that it derived from Christian distinctions between those who are nominally whatever denomination, but don't actually pray, attend mass, or services, belong to a specific church group, etc. It seems it was passable for her to be Muslim as long as she wasn't a practicing one, didn't actually behave as if she were, or act on her religious beliefs. Over time, and after living in Europe for a decade, she has become avidly non-practicing, as she reminds me every time I send her Eid greetings.

A South Asian-Canadian Hindu friend with a great number of Muslim friends, all of whom seem to be international students or recent immigrants named Mohamed, describes being insulted as "terrorists" and having eggs thrown at them by passing cars, more than once, while walking as a group--between classes--in good downtown areas. His affinity for Muslims began when he and the only other brown kid in his kindergarten class, another Mohamed, had to battle their way through the playground bullies to get home each day. Now, thanks to the response to 9/11, he is back in the trenches.

My pizza guy, an older Afghani, describes being about to start university when the Soviets arrived in Afghanistan, and how he walked out of Afghanistan--literally walking from Kabul into Pakistan--at the first shot fired. He made his way from country to country until he could get to Canada, where as a modest worker he has been able to bring all his family from Afghanistan, marry, and have 5 children of his own. He describes this with pride. One evening he blurted out with shame and humiliation mitigated by anger that he had that afternoon been taken from the store, and questioned on the side street by the RCMP as if he were a supporter of the Taliban whom he despises. His greatest fear was that his children who attend a nearby public school would pass by and see him so humiliated as to be questioned publicly by the RCMP.

More subtly still, my Libyan students, long after 9/11, but during some exacerbation of attention to terrorist threats, and well before the Arab Spring, felt uncomfortable carrying the standard university student backpack on public transit. They felt they were looked at with suspicion, and that people avoided sitting near them. When they gathered to pray in the area designated for them to do so in the library, there were complaints, though they were out of sight, and largely out of earshot. They were then told to pray in a stairwell--neither particularly clean nor uninterrupted.

One of my depressed Pakistani patients, when asked about support systems, began saying that he went to prayers and the group he prayed with on campus were supportive--then looked aghast that he had said as much, and started to try to take it back, until I reassured him that was a positive coping strategy and encouraged him to continue. He later made a statement, and caught himself just before he added the expected, "Inshallah". I added it for him, and he looked surprised, puzzled, and then relieved.

I have made it a practice to ask Muslim patients who wear hijab if they had any backlash about it, as part of a review of potential stressers. Some did, some didn't, most tried to minimize it. Hijab is taken as a sign of being Muslim, and a practicing one, so no need to ask those questions. Some had further questions about it or the implication that they were brainwashed, and subjugated. Some have been harassed enough that their husbands asked them to stop wearing the headscarf in public. Feminist PhDs have told me they know all about Morocco...then proceed to describe "the treatment of Moroccan women" in a way which makes it clear they are thinking of some fictional Gulf State.

The American response to 9/11 has also specifically impacted Muslims in Muslim majority countries--beyond those who have been "bombed back to the Stone Age", though certainly those too. American foreign policy, set by the Bush Administration before it took power, a plan to reassert domination in 7 Middle Eastern countries consecutively, found a convenient justification in its response to 9/11. Iraq was moved up ahead of schedule, as a piece of unfinished business by an administration top heavy with veterans of the Geoge HW Bush administration. Libya folded pre-emptively, at least temporarily. Other dictatorships made further accommodations with the USA. Israel was given a free pass on bombing Lebanon and Gaza. The Quartet ignored internationally approved elections in Palestine and set up their own system of government and sanctions. These governmental actions have implications for resources or not in the interest of their respective national peoples.

Airport security affects us all, including the Irish friend with a banal Irish name who is on a no-fly list through no fault of his own. In his case this is an inconvenience more than anything else. Others are reminded that their ethnicity, religion, gender, age bracket, and country of origin make them candidates for special treatment each time they fly in and out of a Western country. One Saudi student who returned to her studies in mid-August complained to me of the treatment all the Saudis received at the airport. Loud, passive aggressive commentary about Saudis, in front of all the Saudis deplaning: "they", "they don't even speak English", "they get their degrees handed to them for a fee", etc. This is of course minor in comparison to other sufferings, but there's the rub...the chipping away, the repeated "small" injustices, insults, snubs, suspicions, questions...

And so, while I sympathize with those whose loved ones died on 9/11, I sympathize and empathize with the others who have been "collateral damage" to the American response to 9/11.

May all rest, and live, in peace.


oby said...

"There are arguments floating about that the response to 9/11 is responsible for the current political malaise in the US--the divisiveness of the politics, the general distrust of politicians and government by voters, the disaffection for all things political by the general population."

I don't know where those arguments come from but I have not heard that. To an American ear that sounds silly.. Americans have long had a love/hate relationship with their government...goes back to the founding of the country. They love to be suspicious and critical. IMO, what is causing the malaise is plain old politics...each side wants their way and they are fighting tooth and nail about it. If Americans don't trust the government NOW it has little to do with 9/11 and almost everything to do with jobs, economics, tremendously expensive bailouts that were supposed to help the people, a sinking job market and a President that promised change that has brought little in the way of economic change (some his fault, some not.). And for Americans that is where it begins and ends in their distrust in politicians at this moment in our history...can the average guy pay his mortgage and put food on the table?

"There is no doubt that despite the careful framing of the War on Terror as a war on Islamic fundamentalist extremism, Islamicist terrorists, Muslim extremists, or whatever other personal or choice of terminology--Stephen Harper prefers "Islamic terrorism" interchangeable with "Islamicism"--to distinguish from Muslims generally, it has impacted Muslims generally."

Thank you for recognizing pains have been taken to distinguish the difference between extremists and mainstream, "never going to hurt anyone" Muslims. Perhaps it has impacted you suggest we not be aware of the difference and that there are extremists out there that given a chance would do it all over again? I think that it important to recognize the difference, make efforts to not mix the two. But to pretend it doesn't exist is foolish.

"Although Americans like to believe theirs is a secular state, it is a secularism framed within Christianity from the discovery, through the pilgrims, the settlers, the American Revolution, the framing of the Constitution, and on to the present day."

Yes, that is true...and Canada isn't? How about France or Spain or Germany? Secular countries all...meaning that we might be Christian majority but we cannot disallow others their faith. Our constitution specifically states NO particular religion. Does it have a christian feel? Yes...but does Muslim majority Turkey have a Muslim feel?

I appreciate you pointing out some thought provoking aspects of 9/11...although I don't agree with all of it some of it is spot on.

I think it would be wonderful if you could do a post on the positive things Muslims encountered post 9/11. It was a horrible thing that happened and it brought out the worst in some people...but it also brought out the best in some too. Muslims had support of many nonmuslim people I know. I have no doubt that they felt some discrimination, in some cases bad...but I think there are many instances where people might have defended them and showed their solidarity with them. I also think some of the discrimination they felt might have been imagined...when you are in the spotlight for a bad reason that you have no part in you can be hypersensitive to gestures, looks etc...sometimes you can feel all eyes are on you when in fact they are not and things can be interpreted through a lense that you did not have prior. Let's not leave the feeling that Muslims are always the victims. I would like to see a post where both Muslims and nonmuslims were united and good things that came out of 9/11. Otherwise what is the point of "moving on" if something good cannot be borne out of something bad?

Countrygirl said...

Of those poor muslims always the prefer victims of the big bad white christians......but of course when in the last 10 years the majority of terrorista act are made by MUSLIM in the name of ISLAM of course that muslim will be screned more...but plese do tell me why it's proved that hate crimes against muslims remained more or less the same but hate crimes against jews are more compared to the muslims?

And those poor muslims captured and put in Guantanamo their only fault was put bombs, shooting to the infidels or only plotting some more terrorist acts here or elsewhere.

Everyday i thank God that Italy and others countries is framed and shaped by Christianity...but of course for the usual usefull idiots that is something to be ashamed cna se by the stupid decision by the EU think thank (a bunch of idiots) to exlude any mention of christians/jews roots in the eu constitution.

George Bush did what he had to do in those day, the country sufered a terrible act of war and in this he was 100% right in say you are with us or against us. in that terrible occasion there was only black or white

Susanne said...

Oby, Germany is so "Christian" that they still support churches by payroll taxes, most shops are closed on Sunday and many of the religious holidays I've never even heard of are national holidays. That's what I've gathered from my Syrian friend living there for 2 years anyway. :)

Wendy said...

I am hoping that now the memorial has been dedicated people will stop having 911 at the top of their list for all things bad and will stop having these huge annual 'rememberings'. Enough is enough. It is not only Muslims who suffer/suffered in the USA. The other day CBC was interviewing non-Muslim Arabs who received death threats among other things. Then there were the Sikhs who were beat up. Anyone who looked even vaguely Arab was fare game including dark skinned Italians. The excited states act like they are the only victims in the world and it's simply too much.
How many innocents has this "War On Terror" killed. How many drone attacks have killed children. What are the total numbers of ME people killed because of this? Bush didn't even have it right in the first place. He couldn't even 'attack' the right country!!! It wasn't a country warring against the USA but a man or an organization. The USA has done more harm as a result of 911 to civilians in the ME, to it's own people with psychological games and fear mongering, to travel and tourism, to the economy (devastating their own economy as well as others), and to their reputation. They coerced other countries to wage 'war' when they didn't want to but the fear of an unprotected border in one case and loss of trade, etc in most cases aided to the financial troubles in other countries as well. The USA has opened the door to China being the new world leader because of this.
Well, life goes on.
In my mind there will always be doubt as to who actually did or 'aided and abetted' 911.

Country Girl - the world is not black and white. Nothing is black and white and if you think Christians have not done damage then think again. It was not Islam that did the damage but people who called themselves Muslims.

Wendy said...

This article in the Vancouver Sun regarding a recent survey his very, very sad. Canada has always been known as a multi-cultural society where multi-culturalism really worked. I will put the majority of the blame for the sad results of this poll mainly on the USA.

Countrygirl said...

Wendy i'm well aware that the wolrd isn't black or white i was refering only on 9/11...for me that day there were who supported in any form that terrible act and the rest of the world...

oby said...


It is up to Canadians to think for themselves. I posted a poll on AB blog that showed things have not changed in terms of racism for Muslims and that is their opinion. If Europeans have an issue with Muslims is that our fault too? What about the intolerance spreading among Muslim majority countries for nonmuslims...people of the same that our fault too? If Canadians have a problem separating what is US and what is THEM it seems to me that is the fault of the people of your country.

I am absolutely convinced that Canadians are quite ignorant about American psyche. You and other Canadians have gotten it wrong so many times. Two years ago that is not something that I would have thought. Read Crossroads Arabia...that is an American blogger who is very pro Muslim but UNDERSTANDS the American mentality. He generally gets it right. Not surprising as he is American.

It seems you like to think you understand but you don't...again where do you get this idea that there are HUGE celebrations every year? Is that what your media is feeding you? I live here and it is not the case. Granted this year was huge and I hope that the Memorial will be a place of reflection and peace. You need to get over this idea that Americans live, breathe and eat 9/11. You are deluding yourself. Will we always remember it? Yes...but do we roll around in it daily? NO and if you think so then either you are very misinformed or are harboring a major grudge.

I am sorry if I seem harsh as I have no grudge against you personally. But this idea that Canadians understand Americans is ludicrous. By reading your responses and other Canadians it has become abundantly clear to me that the two countries are not nearly as similar as I had always presumed but on top of that it sounds a little like Canadians are a bit American obsessed and have nothing better to do than knock us (in some cases fairly and in some not at all.)
Why not focus on your own country and attitudes? You're selling your people short...I think they can think for themselves.

As for your other points about the war...I agree with you entirely. I was ultra PISSED that it happened. It was horrible, unnecessary and one of the biggest shames in US history. It was criminal.

Wendy said...

On a lighter note Oby ... you're comment made me laugh but in a good way. We have Canadian brothers, Will and Ian Ferguson, who write funny books mostly about Canada and Canadians. Two of their books that I have enjoyed are entitled "Why I Hate Canadians" and "How to be a Canadian". I can't remember which book now but in one them they talk about how 'PC' Canadians are except when it comes to Americans with whom we feel we can beat and bash. Of course it was in jest and the way it was written was very funny but there is a little bit of truth to it. Perhaps we feel we can do it because of the similarities between us and because we maybe feel 'safe' to do it.

Canadians and Americans are very different and at the same time very similar. There is no doubt about it at all. I think one of the things that has upset Canadians the most is that Canada was always known as a 'peace keeper nation'. Our government at the time of 911 refused to enter into a way. The next government bent to US persuasion and took us there. We blame our government for it but at the same time resent the pressures that are put on our country by our neighbour. We could say we had no choice as we are basically a country without an army with a neighbour who is one of our biggest trade partners and one who could walk in any time it chose and take our water, resources etc. so you can see it is kind of a love/hate relationship at times. :)

oby said...

Part 1...

I am glad that you were able to smile and laugh in a good way...lord knows the world needs as much of that as it can get.

When I wrote my post I was feeling so frustrated and I later was feeling badly because I didn't want to hurt you I just wanted to express my frustration. You may or may not know that Americans have no issues with Canadians. They don't make fun of them except for perhaps the way they talk (pronounce their "o"s and their propensity for "eh?") Beyond that we think of them as our lovely and friendly neighbors to the North. I actually felt a kinship when I lived in Minnesota and had to endure the winters...I always thought "those poor least we can go south to get warm, but they are stuck there in that cold." So imagine my shock when I realized that "beating and bashing" Americans is Canada's national sport (outside of rumbling on the hockey ice, of course). These people whom I had always thought of in a good way, skewered us (and sometimes viciously) every chance they got and took great delight in it. I don't know....maybe it makes them feel superior...anyway it was eye opening and it has changed my opinion of Canada and Canadians unfortunately. But I guess that is only fair since they feel that way about us. I don't mind a good joke but what bothered me is that so many of those that I read got it wrong in terms of understanding what makes Americans tick.

I mentioned reading the other blog because it is written by an American and though he points out America's faults he does so in a way that gets to the heart of how Americans think, IMO. For example, this particular post on this blog we are on now was about Perspectives on 9/11 ten years later. Yet it shows a photo that is ten years old taken at a time of great anguish and confusion when Americans needed to be united and were questioning the very essence of religion and faith. It is sensationalizing and focusing on the wrong end of 9/11 IMHO. Everyone complains we are focused on it ad nauseum and the photo chosen IMO would silently yet very visually lend credence to that opinion. If that was the point of the post then it is the prefect photo for that, but if it wasn't it was not the right photo and misses the spirit of the tenth anniversary.

oby said...

Part 2...

On "Crossroads" he also did a post about ten years later but he chose a picture of the memorial...peaceful and green and beautiful and not sensational at all, which I think is much closer to the mindset of Americans today. They wanted closure, they want to move on, they want to honor those that died in a way that has lasting meaning and is good. The first photo is one that expresses sorrow, death and pain...the second expresses life, and peacefulness. Where thousands died life has come back to that space. It has been turned from a place of hate and anguish and death and fear to a place of peace and quietude. As the new WTC is opened, thousands of people will use that space to read or eat their lunch or gather to chat or just sit for a moment and take a break from a busy day. It has been transformed from a graveyard to a functional place full of life and purpose. And I think that is much closer to where Americans head space is at this point in time, hence I think his photo far more accurate. That is only one example of what I meant about Canadians think they know us but they really don't.

Of course there will always be people who will lick the wound and keep it open and certainly the media has a role in that...but I don't think the majority of Americans are there. Or at least I don't think they want to be there.

I am quite sure that it will be remembered each year just as we remember Pearl Harbor and other commemoratives. But hopefully it will be as simple as laying a wreath or something similar...

We can remember our grief while still remembering others. My remembering 9/11 does not in any way keep me from remembering those who have died in Iraq/Afghanistan or any of the other things that have happened all over the world. It isn't an either/or situation.

The link you posted on here about Canada being destitute in terms of hope for avoiding a "clash of civilizations" was really astounding to me....not that Americans aren't worried about it on some how bad might it get...but the level of despair that Canada has expressed in that article IMO is pretty foreign to most Americans. As I said they might be concerned but I don't know any that has this level of desperation. Certainly not the majority. I would imagine SOMEONE I know would have mentioned it in some way and I have heard absolutely nothing in my world. Maybe we aren't there yet, or maybe we figure no matter what comes our way somehow we will work it out (hopefully to the satisfaction of Muslims and nonmuslims.) Americans as a bunch TRY to be positive and not let setbacks keep us down so maybe there is an element of that to it...Then again I try to always see the good in people so maybe I am wearing rose colored glasses to a degree.

In order to see if Americans feel desperate I tried to find something that would support that.I found some opinion pieces but no polls. I don't like opinion pieces as proof necessarily because it isn't based in facts either science or statistics which I think are more neutral and therefore less inflammatory. I found one piece about African American Muslims who reject the whole idea of a clash due to the fact that they feel very connected to the USA since they have been here since slavery. I found the following poll (a bit old and I apologize as I was not able to find a more recent one...) that showed that the US in general has a much better view of Muslims than Muslims have of the West so again this leads me to think a clash is not inevitable at least not from the American side...

Wendy said...

Oby, American bashing is a bit of a joke but it happens when we see silliness like when it comes to the budget fights, health care, etc. but that's another topic.

Canadians do think for themselves - perhaps too much and that's why we get so upset at times. We think a lot about environmental issues, the fate of others around the world, etc. We are not as focused on being Canadians but more on being good people and wanting out country represented as being good. We also have a very small population compared to the USA. We have a good quality of life and health care and have less worries about the economy and things like that. Perhaps that's why we are more interested in what's happening outside our country an not just within. Also we tend not to believe what the governments say so are not always so willing to go along with what comes down from them. We don't have a lot of news happening in our own country so we see and hear a lot more international news. There's a great difference between local American and local Canadian news.

On the subject of race. My husband and many of his friends first went from Africa to the USA. My husband went to Charlotte to University and then later worked. He and his friends all said the racism was bad and that they got it from both sides as the black Americans were resenting the Africans coming in. The whites actually treated the Africans better which was not saying a whole lot. Now that was 35 years ago and it might have changed but it was not a good place back then for black people of any kind.

oby said...

Hi Wendy...

I 100% agree with your statement. There are a great many things that annoy the hell out of me about the named several.

It makes me crazy that we don't have a better environmental record...that we are having such issues with bipartisanism (or lack of it) and I realized after traveling that Americans are rather inward looking. We are focused more on our issues than the rest of the world...NOT that we don't care about other people, but we are very content to live in our own world rather than focus outside of it.(I don't know if I explained that well.)Of course I think the more educated one is the less this is true, but I am talking overall. Americans are quite happy to listen to their own music, watch their own movies, live in their own country, worry about their own politics , live in their own milieu and many (though not all) feel quite happy not venturing outside of this...again, the more educated one is the less this applies IMO.

Racism is definitely an issue. My opinion is it is less of an issue between blacks and whites than it was 35 years ago because we are further from the civil rights uprisings and there have been 35 years for people to adapt. There are MANY mixed relations now and blacks have made many more strides though there is still some disparities. People think racism flows only from whites to blacks but there is a great deal of racism flowing from black communites to others including asians, whites, hispanics and yes, even Muslims. But no one will talk about that because that is not PC. PC or not it is true.

Your husband was in the South 35 years ago...that would not surprise me that he might have felt some racism...even now the south is racist though I think it grudgingly is coming along. 25 Years ago when I lived in Atlanta Ga and was going to Chiropratic college even I felt racism. I am white as the day is long BUT I was a Yankee (from right outside NYC.) When I went to get my car fixed the mechanic asked me where I was from. When I told him he told me (in a joking way) "I should have shot you the minute you walked in the door!" Ummm excuse me? I was so taken aback because I was not raised like that and I guess coming from the NYC area I was used to a little of EVERYTHING being in my backyard. EVEN I felt I don't doubt that he did too. And as I said the black community is fully able to be racist even of their own race as this white mechanic was of me. Sigh!!!!

Chiara said...

All--Thank you very much for your comments, and the discussion.

I have been reading them as they appear, as I always do, but have been delayed in commenting myself (and in posting) due to an unusually chaotic (for me) beginning of term at the university.

I hope that the first week's "nonsense" is over, and I will be back to more regular posting, and commenting very soon.

In the meantime, thanks again, and carry on! :D

Jay Kactuz said...

My question is why do Muslims think they should be exempt from responsibility for their beliefs, their actions and their dogma? It is always those vile Americans, Canadians, Westerners, Christians that are treating those poor innocent pure-as-snow Muslims so badly, for no reason at all. Strangely, on the other hand, non-Muslims are responsible for everything, from the crusades to airport searches, from dirty looks by one person, to reports that put Muslims in a bad light, even when those reports do nothing but state the facts.

Like it or not, people are going to have to take sides. Not because we want to but because Muslims by their actions, or lack of reflection and change, will make us do this.

Wendy, why do you exclude the things done by Muslims from your list? I think you would have a little credibility if you would condemn all attacks, starting about 1300 years ago. Is it bad for Bush to attack Iran and bomb villages, but ok for Mohammad to attack Banu-Al Mustaliq and about 45 other villages and cities, killing plundering and enslaving? I think that is a very fair question. Would you care to respond?

Is morality only for infidels? Does anybody say “Praise be upon him” after the name of GWB? Do we consider him a great moral example? Hey, as per your explanation, maybe Mohammad only called himself a Muslim, but be was really a closet Christian…

I guess our differences are inevitable. Too bad.

About Canadians, Europeans and the rest of the word. We all are alike and different. I know both conservative and liberals on both sides of these issues, and it is not a matter of nationality or even race. People are different and have a right to different opinions. As to racism it has always been with us and is part of human nature. I hope you Muslims don’t believe for a second that Muslims or Arabs are not racist, or Chinese, or Japanese, or whatever… And if it isn’t skin colour, it will be ethnicity, gender, political beliefs, religion, accent, or type of tattoos. We, the human race, stink.

Oh by the way, the US will lose the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and so on. I am not saying the Muslims there will win, because they, the people, will lose also. Being a cynic makes everything so easy.

Wendy said...

Jay, let me remind you that I am no fan of Islam. I was not excluding Muslims from my list because it seems that fact is up front and center without my listing it again.
How about wording??? "A terrorist group from the Middle East (or America depending on your viewpoint) has attacked the World Trade Center."
It is how the issue is presented. Perhaps we should say "Christians are involved in a war in Afghanistan".
Then there is your Bush/Mohamed comparison. Please don't compare the 21st century with the dark ages and Bush with a man who has been named a prophet. Next please ask yourself about the damage done during the Crusades and other religious wars plus the ones ongoing today with Sikhs, Hindus, Jews ... you name it.

I agree that the US will lose this war. They never learn their lessons. They put a puppet in place in a country they want something from and then are surprised when that puppet turns around and bites them in the proverbial butt.

oby said...

good grief! I thought I was done with this post.

Wendy...I disagree with you stating that "Christians are at war in Afghanistan". I disagree NOT because they aren't Christans...the majority are, but because they did not go to war on a religious premise . Either to wipe out Islam or promote Christianity. For America it was/is not a religious reason they are there. 9/11 was fueled by religion and martyrdom. There is a difference.

I agree that the USA won't win this war. There are too many moving parts and too many people who are willing to martyr themselves in Jihad precisely because they believe we are there to destroy islam and they have given our presence a religious reason that it never had. The supply of them will never end. IMO, money much better spent would have been take all the trillions spent on this war and invest it in the MOST kick ass, killer defense system that protects our borders, finds potential terrorism in our own country and intelligence that is able to seek out threats that are imminently harmful to rockets trained on our capital or nuclear threats that can actually reach us. Use it to build a defense system that is second to none. To chase jihadis in the ME is a stupid way of going about protecting oneself...there is a never ending supply and it will be the most direct route to bankruptcy for us.

I think the war was very poorly thought out and even more poorly executed and like two vicious dogs in a fight, the USA has gotten itself into a dogfight and is afraid to turn it's back for a second, lest the other side chew up it's butt. I personally think if it could get out with it's behind intact it would.

And it should mind it's own business and let the rest of the world handle their own problems. I'm tired of being a "super power" who has to get involved in everything...let China or India handle it for awhile! I'll gladly let them try to solve all the issues while maintaining their good name. The USA is long overdue to keep it's nose in it's backyard and let someone else handle the world's problems. As an American I'm done!

Wendy said...

Oby I was making a point which you obviously did not get. My point was there are Christians killing Afghans. There were Muslims who did some major damage in the USA.Many, including your government (and mine at times) called the shots and put a name on it (Islamic terrorists) rather than just admit there were some very bad guys who did the deed who happened to be Muslim and ever since that day the words war, Islam, terror, Islam, bad guys, Islam are used over and over and over again.
One might say that the push to control oil in the Middle East by waging little wars prior to 911, placing puppets into strategic ME countries, etc. was the beginning of this whole event/war. It's worse than your 'war on drugs' but not by much in some people's opinion but that's for another time I would guess.

Your government would be much better spending it's money on it's peoples and debt. You need better health care, education, and oh so many things but instead it goes to fuel a worthless endeavour. BTW, you already have a kick-ass defense system ... you don't need to build another one.

oby said...

Part 1:


I actually did get your point and I am not trying to disrespect it, I just don't agree with it. Here's why...

"One might say that the push to control oil in the Middle East by waging little wars prior to 911, placing puppets into strategic ME countries, etc. was the beginning of this whole event/war."

Not one might say...I think that is a major contributing factor and cannot be overlooked.

Yes our gov't, and yours and others put a name on it...but here is where I think we disagree. Those who are willing to die in planes aimed at buildings and those that are willing to blow themselves up at weddings and who will behead people, film it and post it and their suicide notes "for the glory of Allah" on the internet for all to see are those motivated by religion ultimately. While the taking of oil might be the impetus to make people angry, the match that ignites those actions is a passion for religion. I don't believe the guys who did 9/11 "happened to be" Muslims. They were groomed and were on a higher mission. And the thousands that follow them are on a mission motivated by faith.

Let me be very clear... just being angry that your oil is being taken does not make one an islamic terrorist. FAR from it...the majority of people, no matter how angry, will not take those actions.

About a year or two ago I saw a BBC production that was very eyeopening. A former jihadi Majiid Nawaz was interviewed. He was a British born Jihadi who was high up in the ranks for recruiting others like him in colleges in London. He was trained overseas in the terrorist camps...the whole 9 yards. At some point he turned his life around and abandoned jihad and decided that he would try to work for peace. ( I am giving you the abbreviated version of this to save space...I hope it is clear so far.)He formed the Quilliam foundation. One of the things he does is talk to youth who POTENTIALLY could become jihadis (there are several factors that need to line up in his opinion that put one at risk for becoming a jihadi). The other is he builds awareness in schools and colleges. This particular show showed him speaking to a room FULL of Muslim young men and women on a college campus. When he asked them why the USA was in Iraq and Afghanistan someone said "because the US hates Muslims and they are trying to destroy Islam starting with the Middle East". He asked how many agreed with this young woman...EVERY hand in the room went up. EVERY HAND. I was blown one said it is because the USA wants our oil, or they want to control our govts, or any number of other reasons. For these young people (who might have thought the other stuff was true too.) the PRIMARY reason is we are on a mission to destroy Islam.Where did they get that? Nawaz told them they are being lied to by their leaders in their mosques and other Muslims in authority who tell them this.

Nawaz went on to tell the people about the statistics in the USA (more than 1900 mosques and counting) and asked them if we were trying to destroy Islam would we allow Muslims to build mosques in the USA?They were surprised to know this fact. He told them (and rightly so) that the USA is not in the ME to destroy wants oil. It is an economic reason ...not a religious one. And he has got it is about economics...but these young people had been told by their mosques and leaders that the USA and the West is out to destroy Islam. It had spread like wild fire. He said once these kids believed that to be true they were willing to sacrifice their lives in jihad to please God...they weren't willing to sacrifice their lives for oil. So I do believe Islam/religion is a strong motivating factor.

oby said...

Part 2:

I also don't think Islam is the only religion capable of this. If all of a sudden Norwegians followed in the footsteps of that terrorist (I forgot his name) and declared like he did they were doing it for God to defend the world of Christianity don't you think that people would start to look a bit askance at Norwegians? would that make all Norwegians terrorists? No, But it might make some of those motivated strongly by a desire to protect Christianity to become terrorists and people would start to wonder "what the hell is wrong with those Norwegians?" if there was enough of it going on.

A prime example of that is the USA. Americans are routinely judged by the actions of it's govt. when in fact outside of electing people who they think would do a good job, they have little control if the govt. goes to war. They are hated the world over...and yet many many of them are good and caring people who would NEVER hurt anyone. An entire country is judged on the actions of a few. Is that right? No...but it happens...the same with Muslims. It is wrong that many Muslims have to take the heat for a few, but that is the way it goes unfortunately. Hopefully, people on both sides with remember that a few is not the majority.

You actually have more faith in my military than I do. LOL! Just because one has brute strength does not make one have a kick ass defense IMO. Hell, give China a few more years and they will have the money and population to outdo anyone.
No...what I mean is that to have a killer defense one not only needs weapons and muscle and power, one needs the knowledge and judiciousness of application of that force. If the CIA/FBI noncommunication was a major contributor to 9/11 then our firepower didn't help us at all, did it? Of course if you don't ascribe to that notion then that point is mute...but let's argue for a second that it was the case. All the firepower in the world was useless because the right hand didn't know what the left was doing. I don't mean we need MORE destructive equipment...what I meant was we need more and better communication systems both to monitor what is going on inside and outside (that might affect us). We need as many people as it takes to verify if scenarios like "WMD" is actually true. We need to be 1000% sure that if we are willing to go to the mat for a cause we have a secure knowledge or what we are talking about, great forethought of who it may affect and how we plan on getting out and helping them rebuild if need be.
Brute force does not make a military great...discretion, planning,knowing when to use it but MORE IMPORTANTLY knowing when not to use it and how to use it most effectively if you have to. Chasing terrorists around the planet IMO is the least efficient way of protecting oneself.Focusing on ourselves would serve us much better I think.

I KNOW that we have great brute force. Right after 9/11 my FIL called me to say he was sorry. I told him I was scared.He asked why. I said "I am afraid of what the USA is going to do in response." There was NO DOUBT in my mind that they would strike back with all the power that they had and THAT scared the hell out of me. We had just lost 3000 people and it was only 24 hours old and I was afraid of what my own govt. was going to rain down on "whoever" was guilty. Yes, we have plenty of brute force. But that is not what makes a military great IMO.

And yes that money would be better spent making our country strong from within...

Sorry I was so long winded...hope you are still awake! LOL!

Wendy said...

Oby, I agree with you on many points. I was trying to be brief with my comments because I have a short window before I have to go to work and hopefully this post will make sense as I am again in a rush.
I didn't mean that oil was the reason others dislike the USA but what the USA does to try and get a stronghold on oil is what makes people dislike the USA. Unfortunately when people dislike a government the people are included in that. I used oil only as symbol here for other things. Americans are judged by their government but they are also judged by what others see as a decadent lifestyle and people who are hungry, unemployed, uneducated and mentally off-balance can be coerced to do all sorts of things just like we've seen on a smaller scale as a result of strong religious beliefs of Christians or Sikhs. Muslim suicide bombers can be equated to the Japanese kamakazi pilots of WWII. Look what happened. The USA and Canada 'locked up' their own citizens of Japanese descent which accomplished absolutely nothing good. This is kinda the same but there are too many Muslims to round up so you keep the populations wondering whether or not every 'Mohamed' could be a potential bomber.
I can also agree about your military and defense to a degree. It will never be like China because the Chinese government will allow no dissension in it's ranks. Period. We all need to be concerned about the dragon.

oby said...


I wanted to share this with you because I think (maybe I am wrong) you might get a kick out of it. Maybe to a degree Canada feels the same about itself..don't know. But I thought this guy nailed a lot (not all) of what Americans, particularly older ones are feeling about today's situation...It came from a small Michigan newspaper letter to the editor.

What has America become?


Has American become the land of the double standard?

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work; we all support eh Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

-Ken Huber
Tawas City"

oby said...

I don't agree with all of what he writes but no matter on which side one stands the irony is rich...

Wendy said...

Oby ... that man has said it all. Just replace the words "Canada", "Canadians", "Prime Minister", "Parliament" in the appropriate spots. Seems that we are more alike than not. :)

So what are you thinking about Obama's stand on Palestine????

oby said...


I feel frustrated by the whole thing. Maybe because I am not a politician it seems to me the solution is not that tough,but I am simplifying it.

The Palestinians have been in limbo for far too long and it is clear they need a place to call home. On the other hand Israel sees itself as a Jewish state much as Saudi Arabia sees itself as a Muslim one...that is their identity. To ask them to forsake their identity as a Jewish state seems like asking a lot. Can you imagine KSA not self identifying as Muslim??? Be that as it may, if Palestinians can't live with that, then they need a country of their own. Having them as a member of the UN seems like a good starting place. However, I am not familiar what is required to do that..must one be a sovereign state before applying? If so that is a hurdle to overcome.

It boils down to this for me: If the Palestinians had accepted the 1967 offer they could have been well on their way to having a country by now. I think they were a bit shortsighted in that refusal. They were getting something like 95% of the land they had asked for weren't they? On the other hand I think Israel has not been fair at all in how they have treated them. Each side has their own POV and frankly, I think each side has some merits, but it has to be figured out.

As an parents watch Fox news and are worried about islamic extremism, but they are really in a twist about how the Palestinians have been treated and are totally for them getting a place of their own. I always thought that was interesting because those that watch Fox are thought of as mindless supporters of Israel. But I remember growing up and my parents talking about the plight of the Palestinians and perpetually being upset with Israel (and no they don't hate Jews...they just don't like injustice)So I guess it is possible to watch Fox news and be an independent thinker. LOL!

Wendy said...

I'll mark that one down in my books, Oby. ;) I will admit that I watch Bill Maher so often that my views are very jaded when it comes to Fox news. :D

oby said...

Hi Wendy:

I have read this blog from time to time and I thought it offered a very unique position on the Palestinian situation...from a Jewish perspective.

Aah I know what you are thinking...LOL! not so fast! These two guys are Jews living in NY and have a very interesting and pro stance toward Palestine. They love to skewer the USA on it's stance too.

I have not read all the posts but the ones I have read from time to time seem to offer some insights we don't always hear from a Jewish POV.

oby said...

There is little funny about 9/11. However, this article gave me a chuckle. Seems Al Qaeda is upset about conspiracy theories because it steals their thunder for 9/11. Too funny!


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