An Inclusive Litany


From a symposium of novelists and essayists (a.k.a. "griots, teachers, and critics") on the question of how to respond to the terrorist attacks, organized by Rachel Neumann and eventually published in the Village Voice, October 9, 2001:

Isabel Allende, author of Portrait in Sepia:
A massive Marshall Plan for the third world is required to help diminish the gap between rich and poor. The "gated community" mentality will not keep the underprivileged subdued and invisible.

Howard Zinn, author of The People's History of the United States:
Treat this as if a criminal is taking refuge in a neighborhood of poor, desperate people who will not give him away. Try to apprehend the evil one. Don't bomb the neighborhood, but clean it up with food, jobs, good housing, and health care, in order to get at the root of terrorism and eliminate the pool of desperation from which terrorists are recruited.

Eduardo Galeano, author of Upside Down:
In the battle of Good versus Evil, it is always the common people who fill the graves. Contempt for the popular will is one of the many common threads between state terrorism and private terrorism. In Porto Alegre, at the beginning of the year, the Algerian revolutionary leader Ahmed Ben Bella warned, "This system, which has already made the cows mad, is driving the people mad." And the madmen, mad with hate, act exactly the same as the power that produces them.

Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist and author of Subject to Debate:
What if the U.S. offered to lift nonmilitary sanctions on Iraq in return for Osama bin Laden, who would be tried at the international criminal court? As for Afghanistan, perhaps the most miserable place on earth at the moment, the government should take the money it would spend on bombs and soldiers and use half of it to help the wretched Afghan people and support those among them who favor democracy, human rights—especially women's rights and ethnic cooperation—and the other half to Pakistan in return for withdrawing its support for the Taliban.

Robin D.G. Kelley, history professor, NYU, and coauthor of Three Strikes:
In 1932, a group of French and Caribbean Surrealists got together and wrote a brief called "Murderous Humanitarianism," vowing to change "the imperialist war, in its chronic and colonial form, into a civil war." I say the same thing: We need a civil war, class war, whatever, to put an end to U.S. policies that endanger all of us. Imagine a U.S. foreign policy committed to real democracy in the world, ending poverty with no strings attached or profit motive, respecting Islamic concerns regarding Western occupation of sacred land. Rather than beat up a whole nation, we could identify and isolate those directly responsible and bring them to trial and, as we should have done with the Confederate South, make them liable for damages by seizing assets.

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed:
I don't know how you wage war against one person; it doesn't make sense. I can imagine a commando-type raid to capture Bin Laden, then a trial, with evidence, before the world court. But that would not address the vast global inequalities in which terrorism is ultimately rooted. What is so heartbreaking to me as a feminist is that the strongest response to corporate globalization and U.S. military domination is based on such a violent and misogynist ideology.

Alice Walker, novelist:
In a war on Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden will either be left alive, while thousands of impoverished, frightened people are bombed into oblivion around him, or he will be killed in a bombing attack for which he seems quite prepared. But what would happen to his cool armor if he could be reminded of all the good, nonviolent things he has done? Further, what would happen to him if he could be brought to understand the preciousness of the lives he has destroyed? I firmly believe the only punishment that works is love.

Noam Chomsky, linguistics professor, MIT:
When the U.S. launched a murderous terrorist war against Nicaragua, Nicaragua did not set off bombs in Washington but took the matter to the World Court, which ordered the U.S. to cease its "unlawful use of force" and to pay substantial reparations. The U.S. responded by escalating the terrorist attack. Nicaragua approached the Security Council, which called on all states to observe international law (vetoed by the U.S.), and then went to the General Assembly, which passed a similar resolution (again vetoed by the U.S.). No one will stop the U.S. if it follows the procedures that it blocked in the case of Nicaragua.

Raghida Dergham, senior diplomatic correspondent, Al-Hayat:
For this global struggle against terrorism to succeed, it needs to be deep and thorough not broad and shallow. The administration must dare to tell Israel it has to end its settlements and occupation. The Arab and Islamic world must self-examine and recognize the need for democratic processes. The American public needs to learn foreign policy, not only to know the enemy, but to learn about the world as the U.S. shapes up new bilateral, regional, and global relations.

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo:
The left needs to reject, once and for all, the label "anti-globalization." As Bush forces the world to join America's war, sidelining the United Nations and the international courts, we need to become passionate defenders of true multilateralism. What we are seeing is not a global response to terrorism but the internationalization of one country's foreign policy objectives. This is the trademark of U.S. international relations, from the WTO negotiating table to Kyoto. We can make these connections not as "anti-Americans" but as true internationalists.

Rabbi Robert J. Marx, president of National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice:
How can we declare to the nations of the world that they are either for us or against us, while we demonstrate our contempt for the world by greedily devouring its resources, by refusing to join the Kyoto Environmental Pact, by rejecting the 1972 ban on biological weapons, and by refusing to join the world court. Above all, we need to begin to feel that we are part of the world, until now we have been spared its pain. Now we need to share its sacrifice.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and author of Anger:
Face what you think is the cause of your suffering and say: I know you must have suffered a lot in order to have done such a thing to us. Have we contributed to your suffering? If you say this sincerely, it is not a lack of courage but a courageous act.

Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story:
A military strike? Where? What? When? Above all, against whom? If you hit them in Iraq, they'll re-group in Libya. if you squash them in Libya, they'll rise up in Afghanistan. They have struck us, and in their strike announced: We'd rather die—and take you with us—than go on living in the world you have forced us to occupy. Force will get us nowhere. It is reparations that are owing, not retribution.

Danny Hoch, actor:
If the U.S. attacks another nation, we are guaranteed the murder of millions on U.S. soil. I know people that were killed on 9-11 and I am crushed. But I hold the U.S. government responsible, not the Arab world. Stop terrorism, save lives, stop pillaging the world, you supposedly elected f***ing assholes. Guaranteed to work or your money back.

Bernardine Dohrn, director of the Children and Family Justice Center [and former leader of the terrorist Weather Underground]:
Nothing justifies the unspeakable attack against human beings. And if our rejection of terrorism encompasses all forms—individual, group, and official—we are obliged, even amid tidal waves of sorrow and solidarity, fury and fear, to openly reckon with U.S. interventions, tyranny, and terror. No aggrandizement of American power will yield safety or security. We need to strengthen our longings for peace and our active resistance to xenophobia. Can we choose to share our fate with other peoples on the uneasy terrain where equity and justice are the only possible paths to peace?

Suheir Hammad, poet:
Before any military action is ever taken anywhere, all citizens of the world will recite the pledge below:
Me, I pledge my allegiance
to the love of all of humanity
and to the aspirations we all share
one species
one blood
one love
one destiny
one love
one destiny
under all manifestations of god
with liberty and
medicine and shelter and
food and self-determination and freedom of religion and freedom of expression and freedom of movement and love and justice
for all.


Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things, in the Guardian, September 29, 2001:
[Osama bin Laden] is nothing more the American president's dark doppelganger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilized. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance," its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think.


A few of the readers of the Boston Globe demonstrate that at least for them, life goes on with little change. Letter to the editor, September 12, 2001:
The United States has long bombed, invaded, and subverted the governments of other countries. Now someone has done it to us. I'm not happy about this, but neither am I surprised.

—Bryce Nesbitt

Another letter from September 13:
Nothing in the world can ever justify what was done to America on Tuesday. However, as an American historian, I respectfully urge the media to stop using the word "terrorist."

The word "savage" was once used to dehumanize Indians to deny that Native Americans had any rational motives for their attacks on European colonies, whose "innocent" men, women, and children were annihilating peoples and cultures older than Europe itself.

We should also recall America's shock during the 1968 Tet offensive, when we suddenly found Viet Cong guerillas in the US Embassy in Saigon, right under the noses of an overconfident US military, which could have been predicted had the United States come out of its ethnocentric cocoon of assumptions and actually looked and listened to the Vietnamese.

The word "terrorist," like "savage," and like President Bush's use of the word "faceless" for these attackers, erases the possibility of understanding why these attacks came about, and helps ensure that we will be caught in an endless cycle of retribution.

Criminal as Tuesday's acts were, they were perpetuated by human beings, in response to US policies and the Bush administration's lack of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Mideast crisis. Calling Americans "victims" may make us feel better, but it is only half the story of why this happened.

—Jack Dempsey

[Ed.: The hijackers had, of course, initiated their plans years before Bush became president. Presumably, the previous bombing of the World Trade Center, the U.S.S. Cole, American troops at Riyadh, and two African embassies could be blamed on a similar foreign policy lapse by the Clinton administration. Also, the self-described historian fails to dwell on the fact that the South Vietnam-based Viet Cong guerillas were slaughtered en masse by the North Vietnamese following the latter's military victory over the United States and the South Vietnamese government. Antiwar protestors of the era insisted that the Viet Cong represented an indigenous popular movement in the South, and were not simply puppets of the North.]

Here's another letter from the same day:

The first reaction of both my lovable, but rather right-wing brother in Virginia and father in Texas, both Army colonels, to Tuesday's horrendous events was, "Well, now it's time to take off the kid gloves and get tough with these terrorists!" It's exactly that one-track mindset that got us into this mess. We must take these four actions now:

  • Identify and find and punish the terrorist groups and financial backers responsible. Beef up US airport and airline security.

  • Sincerely apologize to the world community for all crimes committed by the United States in the 20th century in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

  • Get our so-called "President" Bush and his sycophants off their collective behinds to become actively engaged in the Middle East and elsewhere to really resolve pressing political problems and to quit thumbing their noses at the world community while the United States does nothing about the environment. If he doesn't make major headway in the next 30 days, impeach him.

  • Drop the American 20th century mindset that "the end justifies the means." And while we're at it, read Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Edward S. Herman who clearly explain how we dug ourselves into this hole and how we can get out!

Only then will the United States cease to be at the center of the bull's-eye and will be able to proudly rejoin the community of man. Until that glorious day, we must all watch our backs, stay clear of identifiable landmarks, and avoid the "friendly skies."

Pull your heads out of the sand, folks. Demand that your government start doing its job. Break your silence! Evolve now or revert to the stone age.

—Edward M. Fergusson

[Ed.: Elsewhere Chomsky asserts that the attack on Manhattan may not have been as bad as the Clinton administration's destruction of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Before taking on the somewhat more palatable causes of the Sandinistas and Palestinians, Chomsky achieved notoriety during the 1970s for his tortuous defense of the communist Khmer Rouge regime, which was in the process of killing large numbers of Cambodians, ultimately over 1 million.]

September 17:

A great tragedy has befallen the United States and, in fact, all humanity. We should mourn the loss of life, and do what we can to give solace to the survivors. We must recognize, however, that there have been many signals that such an event would occur. We live in a violent world, including our own country.

We propagate foreign policy on the basis of what the other country can do for us, for example, supplying oil and other commodities that we consumer way beyond prudent levels of need. In short, we are an arrogant country that has confused democracy with a free-enterprise system so that the most important feature of our national life is the bottom line.

We are the most powerful nation on Earth, but might does not make right, nor does our arsenal of devastating weaponry protect against stealth attack.

Despite enormous shortcomings, we have within us, along with our fellow human beings around the world, the capability to rise above the most base aspects of human existence. We need to identify problems, as Derrick Jackson wrote with rare insight ("For America, a dose of reality," op ed, Sept 12), and show restraint as Lawrence Korb suggested ("US musty realize that there are no quick-fixes," op ed, Sept 13). The future is not bleak if we work toward solutions, instead of retribution. The future is chaos and ruin if we do not.

—Anthony J. Palmer

Another from September 17:
Unquestionably, the perpetrators of Tuesday's horrific acts of terrorism must be hunted down and brought to justice. However, that in itself will do little to protect us against future attacks.

There is a major step we can take to promote peace in the world, and to reduce the risk of terrorism. We can begin to adopt a multicultural attitude. We can try to look past our own DVD and SUV culture and see that there are other cultures in the world that are just as legitimate, and which have long, honorable histories.

We should not condone any form of terrorism, but these acts are invariably the result of a sense of rage and powerlessness, just as road rage and the Rodney King riots were the results of powerlessness.

We must begin to see ourselves as but one of many cultures and nations that exist on this planet, and to respect and genuinely value other societies, both within and outside the United States. Only then will other countries regard us as team players, and not simply as the ones holding the ball at the moment.

—Peter Davis

September 21:
I am upset by the nation's militaristic reaction to this tragedy. It is unhealthy that Americans so earnestly believe in one version of morality with little ability to synthesize other points of view.

We turn one blind eye to our faults as cohabitants of this planet—overconsumption, pollution, concentration of wealth and well-being, intervention (or not) in others' affairs only as they affect our interests—and turn the other blazing, eagle-sharp eye to retribution and mass destruction. Even our religions offer blessings to our leader in his "crusade" to punish.

I thank Derrick Z. Jackson for standing against the nationalist tide and focusing on how our way of life, which perpetuates the suffering of so many others, is one of the causes of hatred (op ed, Sept. 19)....

—Allison Lund

[Ed.: In an op-ed on the same day, Jackson places blame for the terrorist attack squarely on America's military support of Israel. It seems Israelis are overall much better-armed than Palestinians, a "gap" that needs to be redressed if we are to avoid future attacks.]

September 23:

President Bush's speech was eloquent and powerfully delivered, but he said all the wrong things. I wish he had declared war on the poverty and injustice that sow the seeds of terrorism. We ignore their needs at our peril.

—Elaine Gottlieb

September 24 [my favorite]:

The article "Children need time to cope with trauma" (Page C1, Sept. 20) gives useful advice for parents concerned about children's play that turns violent. When a 10-year-old child builds a "death trap" for Osama bin Laden out of Lego blocks, psychologist James Garbarino suggests that a parent "march [an] action figure into the structure, arrest Osama bin Laden, and announce, "I'm taking him back to stand trial!' "

Can we ask James Garbarino to give President Bush a couple of hours of play therapy?

—Judith Ryan

September 26:
In the article "Mulling options in fight to save economy" (Page C1, Sept. 24), Senator John Kerry was reported to have said the best thing people could do for their country was to go out to dinner or buy a couch or a car. Shame on Kerry for perpetuating the American consumerist mentality in the face of potential economic contraction. Is whipping out the credit card to buy products manufactured in developing countries under undisclosed labor practices really the best we can do?

What about taking a look at our relative prosperity even in an economic downturn and making do with a little less? What about figuring out how we can be good global citizens and not just exploitive global marketers? Shopping is not the best we can do; we can do much better.

—Lorena Kreda

September 28:
Is it my imagination or are gas guzzling SUVs now adorned with the most American flags? Do they have the most patriotic drivers? Or, if I may be facetious, is it because they have a quarter-of-an-acre of steel and glass on which to display them?

It's also my observation that many drivers of these four-wheeled juggernauts are also some of the rudest people on the road. And when they selfishly fill up at a gas station, the look of utter disgust on their faces is pathetic, especially after they have paid more than $40 for 25 gallons of gasoline.

They may be super patriots in regard to Old Glory, but they could do America a much greater favor by driving their rolling monstrosities to the nearby junkyard and selling them for scrap metal. Surely, with the world in a war-like condition, it won't be long before mandatory restrictions on gasoline consumption will force them to do so. A gas-hungry SUV won't be worth a pound of belly-button lint as far as personal transportation is concerned.

—Donald Mills
South Boston

David P. Barash, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, in a symposium in the Chronicle of Higher Education, September 28, 2001:
The "need" for retaliation is bruited about, such that it seems beyond question, although an evolutionary and "human nature" perspective would ask why such a need exists, and whether it is truly justified, or likely to be counterproductive. If it is human nature to seek revenge, then it seems that an equally human nature motivated the perpetrators, who perceive themselves to be seeking revenge. If the United States, in its righteous anger, will "make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them"—in the words of President Bush—then, in view of the fact that many people consider the United States to be a terrorist state, weren't the perpetrators following just such a policy in attacking innocent civilians—making no distinction between their view of the terrorists (our government, our country) and those who harbor them (ourselves)?


Novelist Barbara Kingsolver in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, September 27, 2001:
Patriotism threatens free speech with death. It is infuriated by thoughtful hesitation, constructive criticism of our leaders and pleas for peace. It despises people of foreign birth. It has specifically blamed homosexuals, feminists and the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder. Whom are we calling terrorists here?

From the newsletter of ActForChange, a group that facilitates various "activism opportunities" for progressive social change, September 27, 2001:
We have even located a way to contact the only accessible public representative of the Taliban! ... It remains important to let decision-makers know that we are engaged in civic life and attentive to the responses being made on behalf of the American people... Please consider the following actions... Tell the Taliban What You Think. The Taliban has been roundly condemned in the international community for providing a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and other known terrorists in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centers [sic] and the Pentagon. If you wish to send a message to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, calling on the group to turn over bin Laden and ease the oppression of women and relief workers in Afghanistan, ActForChange will print out your e-mail and mail or fax it to him.

Another editorial cartoonist, Ted Rall, displaying his other talent as essayist in the Philadelphia City Paper, September 27, 2001:
We've been treated to some astonishingly vile images over the last two weeks: Office workers hurling themselves into a 100-floor-high abyss. A gaping, smouldering hole in the financial center of our greatest city. George W. Bush passing himself off as a patriot, even as he disassembles the Constitution with the voracious glee of a pirahna skeletonizing a cow.... It may have seemed meaningless at the time, but now we know why 7,000 people sacrificed their lives: So that we'd all forget how Bush stole a presidential election.


Following the September 11 attacks, the New York City Board of Education recommended various web sites for teachers to use in their curriculum, none of which provided any information on Islamic extremism or Osama bin Laden, and most of which were geared towards promoting tolerance and mental health. The only four sites listed under "Social Studies" and "Government" were on the order of ePALS, which provides "e-mail exchange opportunities to promote understanding."

The National Association of School Psychologists, for its part, recommended on its website that teachers "discuss historical instances of American intolerance" and "Identify 'heroes' of varying backgrounds involved in response to the attacks." When dealing with indignant students who voice a desire for military reprisals, teachers should keep in mind the following: "A natural reaction to horrific acts of violence like the recent terrorist attacks on the United States is the desire to lash out and punish the perpetrators.... People who are angry or frightened often feel that the ability to fight back puts them more in control or will alleviate their sense of pain."

A Rhode Island high schooler told the New York Times how the events of September 11 had been addressed in his classes: "In class they keep on saying that the bigger person is the one who walks away from the fight, the one who wants peace. How many people do we have to kill to make Americans feel better? Some of these politicians who want war are acting younger than we are."

Alternative-art maven Neva Chonin in the San Francisco Chronicle, September 25, 2001
Two weeks after the bombings in New York and Washington, DC, the projected casualty figures keep rising. Not all the victims are human beings: As grief passes and xenophobia increases, the American flag is covering—literally, in some cases—other symbols of this country's diverse cultural geography.

Old Glory wallpapers Mission District nightclubs, North Beach sex stores and Haight Street head shops. It decorates "alternative" clothing outlets; it hangs in the windows of tattooing and piercing parlors. You know there's been a radical shift when even the guy doing tongue piercings is humming "God Bless America" and alterna-chicks are getting flag tattoos to match their red, white and blue hair.

This altered physical landscape reflects the sociopolitical one: Where once there were many national narratives, these days there is only one. It begins with "God" and ends with "America."

San Francisco art critic Glen Helfand tells me that under the freeways near his South of Market office, "where Andre the Giant and faux political posters used to be," he now sees only "row on row of wheat-pasted American flags" with a heavily punctuated "Indivisible!!!" emblazoned across the bottom.

"It's an immediate sea change," he says. "Someone is appropriating this outlaw space and turning it into a patriotic space. Where once there was ambivalence, there's now a monolithic quality, and there's no resistance to the symbolism. What does it mean to put up the flag? What are people trying to say?"

For many, the flag began as a gesture of solidarity with the bombing victims and a visual expression of national mourning, defiance and pride. This is changing, and the flag has increasingly come to reflect a more chauvinistic "Go, Team!" sentiment. It's as if Sept. 11 transformed our country into a giant sports stadium where the War Against Terrorism is trying for a first down....

What's needed is a new symbol for those who want to express both national diversity and national solidarity, but not national chauvinism. Our alternative arts culture could provide one, if it can dig itself out of the Sept. 11 ashes and find its voice again.

Kevin Lourie, anthropology professor at Brown University Medical School, in an op-ed distributed by the Brown University Press Service, September 25, 2001:
It will take a year to remove the rubble, but the smoke will never entirely clear, no matter how boldly we face the challenges of domestic vulnerability or how great our resolve. In theory, this war can end only to the extent that we relinquish our role as world leader, overhaul our lifestyle and achieve political neutrality....

Perhaps our best options now are to search for the origins of this new war, draw strength from understanding our own weaknesses, and make changes within ourselves and within our relationships to others. Many wonder if we are paying an accumulated debt for centuries of dominance and intervention far from home, retribution for our culture of consumption and exploitation. Let's start by revising the physics of political power in the world, in which even the most magnificent of nations can be paralyzed by one misguided renegade act, in which no one power is superior to others....

So what do we tell our children? To accept that in the aftermath we have not simply joined the rest of the world in their experience of fear and exposure to terror, but, rather, that there has been a qualitative change in our consciousness to become more accountable. We must come to terms with the reality that we cannot utterly control the powers of all peoples, re-examine our place in the world, and begin to imagine a world without superpowers.


The Reuters news service barred its journalists from describing the hijackers involved on the attack on New York and Washington as "terrorists." "We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," explained Stephan Jukes, head of global news, "and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist."

Jukes also supplied a more prosaic justification for the policy: "[W]e don't want to jeopardize the safety of our staff. Our people are on the front lines, in Gaza, the West Bank, and Afghanistan. The minute we seem to be siding with one side or another, they're in danger." From which side, he did not specify.

[Ed.: Interestingly, Reuters also described the Taliban as "puritanical." And in an unrelated story about the discovery of a planned Columbine-style attack at a high school in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Reuters said the perpetrators of the earlier attack, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, "terrorized their schoolmates, killing 12 students and one teacher at the Littleton, Colorado, school before turning their guns on themselves." Perhaps one man's dangerously alienated teenager is another man's freedom fighter.]

Various proclamations from the Guardian:
During my lifetime, America has been constantly waging war against much of humanity: impoverished people mostly, in stricken places. Moreover, far from being the main perpetrators of terrorism, Islamic peoples have been its victims—more often than not of an American fundamentalism and its proxies.

It is this record of unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world's population, for whom there is little democracy in the current distribution of global wealth and power. If it turns out that Tuesday's attacks were the work of Osama bin Laden's supporters, the sense that the Americans are once again reaping a dragons' teeth harvest they themselves sowed will be overwhelming.

It is men who perpetrated this violence and men who organise the response. The power structure is exposed at such times, as the token women slide into the background, leaving war to men. Condoleezza Rice seems to be the one exception. Virtually the only female faces in the media at the moment are the victims; women are cast as passive.

A bully with a bloody nose is still a bully.

[Ed.: In contrast, and for the record, four-fifths of the British public voiced support for a war against global terrorism.]

Susan Sontag in the New Yorker, September 24, 2001:
The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public.

There is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing bombing of Iraq?

And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue) whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

The modern liberal taste for garment-rending, as displayed in a letter to the hawkish New Republic, October 1, 2001:
I was saddened to read your interpretation of the lessons to be learned from this week's tragedy ("It Happened Here," September 24). As you see it, the hatred directed against the United States comes from the hatred of freedom, privacy, prosperity, democracy, modernity—in short, only our virtues inspire hatred, so we need not change anything about ourselves while we hunt down our enemies. You fail to grasp that the very meaning of America is being grappled with, and, I believe, transformed. Many of us look around and see that for all the talk of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness, the actions are weighted toward environmental destruction, corporate arrogance, mindless materialism, and decaying democracy. America must stand for something quite different. In the courage to change lies the hope for an America that will earn the respect and affection of people everywhere.

—Keshini Ladduwahetty
Washington, D.C.


Filmmaker Michael Moore in a posting on his website,, September 12, 2001:
Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California—these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!

That text soon disappeared from his site, presumably censored or something, and was replaced by another article that included the following analysis:

We have orphaned so many children, tens of thousands around the world, with our taxpayer-funded terrorism (in Chile, in Vietnam, in Gaza, in Salvador) that I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised when those orphans grow up and are a little whacked in the head from the horror we have helped cause.

Yet, our recent domestic terrorism bombings have not been conducted by a guy from the desert but rather by our own citizens: a couple of ex-military guys who hated the federal government.

From the first minutes of today's events, I never heard that possibility suggested. Why is that?

Maybe it's because the A-rabs are much better foils. A key ingredient in getting Americans whipped into a frenzy against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It's much easier to get us to hate when the object of our hatred doesn't look like us.

Congressmen and Senators spent the day calling for more money for the military; one Senator on CNN even said he didn't want to hear any more talk about more money for education or health care—we should have only one priority: our self-defense.

Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn't living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes?

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race—you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all.

Moore again, in a September 17 posting:
The amazing thing is that you can even still get a Wall Street Journal—anywhere and everywhere. As I write this late Sunday night, the captains of Capitalism are declaring that the stock exchange will re-open on Monday, even if they don't have running water and phones, just to show its enemies that NOTHING can stop the forward accumulation of wealth.

The vast majority of the dead are those who labored to bring them that wealth, and it dishonors them and their families to so callously crank up the greed machine within days of this tragedy. Their bodies—thousands of them—are still buried under the rubble down the street, but, hey, why wait to give them a proper burial—let's get busy making some money! I can only hope that the stench from the rotting corpses of their former employees will haunt them for the rest of the day and remain in their consciences for the days to come...

More thoughts on President Bush from September 19:
I know we are all supposed to be supportive of Mr. Bush, at the moment, but has it dawned on anyone that he is not, in fact, the "president?" I hate to bring up a thorny subject, but this is the man who lost the election. He got the least number of votes between the two major party candidates. His brother oversaw a rigged vote in Florida.

I am so, so sorry to bring this up now, but the tragedy of the past week is EXACTLY the kind of horrible circumstance many Americans feared we'd find ourselves in—A NATIONAL CRISIS UNDER A LEADER WHO IS NOT THERE BY THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. It is a tribute to the goodwill of the American public that they have rallied behind George W. Bush as best they can, 'cause he and his fake flight jacket is all we got right now in the Oval Office....

We are now driving across Ohio toward West Virginia and Pennsylvania. On the radio, NPR is running a history report on Osama bin Laden. We are told that he comes from a wealthy family and that they are the main builders for the Saudi royal family. They've remodeled palaces and built holy sites. Their construction projects are everywhere. Kathleen turns to me, and with one word sums up the kind of low-life we are talking about here.

"Contractors," she says. "Bin Laden is a contractor." Indeed, it all made sense.

[Ed.: In a September 22 posting, Moore complains that he has been contacted by several news organizations from around the world, but not by any American news outlets. But in his September 19 posting, he says NPR offered to broadcast him reading these letters, which he wrote while driving across the country to New York. Moore's apparent goal was to get onto network television. Any difficulty in doing so can easily be explained by pondering another obtuse posting from October 8, in which he criticizes President Bush for "wander[ing] off to vacation in Omaha" following the attack and "companies like Boeing get[ting] rid of 30,000 people while using the tragedy in New York as their shameful excuse."]

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen apologized for referring to the attack on the World Trade Center as "the greatest work of art one can imagine." "That minds accomplish in one act something that we in music can't dream of, that people rehearse like mad for ten years—totally fanatically—for a concert and then die—that's the greatest work of art there is in the entire cosmos," he said the Sunday after the attack.

The composer told angry Hamburg officials—who canceled four performances of his work at a music festival—that he meant to say the attack was "a production of the devil, Lucifer's work of art." Stockhausen also appeared to have referred to "art" in the broad, modern sense that includes that which is appalling. Stockhausen gained fame through his avant-garde works in the 1960s and '70s, but later moved on to less popular musical theater projects, some of which involved the use of military equipment.

[Ed.: Berlin's minister for culture Adrienne Goehler, a psychologist, also got into hot water when she referred to the twin towers as "phallic symbols" in a public meeting following the attack.]


Joel Rogers in the Nation, September 17, 2001:
Our own government, through much of the past fifty years, has been the world's leading "rogue state." Merely listing the plainly illegal or unauthorized uses of force the US was responsible for during the long period of cold war, and continued during the past decade of "purposeless peace"—assassinations, engineered coups, terrorizing police forces, military invasions, "force without war," direct bombings, etc.—would literally take volumes. And behind that list reside the bodies of literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocents, most of them children, whose lives we have taken without any pretense to justice.

Former San Francisco Supervisor Amos Brown, speaking at a memorial service for victims of the terrorist attack, September 17, 2001:
America, America, What did you do—either intentionally or unintentionally—in the world order, in Central America, in Africa where bombs are still blasting? America, what did you do in the global warming conference when you did not embrace the smaller nations? America, what did you do two weeks ago when I stood at the world conference on racism, when you wouldn't show up? Oh, America, what did you do?

A bill under consideration by the student government of the University of California at Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement during the 1960s:
Whereas: On Monday, Sept. 17, 12,000 members of the Cal community came together in peace and solidarity to mourn the loss of almost 6,000 human lives when planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, rural Pennsylvania and the Pentagon,

Whereas: Despite the possibility of hate and hasty actions across the nation, we stood united behind our values of truth and healing that day, and

Whereas: Leaders that day remarked on our shared value of Berkeley as a place of light where the rights of individuals with difference are appreciated and honest, probing inquiry is encouraged, and

Whereas: The Cal community and the nation as a whole has been deeply hurt by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and

Whereas: Berkeley remains one of the few places in the world where a thoughtful, critical exchange can occur from people across a spectrum of backgrounds and races, without fear of reprisal or hatred, and

Whereas: The Daily Californian's editorial cartoon of two Muslims in the hand of the devil printed on Tuesday, Sept. 18 shows a complete disregard for the value of dynamic intellectual community and a desire to understand rather than condemn, and

Whereas: The cartoon promotes the kind of harmful stereotyping that has led to the murder of Sikhs and Muslims across the country, and the terrorization of many more, and

Whereas: The cartoon may fall within the realm of fair comment and free speech, but falls outside of the realm of human decency, sensitivity, responsibility and respect, and

Whereas: The ASUC values free speech, but not hate speech, and

Whereas: The ASUC should grant office space to groups consistent with the shared mission of community and service, as well as the University's dedication to truth and light, and

Whereas: The Daily Californian occupies an entire upper floor of an ASUC-run building at significantly below market rents,

Whereas: The Daily Californian's actions on this and possibly other occasions calls into question their own commitment to the student body's shared values, and

Whereas: The Daily Californian has not printed an apology, and might in the future continue to act against ASUC values of community and inquiry by perpetuating harmful stereotypes; and

Whereas: The Daily Californian will soon be renegotiating its contract for use of the sixth floor of Eshelman Hall; therefore, let it be

Resolved: That the ASUC Senate, on behalf of the Associated Students and the Cal community, strongly condemn the Daily Californian's Editorial cartoon on Sept. 18, and call for a printed apology for using bad judgement during volatile times on its front page, and be it further

Resolved: That the ASUC Senate recommend to the Store Operations Board that it base the continued occupation of the sixth floor of Eshelman and rent rates in future contracts on the Daily Californian's actions to rectify its complete insensitivity to the needs of its campus and its values; and be it further

Resolved: That voluntary diversity training, a printed apology, and a new record of dedication to truth in editorial and news content be considered steps toward such a rectification.

[Ed.: Darrin Bell was one of several editorial cartoonist who used the same idea, that martyred terrorists expecting a blissful afterlife amidst numerous virgins would instead find themselves in hell. Immediately after the Californian published his cartoon, over 100 protestors occupied its offices.]

In North Carolina, Chapel Hill town officials ordered a local restaurant to take down a banner proclaiming "God bless America, woe to our enemies," ostensibly because zoning ordinances require temporary placards to have an area of no more than six square feet, but three members of the town council had objected to the content of the message. One councilman, Bill Strom, said: "Personally, I found the language offensive. I didn't find the 'God Bless America' offensive and appreciate everyone's show of unity. But the implied tone of 'woe to our enemies' is not the message I have been giving my child. Nor do I feel it's an appropriate banner to hang in the middle of downtown Chapel Hill."

NCCI Holdings, a firm based in Boca Raton, Florida, banned American flags from the workplace and confiscated flags from some cubicles because, according to a memo from CEO Bill Schrempf, "divisive statements or actions, political or religious discussions and anything else that could be divisive or mean different things to different people are not appropriate in our work environment." The policy lasted until 4:00 PM the day it was enacted.

In Pennsylvania, Lehigh University also briefly banned display of the American flag "so non-American students would not feel uncomfortable," in the words of John Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs, who ordered the removal. Another school official later said, "We have such a diverse student body and emotions are so high right now. The idea was to keep from offending some of our students, and maybe the result was much to the contrary.... A mistake was made."

A Florida Gulf Coast University librarian asked an employee to remove a sticker that read "Proud to be an American," because, again, she didn't want to offend international students. "We've tried really hard to make sure people on our campus don't feel like they're looked at differently because they come from different religious or ethnic backgrounds," said a spokeswoman for the school. "If a mistake was made, it was made out of a very pure motive."

On Sunday, September 30, the New York Times ran three different articles suggesting that flag-waving represented a menacing and oppressive trend. Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed accusing President Bush of "playing the flag card" in order to curb free expression. On the front page of the opinion section Blaine Hardin explored how "the flag, as much as any symbol, embodies the paradox [of how] constitutional rights, which supposedly form the core of patriotism's appeal, suddenly lost ground to fear." And in the magazine section, George Packer explained why the flag wasn't displayed in his liberal household: "Display wasn't just politically suspect, it was simply bad taste, sentimental, primitive, sometimes aggressive."

The Los Angeles Times reports that some "activists" are uncomfortable with the many American flags on display. Roger Lowenstein, whom the Times inexplicably identifies as "a patriot," said: "I grew up suspicious of the flag. It meant right-wing politics. It meant repression. It meant arrogance. It meant, 'We're the greatest.' " Jodi Evans of Venice, California, says: "I feel confused and disconnected [from the flag]. Haven't people learned anything in the last 30 years? Haven't they been watching what America has been doing around the world? Instead of feeling humility and compassion, it seems like the flag is being flown to just arrogantly continue what we've been doing."

Also in Los Angeles, city council member Ruth Galanter is proposing that the Council recite a "pledge of allegiance to the Earth" at the beginning of council meetings. It reads: "I pledge allegiance to the Earth on which I stand, one world, one people, undivided, with food, shelter and justice for all."

Finally, Berkeley's city manager forced local firefighters to remove American flags from their fire trucks because the sight could have made nearby peace demonstrators feel uncomfortable, and possibly violent.