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The Lesson Of 9/11. September 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.

So now that we’ve all cried for the innocent lives lost here in America on September 11, 2001, cried every year for the past ten in fact, can we please, please  get around to thinking about what we’ve learned from that awful day?

Thank you.

We’ve learned that when we Americans are attacked from without, we pull together like a black hole, kick it into high gear, and do  something about it.  We come to each others’ rescue, risking life and limb to save strangers, putting our own well-being on the back burner and doing whatever we can to serve the greater good.

I’m really proud of that, and hold the real  heroes of 9/11, the people who put themselves in harms way by choice,  not by the necessity of circumstances, in a place of perpetual honor and respect.  The First Responders who that day rushed into infernos to save the lives of others, and in fact all the people who do that work on a daily basis, whether they pay the Ultimate  Price for it or not.  There aren’t adequate words to express my undying gratitude and respect for who you are and what you do for us all, so I’ll just say, “Thanks.”

But beyond that, the Lessons Learned become a bit muddled, with a great many Americans coming away with understandings which are fundamentally different from mine.

Many Americans believe that we’re the innocent victims of unprovoked acts of violence perpetrated by pathologically homicidal Brown People whose god tells them to hate us because we’re free.

Many Americans believe Islam is a religion of hatred.

Many Americans believe we should do whatever it takes  to keep ourselves safe, including putting our vaunted American liberties on hold, abandoning the basic tenets of our justice system and tearing up the international treaties which we ratified to ensure sanity and order in the diverse world in which we live.

Many Americans believe that everything will be fine if we just go shopping.

Well, My Fellow Americans, I’m not buying any of it.

The myth of American Exceptionalism has blinded so, so many of us to the sorry history of our Nation, since before we even were  a nation.  The smiling duplicity of offering gifts of blankets to the people who were here before us, blankets infected with smallpox.  “Take these gifts as a measure of our beneficence” and die, you filthy savages, so we can have your hilltop.   Andrew Jackson’s Ethnic Cleansing of a quarter of the continent with his forced-march Trail of Tears, wherein many thousands of old people and children died because God wanted us to assume Dominion over the land.   The kidnapping and enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans, the incineration of two cities’ worth of Japanese civilians even as their Emperor tried repeatedly to surrender to our military forces, the carpet-bombing and Agent Orange-ing of two million people  in Southeast Asia because we feared they would choose a system of government different from our own.

The not-so-subtle Corporate pillaging of resources and environmental devastation we’re visiting on the poorer countries of the world Every Fucking Day so we can live a life those people will never even dream of.

And we hold this truth to be self-evident: that we deserve whatever we can take from those who are weaker, and if they fight back, we’re the innocent victims.

People, it’s not our freedom  they hate.  Most of the world envies  our freedom.

What the hate is our sense of entitlement to their resources, our indifference to their suffering and blinding need, our support of the sociopathic dictators who rob and subjugate them, as long as they allow our corporate rape of their children’s futures for our personal comfort and gain.

What they hate is our military presence in every far-flung corner of the world, assuring that we’ll always get our way at their expense.

What they hate is our self-righteous certitude that Our God is Good and their god is bullshit.

My Fellow Americans, they hate us because they think we live in a Democracy,  and that We The People knowingly choose and approve of what our government and corporations do to them.

And who could blame them?  I mean, we claim  to live in a Democracy, don’t we?  We buy the fruits of their slave labor and pay them subsistence wages, don’t we?  We drill for their oil, despoil their land and water and give all of the profits to the despots who keep them barefoot and illiterate, don’t we?

If the shoe were on the other foot, I believe I’d hate us too.

The truth, my friends, is that beyond the age of 18, there are no Innocent Americans.   We The People, each and every one of us, is responsible for the policies of our government, the actions of our military and the unquenchable greed of our corporate creations.

The rest of the world, sadly, sees this much more clearly than we do, and has every right to hold us accountable.

It’s not that we Americans are individually evil, at least not most of us.  We love our children, care for our elderly (although I’m not particularly proud of the direction we’re going on that one,) and help our neighbors in times of need.  And we come together to help the poor of other countries in some significant and righteous ways.

But our per-capita generosity is outpaced by that of many smaller and less wealthy countries, and our Foreign Aid budget is insignificant when compared to our obscene military profligacy.

None of this is lost on the Have-Nots of the world, though it seems to be entirely invisible to us.

And when we hang Japanese soldiers for water-boarding, then claim the moral authority to do it ourselves, when we denounce Islamic Fundamentalism while debating which Christian Fundamentalist to elect President, when we don’t give a damn that our pollution is fouling the air and oceans, swamping low-lying countries and drying up the water supplies of billions of the world’s poor, the rest of the world’s people notice that as well.

And they take it kind of personally.

Which brings me back to September 11, 2001.  The murder of nearly three thousand Americans was a hideous act, as cruel and indiscriminate and morally wrong as any we Americans have perpetrated during the two plus centuries of our existence.  But being willfully ignorant of our crushing footprint on the world’s poor doesn’t exonerate us from responsibility for it, and our indifference to the suffering which results from our greed cannot be morally justified.  Without some serious introspection and a significant change of course, we should expect to suffer the consequences of our actions over and over and over again.

This is an old lesson, much older than the events of September 11, 2001, older even than the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

One might hope we would have learned it by now.





1. eileen - September 14, 2011

I hope this brightens your day some:

I don’t know where to donate for her. I’ll send a link for that when I find one.

I hope she runs the hell out of this campaign. She can’t afford to be a Harvard professor. Folks will turn away.

We need more people like her.

2. Noodlee Poodlee - September 14, 2011

Hi CR. Could only skim this as mom back in hospital and off to nursing facility soon … but, once again, AMEN Brother. Truth to Power and Truth to Blind Ignorance … I’m not sure which is worse at listening.

3. Paul in ABQ - September 14, 2011

Excellent articulation, CR. Thank you.

4. littlebangtheory - September 14, 2011

eileen, thanks for that video clip. Elizabeth Warren has the potential to be a true champion of the people, and I’m entirely on her page. I just hope she can grow the claws and armor necessary to take on the Corporate Beasts she’s provoking. And though I haven’t heard her talk about Foreign Policy, I trust her intellect and compassion to steer her in a direction which I’ll agree with.

BTW, you can donate in a snap at ElizabethWarren.com. She and Bernie Sanders are getting every dime I commit to the coming elections.

NP, so sorry to hear about your Mom. My thoughts and raggedy prayers are wafting her way.

Willful Ignorance is the Eighth Deadly Sin, or at least I think it ought to be. I have no patience for people who don’t know what they’re talking about, but nonetheless insist on trying to run my life and my Country.

Paul, thanks. I’m struggling mightily with my thoughts, like I’m trying to untangle a thousand feet of rope with the ends spliced together (an old Navy prank!) Somehow this occasion motivated me to try extra hard, and though it took me three nights of writing and trashing and rewriting, it sort-of came together, though it’s not as well structured as it would have been in The Old Days.

5. Chris - September 15, 2011

Your hypocrisy is unbelievable, to think that you are actually justifying the idea that those attacks were brought on by our own actions. Other countries do hate us, but it’s not because, as you say, we pillage and burn, but because we are free. And unlike your notion that we can live harmoniously, freedom is not free, and war will always surround us.

Let’s say for instance that we just pulled all American military and social influence out of foreign countries tomorrow, do you honestly think we would be safe? Listen up pal, if we don’t bring war somewhere else, war will find us here, and are you going to stand and fight you pansy?

Your corporate monstors bullshit is such mundane rhetoric it makes me want to vomit? How did you write this blog? Oh yeah, that’s right, on a fucking computer. So while your off writing your diatribes about how evil corporate America is why don’t you look around yourself. That computer you type on, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, all manufactured and produced by corporations. It’s the American dream, the pursuit of happiness. Not all of us can be wealthy, but all of us can try. Corporations create jobs and if you liberal ass holes would stop complainig about the millions CEO’s get for being SMART, and HARDWORKING individuals, maybe we could unify as a genuine country. What is there to pursue if not success? Your life of comfort would not exist if currency was not invested in the companies you unwillingly support. Wake up.

heubler - September 16, 2011

It is just such bombastic hyperventilation, that caused us to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attack on us.

How much more do they “hate our freedoms” for that little f*ck-up?

Which country do you suggest we invade, so we’re not attacked here? And will that country really be worthy of invasion, remembering the Iraq mistake? What if we get it wrong again? More freedom haters?

thomas - September 16, 2011

my fellow american, you are sadly mistaken.
we have been the bully of the world for the last 100 years, which is bad enough but the rank hypocrisy of our public persona is just too much!!.
we have attacked or invaded more countries in the last century than everyone else put together.
we have killed more people around the world in the name of freedom than the dictators have !!!
I was one of the Americans that that attacked viet nam and dropped bombs on people that had never done a thing to america. compared to the 5000 people killed in the towers how many innocent vietnamise, cambodian and Thailand women and children do you think we killed with the carpet bombing?
hundreds of thousands if not millions.
we have been a force of evil in this world that is why we are hated. we need to stop being greedy thieves and act like there is a god , as thomas jefferson said “i fear for my country when i think about god in haven”

eve fromm - September 16, 2011

You are dumb.

6. littlebangtheory - September 16, 2011

Welcome to my blogworld, Chris.

Have some more cool-aid.

eve fromm - September 16, 2011

Word! Who’s blog did he think he was at?Chris why are you even on this blog?troll.You probably believe that you are smarter and super Hardworking,and cleaner and better and have more Facebook friends and …

7. John S - September 16, 2011

Perfect !

8. Phil - September 16, 2011

“The murder of nearly three thousand Americans was a hideous act, as cruel and indiscriminate and morally wrong as any we Americans have perpetrated during the two plus centuries of our existence.”

No, it isn’t. It’s horrible, but it’s not even close to many of the examples in your own post. The 9/11 attacks were horrible but nowhere near as horrible as the criminally disproportionate response.

9. Nangleator - September 16, 2011

I’m a bit fascinated by the revulsion that people like Chris have to the notion that terrorists sometimes have actual motivations, instead of being the comic book villains that the Right imagines. Their patriotism is so weak they must imagine that no one hates them for any justified reason.

They must also boldly stand in defense of all corporations, thinking all of capitalism is under attack when the evil acts of some corporations are discovered.

They don’t hate us for our freedoms. They hate us for our stupidity.

10. Post Pimping « Pass The Doucheys on the Right-Hand Side - September 16, 2011

[…] ) posted a  post-9/11 analysis that is nothing short of brilliant. Little Bang Theory’s TheLesson of 9/11  is a brilliant piece of writing that lays bare some hard truths that many just […]

11. dcmartin - September 16, 2011

The “They hate us for our freedoms” line was the perfect PR point for selling the bogus Iraq invasion, and jingoists like Chris are STILL buying into it. The movie “The Kingdom” lays out a simple history lesson in the opening credits that most people are ignorant of, or if they DO know it, they choose to disregard it. It’s much easier to justify your actions when you relegate the bad guys to mustache-twirling cartoons without any historical context. It’s a sad person who has no use for context and history, only party talking points.

12. thomas - September 16, 2011

you gave Chris credit for being a jingoist, i would classify him and his ilk as damn fools, at best.

13. Joe Milwarde - September 16, 2011

Surely ‘they’ do now hate us, and, as you point out, with good reason. But I think it’s actually worse than that.

All available physical evidence points overwhelmingly to controlled demolition as the cause for the destruction of three high rise buildings at the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001. It’s hard to wrap your head around that – at least it was for me, but once achieved, the inevitable conclusion that ‘they’ couldn’t have done 9/11 follows.

If past experience is any guide, the usual boatload of castigation that might now be launched in my direction will probably consist of coarse ad hominem insults. The rest will be speculative remarks to the effect that somebody would have squealed by now, because “it’s just too big”, and related sentiments.

But while speculation and belief serve to raise interesting questions, they are irrelevant to a forensic investigation; what counts in a forensic investigation is evidence.

The official report ignores vast amounts of evidence including numerous eye witness accounts of explosions on that day and observations of molten steel in the debris for several weeks afterwards. The official account was not based on an honest scientific investigation.

14. marknesop - September 16, 2011

Plenty of other countries are a great deal more free than the United States of America. Sweden, for instance, or Finland – both enjoy much higher standards of personal freedom than does America. Does it also follow, then, that they are the target of bottomless hatred from the rest of the world? I’m talking to you, Chris. That’s right; not so you’d notice, at least not as measured by terrorist attacks and bitter newspaper articles. So the “they hate us for our freedom” argument is pretty weak on analysis, isn’t it?

“That computer you type on, the clothes you wear, the car you drive – all manufactured by corporations”…and most of them in China or outside the USA. You’re confusing “corporatism” with “manufacturing”, Chris – the USA abdicated the manufacturing business back when companies began to be rewarded with fat bonuses to their executives for laying off their American workers and shifting their operations overseas: “downsizing”, they called it, and by the time people began to realize that catchy buzzword meant less jobs for Americans, the American manufacturing sector had all but disappeared.

Did you know about a third of your foreign aid budget goes to Israel, Chris? A wealthy country in its own right, most of that money goes right back to American defense contractors, in exchange for the most sophisticated weaponry American money can buy for the Israeli Defence Forces. That generosity helps Israel in its role as regional bully, while Israel would have to negotiate with its neighbours if it were not able to thumb its nose at them from behind Uncle Sam’s coattails.

Nangleator - September 16, 2011

Oops, marknesop! You know any criticism of Israeli policy gets you labeled antisemitic by Chris’s crowd, right?

Chris hates the Swedes because of their freedoms!

Dirk - September 16, 2011

Bin Laden mentioned Sweden in one of his videos:
“Security is an important pillar of human life. Free people do not relinquish their security. This is contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom.
Let him tell us why we did not strike Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have proud souls, like the souls of the 19 people [killed while perpetrating the 11 September 2001 attacks], may God have mercy on them.
We fought you because we are free and do not accept injustice.”

15. littlebangtheory - September 16, 2011

Welcome Everyone, and thanks for commenting. Many points well made, some which beg further discussion, but I’m really tied up this evening, so I’ll have to whittle away at them over the next few days.

I knew expressing this critical view of the public goings-on surrounding the 9/11 anniversary might generate some retributive scorn, but felt it had to be said (I’ve since seen several other blog posts expressing similar sentiments, for which I am grateful.) I’m just surprised to not have been inundated with more right-wingnuttery!

Guess I’ll have to keep posting my “unAmerican” thoughts. 😉

16. Chris - September 16, 2011

Look, if you all disagree with “American” tradition, why don’t you leave? We are a capitalist economy, and we will always defend our own, so if you don’t want to be one, see you later

17. littlebangtheory - September 16, 2011

Dirk, that quote from Bin Laden sheds light on his motivations and belies the party line about “hating freedom.” That’s not to in any way exonerate him for his acts, but when someone proudly tells you their motive for a crime, it’s generally admissible in court. Just sayin’.

Chris, I love my Country, its Constitution and, above all, the Bill of Rights (my favorite amendments are the First and Ninth.) I reject your implied assertion that military and economic subjugation of other peoples is an inherently American set of values, mostly because I see the potential for something much more noble in us.

I’m not religious, but I can’t think of a finer example of strength through compassion than Jesus of Nazareth (or at least the image of him which comes down to us through the centuries-later writings of those who claim some insight into his existence.) He was a Man of Peace, and I recall only one instance in Scripture where he raised a hand in anger; that was when he went Postal on the Money Changers in the Temple. The modern-day equivalence to those people is, in my mind, the “investment bankers” and short-sellers who make nothing, build nothing, grow nothing – they just handle other people’s money and take a BIG chunk of it. If Jesus came back today, I bet he would bitch-slap their asses back to hell where they belong.

And as for leaving, I’m not going anywhere. I have two daughters who deserve a chance at a better world, not one dominated by the greed and avarice of the Filthy Fucking Rich and the dim-witted, self fucking brown-shirt rubes who do their bidding. I’m going to stand and fight for my vision of a compassionate world where those with more actually give a shit about those with less, and not leave my kids’ (and yours) futures in the hands of people whose better judgement leads them to eat Deep Fried Butter on a Stick.

A rising tide does indeed lift all boats, except those which have had holes blown in them and those chained to the bottom. But the tide doesn’t come in from high ground – it starts at the bottom and spreads upward.

Jesus hung with the Peeps at the bottom; you’re defending the Peeps at the top.

I may have to write an entire post about this. Thanks for the prompt!


18. marknesop - September 17, 2011

Chris, it’s painfully apparent you don’t know the first thing about your economy. Paul Krugman, Yale-and-MIT-educated economist, does; so I’ll let him tell you where America is headed in its current political configuration:

“Modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the ‘common hazards of life’ through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Are voters ready to embrace such a radical rejection of the kind of America we’ve all grown up in? I guess we’ll find out next year.”

Get it? The “capitalist economy” put you where you are now – I invite you to compare economic conditions between past Democratic and Republican administrations; you’ll find Republicans have consistently run up the tab as fast as (sometimes faster than) Democrats could pay it down. Corporate greed and creeping deregulation joined hands to sack the middle class. Now one half of the government would rather hurt America in order to better its chances in the next election than let the other half fix it. And if they’re successful, they have absolutely no plan to fix it themselves except more tax cuts for the wealthy and grim austerity for the rest. The USA has been living beyond its means for quite awhile now, but Bush and his gang accelerated the destructive process to escape velocity.

“If you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?” is such a juvenile argument. Why should objection to the way the country is being held to ransom by the minority be grounds for immediate departure? Is that what made America great? “This sucks, guys – see you in France, or Canada, or whatever”. If you bought a car in Culpepper and the whole front end went out from under it a week later, would you leave town to punish the dealership for selling you a piece of crap? Of course not – you’d have it towed back on their dime and tell them it better be fixed without any cost to you, because you bought it in good faith based on what you were told. How is this different? Americans believed the government could be trusted with the economy, because that’s the mandate they asked for when they were voted in. Now it’s broken. Everyone who doesn’t like that should leave? Please.

19. littlebangtheory - September 17, 2011

marknesop, Well said (with a little help from Paul K.) But you discredited your own argument by mentioning that Paul is educated. The Scarlet “E” brands him as a Commie Elitist / Yankee Lib’ral, who (by definition) hates America and lies through his teeth because he wants to destroy it.

It’s much easier for Tea Partiers / Radical Right Republicans to wrap their minds around the simple stories in The Bible and the black&white dichotomies proffered by right-wing think tank linguists in service of the FFR* than to try to get them to understand the intricacies of global climate/economic/social webs.

The Right’s elevation of ignorance to the status of Core American Value is yet another topic for a post – you folks are gonna keep me busy!

( *Filthy Fucking Rich )

20. thomas - September 17, 2011

unfortunately, your are 100% right

21. thomas - September 17, 2011

excellent rejoinder

22. littlebangtheory - September 17, 2011

Hey, I’m just a conduit for truth, and Truth is always excellent.

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