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"This is a human issue, not an American, democracy, or a freedom issue."
September 11, 2001 12:46 PM   Subscribe

"This is a human issue, not an American, democracy, or a freedom issue." This site is intelligent & amusing, usually, but this critique is just plain wrong. It is uniquely an American issue, as the crime has been perpetrated upon our nation solely for our American values, beliefs, and principles. This is not an attack on Jason, but rather an attempt to demonstrate the true nature of this evil. The strike at the symbolic center of capitalism and the financial heart of the world, coupled with the attack on the headquarters of our nation's ability to defend itself, directly point to terrorists who want to hurt us BECAUSE of the very values & principles that make this America. BTW - I love that Jason & MeFi are performing the valuable services that they are, providing links to sites where NYC folks & friends can post "I'm OK" messages.
posted by davidmsc (36 comments total)

 
... point to terrorists who want to hurt us BECAUSE of the very values & principles that make this America.

David, how can you know at all that this might be a response to anything america has done in the past?

At this point, it's your guess. Just as Jason can guess that this isn't an american-only attack and something was was designed to hurt the world.

We're all just grasping at straws at this point. I'm going to wait until there's more information before determining that our evil capitalist pig tendencies are to blame.
posted by mathowie at 12:53 PM on September 11, 2001


Anytime someone attacks the sanctity of life, it's not just american. It's human. When it's based on the utter ignorance of one's hatred, it's human.

The world shudders.
posted by trioperative at 1:00 PM on September 11, 2001


Our "uniquely" American values of freedom, democracy, and capitalism are in fact shared to some extent by nearly every civilized nation on the planet. In fact, that's how we tell whether a nation is "civilized" or not.
posted by kindall at 1:00 PM on September 11, 2001


It's a little early to start splitting hairs. Call your mom, hug a friend, grieve the dead & wounded, feel lucky to be alive. Let's leave the debate for later.
posted by jkottke at 1:03 PM on September 11, 2001


I wish people wouldn't jump on rhetorical high horses so early. True, we don't know. We can make educated guesses, but we should label them as guesses. We're stumbling along trying to assimilate this astonishing information.

Of course it's a human issue. No feeling human could be unaffected by such an event. You don't need to be American to know that this is going to have wide-ranging effects as events unfold and reactions are put in place. How will this affect trade? Travel? Immigration? What if it leads to war (if one doesn't accept that by this act we are not already at war)?

But there is a uniquely American component to this event. We have tried to create that America of the mind, a place apart from the world, beset by few of its problems, and we're finding increasingly that we cannot escape. America may never return to halcyon days of low security.
posted by dhartung at 1:03 PM on September 11, 2001


Strictly speaking, the only thing that we know right now is that this is a human tragedy. This kind of attack is indiscriminate, and I'm sure that not only Americans have been touched. The WTC was a building in America, and Americans will bear the brunt of the pain of this attack, but the W stands for World for a reason.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:06 PM on September 11, 2001


well, we don't know exactly what kind of an issue it is at the moment, given that we don't know who did this.

but I'll say that I think that both of you have it wrong.

I'm certain that this won't turn out to be an attack on american values; it will be an attack on american actions.

and sure it's a human thing, the same sort of human thing that happens when the US bombs iraqi citizens or stands by when civilians are slaughtered in rwanda, or ignores homes being bulldozed in palestine or completely denies the genocide in east timor.

the US has made itself a target with its arrogance, IMO. I obviously don't support terrorist actions anywhere in the name of any cause, but the US has to take responsibility for its own actions, and for answering to no one.

there's a huge difference between standing up for what you think is right, and just doing what you please, with no regard for the consequences to others. we haven't been good world citizens. our wealth and our military force have allowed us to be bullies whenever we pleased, regardless of how we like to portray ourselves.

an act of this kind was just a matter of time. I call for a National Day of Reflection, followed by an attempt to behave more responsibly on the world stage, so that it's just not a matter of time before it happens again.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:07 PM on September 11, 2001


New York is the world's crucible. I have friends within the financial district; since getting to a keyboard, the last few hours have been a frantic attempt to make contact. The BBC has abandoned its schedules. What's truly American is that nothing ever happens in half-measures.
posted by holgate at 1:08 PM on September 11, 2001


No one can infer motive before those responsible are known. I add my voice to those who have spoken in other threads of the essential need for a calm, measured reaction to these horrific events. There will be time enough for all appropriate responses, once we determine what those might be. Understanding must precede reaction.

The fundamental beliefs and values which define this nation take precedence over any crime, any horror, any threat. Let's not lose our heads and abdicate our responsibilities as free citizens. History is full of horrors; this is, if anything, a difference in scale, not type. And it's happening to US, which is new. So let us be judged by how we cope with the crisis.
posted by rushmc at 1:08 PM on September 11, 2001


"don't it always seem to go,
that you dont know what you got till it's gone,
pave palestine, and put up a parking lot."
posted by quonsar at 1:08 PM on September 11, 2001


Arrogance is a matter of perspective. The other side is always the "arrogant" one.
posted by mischief at 1:10 PM on September 11, 2001


I'm with jason on this one - I'm frantically trying to find out if some friends of mine are even alive still (they worked in the WTC) - who really gives a shit at this very moment whether or not it's "an uniquely American issue"???

I've said this a couple of times already here, but people - please give blood. It takes such a short time and it makes a difference.

If you live in Canada, call 1-888-236-6283, or check out the Canadian Blood Services Web site to find details on the closest Red Cross... Americans, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
posted by theNonsuch at 1:13 PM on September 11, 2001


It's a little early to start splitting hairs. Call your mom, hug a friend, grieve the dead & wounded, feel lucky to be alive. Let's leave the debate for later.
posted by jkottke at 1:03 PM PST on September 11


i agree with jason. shutup. youre not half as witty and intelligent as you think you are.

thats an undirected "you", but if you took offense i was prolly talking to you.

be happy you're alive. save all the egotistical arguing bullshit for another time.
posted by Satapher at 1:13 PM on September 11, 2001


CNN Radio just reported that intelligence sources have confirmed Osama Bin Laden and his bunch is involved.
posted by mischief at 1:17 PM on September 11, 2001


I am suspicious of any claim that this or that group is now known to have done it. Jane's Intelligence list the three top groups that had the planning ability, the know-how etc and if this fine intelligence place can not at this time pin down the group, then I am not sure how CNN knows. One Palestinian group claimed credit; but the Israelis discounted this claim. There is a report that Israeli picked up some possible info before it happened but whether this was passed on to US is not known (to me). Have also read that Bin Laden had announced a week or so ago a major strike at the Western world, a big one.
And then there is the guy who was to be sentenced in court in Foley Sq, a block or two away from the Towers. He was to probably get life and he was associated with the Bin Laden group. Connection? possibly. Too early to know anything at this point. And when we know, what then?
posted by Postroad at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2001


(Cross-post. It seem more relevant here. Apologies.)

The Arab world feels that after the bombing of Libya, Afghanistan, oppression of Iraqis but support of Hussein and the oppression of the Palestinian people that they are fighting a war against an aggressive, powerful, violent nation. I wouldn’t want to live in the Middle East, subject to the whims of US and Isreali policy.

I don’t agree with terrorist acts against anybody, so all I can do is deplore both US foreign policy (seen as international terrorism by others) and by foreign terrorists (seen as freedom fighters by others) alike.

Law Enforcement and the Military cannot protect you from terrorist attacks. Only diplomacy can diffuse this — only peace for all people.

Vengence and retaliatation will make this worse. It already has.

(Granted, its not been confirmed that bin Laden is responsible for this, but he didn’t take responsibility for the USS Cole, either. I seriously doubt this is anything but Middle East-orginated terrorism, in response to systematic oppression. Its just bad all around, the US is not innocent and neither are the terrorists.)
posted by raaka at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2001


I'm with Rebecca in this: war acts that relegate innocent lives to "necessary casualties" is terrorism. No one who engages in them is free from responsibility, including the U.S. We need to stop living under our damned double standard. It's one of the reasons this happened.

And what's actually worse than the "debate" that some are attempting to squelch, is the negativity, censorship, and pointed and direct attacks at each other in this forum, that are of absolutely no use at this time. We need to hang together as a people - a human people - planetwide. Let's.
posted by mirla at 1:32 PM on September 11, 2001


Ok, it is time to stop arguing and just help with what you can. That's what I'm doing.
posted by trioperative at 1:50 PM on September 11, 2001


It's easy to see why the US would be a target if you factor in Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle." After all, The United States is in most people's eyes at the top of the global pecking order. Under Bloom's ideas, anyone wishing to reach the top of the pecking order will try knocking the US off. It's a tragedy of human nature...

All I can say is... fear and loathing.
posted by drezdn at 1:51 PM on September 11, 2001


Just because this is a free country doesn't mean it's the most powerful one. If it was, wouldn't we have been able to predict this and prevent it?
posted by Katy Action at 2:10 PM on September 11, 2001


"If America is this vunerable, how safe is the rest of the world?"

-BBC News
posted by jcterminal at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2001


"The rest of the world has nothing to do with America's [put the appropriate adjective...] actions.
That's the price of trying to rule the globe, when nobody asks you to."

-me
posted by kchristidis at 2:36 PM on September 11, 2001


If it was, wouldn't we have been able to predict this and prevent it?

Most powerful != omniscient or omnipotent
posted by OneBallJay at 2:55 PM on September 11, 2001


anyone ever see 'wag the dog'?

just a thought...
posted by jcterminal at 6:01 PM on September 11, 2001


war acts that relegate innocent lives to "necessary casualties" is terrorism.

No, I'm afraid not. It's called "total war". In total war it's recognized that there is no such thing as a non-combatant. The distinction between "soldier" and "civilian" is recognized as an artificial one, mostly driven by the irrational hope by civilians that they should be spared the horror of war, which should primarily be borne by the officially designated soldiers.

On some level total war has been around for a long time, but it really formally became accepted that it made sense to deliberately target enemy civilians in the Spanish Civil War and WWII.

Terrorism is something different entirely. It's a specific kind of war, involving strategies and tactics tailored to maximize the ability of a seriously inferior side to prevail in the conflict. It is true that it often targets "civilians" but that's part of why it succeeds (and it often does). I'm not saying any of this is "good", but it is how things are.

It's not necessarily the case that terrorists thing that civilian casualties are unimportant. Rather, it's a lesser evil. Any war is fought because at least one of the combatants has a goal they think is so important that they think it is worth sacrificing many lives to achieve it, and in that terrorists are no different than any other soldier.

But I'm afraid that "civilian" is a fiction. There is no such thing. There hasn't been a "civilian" on this planet for sixty years.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:37 PM on September 11, 2001


Your egghead semantic argument is taken by me as nothing more than fight-picking, thanks.

"Terrorism" is something specifically engaged in to bring about "terror." There can be no other possible "justification" for harming innocent citizens of one's enemy's country.

The point I'm making (if you could only see it) is that the U.S. is no better than its enemies for disregarding innocent lives, as it has done so throughout history. Latest repercussions? CIVILIANS celebrating in the streets of Palestine and Egypt today.
posted by mirla at 9:13 PM on September 11, 2001


Mirla, "terrorism" is a technical term from the theory of warfare. It's been adopted incorrectly by laymen and assigned the meaning you are trying to use.

The reason I'm making that argument is that the connotations of the latter definition are being extrapolated to the people who fit the former definition. Not every terrorist (in the technical sense of the term) is morally despicable. Within the technical definition, for instance, Ghandi was a terrorist. So was Martin Luther King Jr.

Some terrorists are morally despicable, but what they are doing isn't inexplicable; you do, however, have to temporarily try to think like them in order to understand what they're doing. Their motives are different than yours but what they're doing makes complete sense within their own world-view.

And while I don't necessarily agree with you that the US is no better than its enemies, I think the key point is that even if you are right, the US is my country and even if it is no better than any other I still want it to prevail. I don't need moral superiority in order to wish that.

(By the way, go find a book and read up on the Rape of Nanking sometime -- then come back and describe to me an event, ANY event, in US history of equal magnitude representing an equal disdain for civilian lives.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:31 PM on September 11, 2001


There can be no other possible "justification" for harming innocent citizens of one's enemy's country.

There are so many contradictions in that statement that it makes my head whirl. Re-read SDB's post.
posted by rushmc at 10:44 PM on September 11, 2001


I think the key point is that even if you are right, the US is my country and even if it is no better than any other I still want it to prevail. I don't need moral superiority in order to wish that.

That is a very disturbing statement. Care to provide some context for it? I can't believe you meant it the way it sounds...
posted by rushmc at 10:46 PM on September 11, 2001


When someone kills tens of thousands of people at random, people who have nothing to do with whatever polictical statement is being made but just happen to be in a certain place at a certain time, then regardless of the symbolism involved in the target, tens of thousands of people die. That is an attack on the idea of the sanctity of human life. The sanctity of human life is not an America-only idea.

This truely does go beyond the boundries of America.
posted by emlyn at 12:40 AM on September 12, 2001


Rush, I think my statement stands on its own. Short of scanning my passport to prove that I'm a US citizen, what context is needed?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:36 AM on September 12, 2001


I call for a National Day of Reflection, followed by an attempt to behave more responsibly on the world stage, so that it's just not a matter of time before it happens again.

rebeccablood, while I have some sympathy for your concern about US policies, isn't this exactly what the terrorists want? Wouldn't this sort of reaction be rewarding the people who did this awful thing? The quotes I heard from Palestinians who were actually celebrating this sick tragedy sounded just like what you're saying, "maybe this will cause Americans to re-think their policy in the Mideast."

We many need to re-evaluate our foreign policy, but not because of this, not out of fear that someone may hurt us, rather out of a desire to do what is right and just.
posted by straight at 8:11 AM on September 12, 2001


Rush, I think my statement stands on its own. Short of scanning my passport to prove that I'm a US citizen, what context is needed?

So, to paraphrase (still trying to understand), what you are saying is that right doesn't matter, only membership?
posted by rushmc at 3:57 PM on September 12, 2001


Rush, that's not a paraphrase, it's a straw man. I'm saying that if there's a choice between "him dying" and "me dying" then I want it to be him. I'm suggesting that if some other nation decides that one of the two nations is going to die, then it's going to be the other one. I'm not suggesting that the US has carte blanche to go out and pick fights with anyone it feels like, but the US did not pick this one, and if a fight there must be, then I want my nation to win it, because it is my nation even if there is no other reason why.

We didn't start this, but we're damned well going to finish it.

Anyway, I reject wholesale any suggestion of moral equivalence between the US and whoever was responsible for this.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:58 PM on September 12, 2001


Okay, that's why I wanted clarification of your original statement. It came across as something quite different.
posted by rushmc at 8:37 PM on September 12, 2001


mirla: We need to hang together as a people - a human people - planetwide.

You want to "hang together" with Arafat? Bin Laden? Saddam? Or do you just want to "hang together" with the people who support them, and arm them?

Sorry -- I'll "hang together" with people who believe in freedom, democracy, and capitalism.
posted by davidmsc at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2002


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