The Two September 11s

September 9, 2011 Michael Kaufman

Ten years ago the monsters who’d been nurtured by the United States in its covert war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan struck back with horrific vengeance against the American people. This is not to blame the US for the barbarous attack on the World Trade Center and the cold-blooded murder of so many people (however much one may disagree with US foreign policy), but it certainly reminds us that when you do all you can to create monsters, they seldom revert to benign human beings.

The attack was, as one commentator put it at the time, a gift by one conservative zealot (Osama Bin Laden) to another (George Bush). The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld trio used the momentum of the horror we all felt to ramp up a full-scale assault on democratic rights at home and abroad, to foal and fund a huge security industry, and to unleash two wars.

Those wars have costs hundreds of thousands of lives, most of them civilians. They have, literally, blown up much more than a trillion dollars and brought fabulous wealth to many military industries, including allied industries such as electronics and car manufacturers. For all that, these wars have not made our lives more safe – quite the opposite.

Meanwhile, torture, the suspension of basic democratic rights, and the disregard for the Geneva Convention, have become widely accepted, even unquestioned. The use of torture is now commonplace in the media, even in children’s movies.

The attacks, the confidence they gave to al-Qaeda and other Islamo-fascists, and the subsequent boost they got through the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, has led to the explosion of Islamophobia across North America and Europe.  Much of this reaction has been carefully orchestrated and funded by the right wing.  (See, “Fear Inc.” in The Nation.)

Those who have spoken up have been attacked without mercy. (Check out, for example, Michael Moore’s riveting account of the nine ex-Navy Seals who protected him and his family 24 hours a day.)

The Other September 11

Lest we forget, there was another terrorist attack on September 11. In 1973, the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by the Chilean military. Allende’s crime? He was a Marxist and a democratic socialist who had the temerity to think you could peacefully bring social justice to his nation.

Thousands of men and women – other Americans, this time from Latin America – from community groups, progressive church organizations, government bodies, and left-wing political parties were herded into torture camps, including the National Stadium in Santiago. Many were thrown by helicopters far out into the sea. Thousands were executed or were imprisoned for years.

Many in the Chilean military were trained in the use of torture at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Georgia, USA.

September 11, 2011

September 11 is, indeed, a day of right-wing terror, whatever religion the purveyors of these horrors may espouse.

September 11 must also be a day when we dedicate ourselves to speak out  against terror, against the belief that the end always justifies the means, against the belief that any of us has license to take the lives of others, and against the many brands of ultra-right ideology that seek to impose their stamp on the world.

And let this be a day not only of remembrance, but also of solidarity with the many Americans, whether in the US or Chile, along with so many others around the world, who are working so hard to create a world of diversity, respect, democratic and human rights, and social justice.

Note on update: In the original Sept 9 version of this blog, I was mistaken in attributing the reference, “a gift by one conservative zealot to another” to Carmen Schifellite.  It is my paraphrase of a statement by another commentator.