It isn't just "freedom" they hate.
September 21, 2001 10:38 PM   Subscribe

It isn't just "freedom" they hate. "Those who rained terror upon the U.S. may have had real grievances -- and we shouldn't feel guilty about discussing them."
posted by RJ Reynolds (85 comments total)
 
Finally someone has the guts to say it. Bush's repeated statements that the militants "hate freedom" is a straw man argument. They have grievances and freedom is not one of them.
posted by fleener at 11:44 PM on September 21, 2001


Oh no, here we go. More moral relativism and blame-the-victim arguments.
posted by aaron at 11:59 PM on September 21, 2001


More moral relativism and blame-the-victim arguments.

I'm NOT being sarcastic, I'm being totally serious, I swear: I actually don't know what this means. Who's the victim?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:04 AM on September 22, 2001


Why on Earth is there such hostility to examining the motives of our enemies? Doesn't that make, you know, military sense? Or are the grousers afraid that we'll lose our righteous resolve to kill them all?
posted by Allen Varney at 12:13 AM on September 22, 2001


Argh. All this grievance stuff is overly simplistic. How can you talk about these things without talking about the context in which they occurred? Our writer helpfully describes "the blood of tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim civilians" on the hands of our former presidents. I don't follow (to say the least). Tens of thousands died. But how can she possibly judge whose hands those deaths are on? Let me get this straight: The Soviets invade Afghanistan and the blood of the dead soldiers (defending their own country, mind you) is on our hands. The Palestinians try and destroy Israel and the blood of the dead soldiers is on our hands. Right. Obviously.

So, I mean, is she really against ignorance? Or is she just against ignorance of some of the issues?

RJ, this is a blame-the-victim-type argument because the logical conclusion is, someone attacks us and their blood is on our (the victim's) hands.

P.S. I'm not saying we didn't make serious mistakes, and I do feel we should educate and revise our foreign policy; I've written a damn long-ass comment about it. But I still have yet to see anyone describe what it is we did that wronged the Muslims -- point to one act that was demonstrably wrong (given that we have some right to look out for our national interests and help defend our allies) and that led to the WTC attack. Bin Laden's main, publicly stated grievance is the presence of non-Muslims (U.S. troops) in Saudi Arabia. Is the blood of the WTC victims on the hands of those troops?
posted by mattpfeff at 12:28 AM on September 22, 2001


The victims - plural - are the 6000 - 7000 people killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (People who, by the way, come from many nations across the globe, which is a big part of the reason the "us" in "us vs. them" is far from just the U.S.) And the 130,000 people and counting who have lost their jobs, almost certainly permanently, in the last week as a direct result of the attack. And all of us in the United States and around the world, who, thanks to a week spent staying at home in fear and staring at the TV, ended up pushing the US economy (and, with it, the rest of the world) into what will almost certainly become a full-blown recession, and end up taking even more jobs from more people.

But, if you wish, you may simply wrap all the above up and call the victim the United States. Or at least the innocent civilians of the United States, since very few actual military people were killed, even in the Pentagon. The United States was invaded, and bombed, resulting in the most massive one-day casualty count in the entire 225-year history of the country. Almost all of whom were civilians. By an enemy so cowardly they won't even directly own up to the act.

And yet, somehow, this thread is going to attempt to, yes, blame the victim. The attacks will be shown, through a combination of moral relativism and circular logic to somehow be our fault, or at least partially our fault.

Personally, I hope someone manages to "prove" it really is "our fault" because of some action the US government did umpteen decades ago when the geopolitical situation was so completely different from today that it might as well have been from a planet 5 million light years away. Then we'll finally have the excuse to blow up No. 10 Downing Street like we've wanted to for all this time. After all, the British burned down the White House in the War of 1812, so they started it, right?
posted by aaron at 12:31 AM on September 22, 2001


Bin Laden's main, publicly stated grievance is the presence of non-Muslims (U.S. troops) in Saudi Arabia.

That is indeed his main stated objection, but it is not his only one. He is also resolutely anti-US because we support Israel. And he HATES THE JEWS. Not for any semi-logical, debatable-as-to-its-legitimacy reason either. He hates the Jews because in his twisted bastardized interpretation of Islam, they are the enemy of Islam. Subhumans that need to be eliminated from the planet. In short, he is a plain old anti-Semite of the highest order, and as such will always despise the US unless we someday cut all ties to Israel whatsoever.

Thus, we have clearly shown that Bin Laden's beefs are not legitimate. He's in this because he hates us. Nothing more, nothing less. If you try to argue otherwise, then you'd sure better be able to explain your anti-Semitism! Why is the blood of those WTC victims on the hands of the Jews?
posted by aaron at 12:40 AM on September 22, 2001



Aaron: Did you even read the article linked? Or the Guardian article linked inside that story, "They Can't See Why They Are Hated"? I think you could not have read it- because if you did, and can still make the comments you have above, then there truly is no hope for you. "Blame the Victim"? Could you possibly misunderstand it more? "Our fault"? Could you possible be more without a clue as to what is trying to be communicated?

I don't have the energy to explain it one more time to you; if you have read the linked article, which I thought was absolutely terrific, re-read it. Read it carefully, read each paragraph, and leave yourself open for one goddamned minute to the possibility that they have something to say to you.

aaron: Thus, we have clearly shown that Bin Laden's beefs are not legitimate. He's in this because he hates us. Nothing more, nothing less. If you try to argue otherwise, then you'd sure better be able to explain your anti-Semitism! Why is the blood of those WTC victims on the hands of the Jews

You know, I was writing my original passage above, when in the preview just before posting I saw this new comment from you. And don't take this too personally, but that is one of the dumbest fucking things you have ever written. The only response I can have to that is why, in your tirade against any who would dare disagree with the popular rhetoric, you don't also accuse them of being Communists or Fascists. Or perhaps Liberal Pinkos. Heck, might as well throw in homosexual deviants while you're at it.
posted by hincandenza at 12:52 AM on September 22, 2001



somehow, this thread is going to attempt to, yes, blame the victim

aaron, you're not saying that to explore the terrorists' reasons for doing what they did is the same thing as blaming the victim, are you?

The blood from the WTC is on the hands of neither the Jews nor of the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. It's on the hands of the terrorists alone. But to realize they had their reasons, no matter how twisted and inhuman, is not the same thing as condoning what they did. I'm with Allen Varney -- you have to know your enemy.
posted by diddlegnome at 12:58 AM on September 22, 2001


Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, and Libya. Especially the Sudan, where is the relief for this devastating error? I don't claim to know why Osama hates the US, but the perspective from the middle east is skewed by these events. That's why people dance in the streets.

Is the US good or evil? No. There are too many shades of gray between. Are Arabs good or evil? No. There are too many shades of gray between. Will justice be done? I sure hope so.

If you try to argue otherwise, then you'd sure better be able to explain your anti-Semitism!

Paint me an anti-semite then, I couldn't care less about your ultimatum.
posted by skallas at 1:15 AM on September 22, 2001


Whether these grievances are true, fanatical delusions, or fairy tales quite simply doesn't matter. There are millions of people in the Middle East, Asia, Central and South America, etc., who hate us because they believe we have wronged them, directly or indirectly. My 3 year old daughter is going to be explaining to her draft age children why they will have to fight in some godforsaken place, unless we can either:

a. address the grievances,
b. redirect the anger elsewhere, or
c. kill them all.

Take your pick.
posted by ramsey at 1:26 AM on September 22, 2001


Who shall we really blame? So many are so bent on dishing blame and in some cases accused of taking the blame themselves like treasonous pussies.

Flat out -- None of us are to blame.

We cannot, in putrid, self righteous voices proclaim any facet of civilization is to blame, knowing full well we've all had murderous thoughts.
posted by crasspastor at 1:39 AM on September 22, 2001


aaron, you're not saying that to explore the terrorists' reasons for doing what they did is the same thing as blaming the victim, are you?

No, not at all. What I'm saying is that I don't believe this Salon article has any intention of seriously exploring those reasons. I believe it has the intention of attempting to make people believe the attack on the US was the US's fault, that we deserved to have those 6,500 people die and have our entire economy turned upside down. Nothing more.

The blood from the WTC is on the hands of neither the Jews nor of the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. It's on the hands of the terrorists alone.

I'm glad you believe that. But while the author doesn't directly claim otherwise, she sure makes one hell of an implicative comparison indicating she believes otherwise.

In short, there was not an ex-president in that church who did not have the blood of tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim civilians on his hands, and who did not commit these acts in the name of the American people.

In other words, their blood on our hands, now our blood on their hands. We merely finally got the payback we deserved, and it was our fault for starting it in the first place, nyah nyah. And her article goes on to state that now, hopefully, the people of the United States will somehow be able to figure out that this mass murder was itself payback, and that we should use this period [cue violins here] to quietly reflect upon what we, both government and citizens, can do to make sure we never intentionally hurt anyone else so much ever again that they would feel the need to retaliate against us for our evils. And remember, that's OUR evils, not their's. [end violins]

The bullshit factor in all that is, I would hope, obvious. Anyway, that quotation alone brings the lie to hincandenza's personal-insult-laden post, so I shall say no more about it.

If you need more reasons to distrust the article, I'll also note that it includes the usual moldy old lefty canards, long long since proven untrue, about things like "the US is killing X-thousand Iraqi civilians per month by starvation," even though the aid that HAS gotten into the country has been found old, grime-covered and unused, in Iraqi warehouses long after they said it had been distributed to the needy; even though the sanctions are UN sanctions, not US sanctions; and even though Saddam alone has somehow managed to amass a net worth of over $8 billion, to say nothing of the rest of his government and family. Nobody is dying in Iraq for any reason except Saddam Hussein. If you claim otherwise, the reader has every reason to suspect the information in and the motives behind your article.
posted by aaron at 1:43 AM on September 22, 2001



Let me explain further. Because what I just wrote looks plain stupid.

None of us yet all of us are to blame insofar as our nature will always remain human.

However, whoever caused this, IS TO BLAME, insofar as no matter how flawed our systems of justice are, the good of the people as a whole, and quite globally, will be forever what we as free people aspire for.

Quite frankly. Death to whoever perpetrates acts like these!
posted by crasspastor at 1:45 AM on September 22, 2001


aaron, that was a stupid statement.

Jews = People
Israel = Nation/Government

The two are entirely different entities.

I can and do disagree with many of the actions of the Israeli government. My government uses my money to buy gunships for their government. Their government uses those gunships with all the restraint of a drunk 16-year old, tear-assing around in dad's car. Only, in this case, the car shoots rockets at the neighbors. Not to belabour the analogy, but there is a common soloution to both scenarios.

Ground their asses, and cut off their allowance until they learn to behave. They'll thank you when they finally grow up.
posted by Optamystic at 1:48 AM on September 22, 2001


I don't think anybody is trying to blame the victims. The people who say let's consider how the world and the US looks through other perspectives are doing it largely in response to the rhetoric that is painting this situation as literally Good vs. Evil. The people who crashed those planes are criminals who perpetrated one of the most heinous crimes ever. But, to characterize it as Good vs. Evil is a cartoon view of the world that serves no purpose other than rallying the people to go and bomb somebody. And the problem that none of the "Kill Them All They Can't Do This To The US And Live" reactionaries don't seem to get is that there is nobody to bomb.

You want to eliminate terrorism? You won't do it with missiles. You can't change somebody's mind with a gun. We won nearly every military engagement in Viet Nam. The British won nearly every military engagement in the US Revolutionary War. You know why we lost and why the British lost? Because they were wars of ideology, and you can't fight an ideological war and win it. The only thing war can win you is territory. There is no territory to take here. You can kill a few people, but as long as the petri dish that breeds terrorism still exists, there will be more terrorists stepping forward to take their place.

How do you fight a war of ideology? You fight it with propaganda, and foreign policy that is designed to cut the legs out of the grievances the would be terrorist recruiters want to point to. To do that you have to understand why most of the world (or if you're unwilling to concede that point most of the Arab world) resents the US. And I'll tell you right now it isn't because we're good and they're evil. That is the attitude that will lose us this war.
posted by willnot at 1:49 AM on September 22, 2001


Is America right to get involved in the politics of so many other countries? Is this a valid way of spending taxpayers' money? Does it serve the interests of US citizens? Is it really worth all the hassle? Can you really imagine the armies of Holland or Norway or any number of prosperous European nations camping out for years in the Middle East?
posted by skylar at 1:54 AM on September 22, 2001


Can you really imagine the armies of Holland or Norway or any number of prosperous European nations camping out for years in the Middle East?

I can't. And you know why? Because hardly any European country has the guts to stand up for what's right -- and to do it because it is right. Take a look at France right now, for instance. It hardly dares to support the U.S., because it might "offend" some of its approx. 5 million Algerian immigrants. Talk about spinelessly surrendering to the very evil one should be combatting.

It is not only America's right to get involved in the politics of so many other countries. It is it's duty -- to the American people.

Knocking down rogue nations and totalitarian regimes around the world is self-defense in the purest sense of the word. Simply hiding heads in the sand, crossing fingers, and hoping that no rogue nation and/or totalitarian regime will attack the most prosperous nation in the world, is as naive as naive gets.
posted by dagny at 3:14 AM on September 22, 2001


Dagny, I find your response very odd. Because to me, war (and I mean a real war, not just a war of ideologies, not just a metaphorical war against terrorism) is wrong. So "standing up for what's right" would mean looking for a peaceful solution even against the wishes of those looking for revenge.

As for the comments about knocking down rogue nations being "self-defence" - what a load of garbage. America's arrogance when it comes to judging and condemning lifestyles contrary to its own is total.
posted by skylar at 3:21 AM on September 22, 2001


So "standing up for what's right" would mean looking for a peaceful solution even against the wishes of those looking for revenge

I'm sure you're volunteering to travel to Afghanistan to "negotiate" with Osama right now. And I'm sure you're prepared to be travelling back to the U.S. in a bodybag. These people hate freedom, they hate prosperity and they hate people pursuing happiness on earth. They want to destroy all that is good. And no way should we be "compromising" with such wicked schemes.

America's arrogance when it comes to judging and condemning lifestyles contrary to its own is total

Unfortunately, no, it isn't. America in fact has gone very far in tolerating evil ideas. I for one hope that has come to a stop now, and that the US starts judging and condemning rogue nations and totalitarian regimes this very instance. The continuation of the entire Western civilization depends on it.
posted by dagny at 3:29 AM on September 22, 2001


Dagny - my last response so that this doesn't become a flame war, although I will read any further responses you have:

I feel you've totally fallen for the "crusade" hype. You've gone in for Bush's whole "war between good and evil" schtick. It's a cartoon view, very convenient for Bush and his scriptwriters, but pretty flimsy under examination. bin Laden doesn't spend his time jealous and angry about America's freedom and democracy, citizens driving around in big SUVs, eating McDonald's and Momma's apple pie, going to Disneyland and the ball game. In fact, he'd probably have laughed when he found out about the travesty of democracy that wound George W. Bush in power.

Instead bin Laden has a grudge against America's FOREIGN policy: mostly its military presence in Saudi Arabia but also its massive funding of Israel. Unusually for a terrorist, though, bin Laden's aim isn't to get the West to sympathise, but to get America to launch a massive military strike which will unite all Moslems in condemnation against the West.

You seem to be suggesting that for the great, free and democratic US civilisation to survive, all opposing "rogue states" must be flattened, with their regimes invaded and replaced with Western capitalist democracy. A rather confused and hypocritical view, methinks. IF this must be the case (and it's a very big IF) it must be a natural grassroots process, not one enforced overnight with American military might.
posted by skylar at 3:52 AM on September 22, 2001


Dagny - my last response so that this doesn't become a flame war, although I will read any further responses you have:

I feel you've totally fallen for the "crusade" hype. You've gone in for Bush's whole "war between good and evil" schtick. It's a cartoon view, very convenient for Bush and his scriptwriters, but pretty flimsy under examination. bin Laden doesn't spend his time jealous and angry about America's freedom and democracy, citizens driving around in big SUVs, eating McDonald's and Momma's apple pie, going to Disneyland and the ball game. In fact, he'd probably have laughed when he found out about the travesty of democracy that wound George W. Bush in power.

Instead bin Laden has a grudge against America's FOREIGN policy: mostly its military presence in Saudi Arabia but also its massive funding of Israel. Unusually for a terrorist, though, bin Laden's aim isn't to get the West to sympathise, but to get America to launch a massive military strike which will unite all Moslems in condemnation against the West.

You seem to be suggesting that for the great, free and democratic US civilisation to survive, all opposing "rogue states" must be flattened, with their regimes invaded and replaced with Western capitalist democracy. A rather confused and hypocritical view, methinks. IF this must be the case (and it's a very big IF) it must be a natural grassroots process, not one enforced overnight with American military might.
posted by skylar at 3:53 AM on September 22, 2001


But behind my American passport, I'm just a person. I'm a copy editor, not Joan of Arc. How do you use community organizing against a global situation? Have you seen photos of the stuff we're shipping out? This would make a cool movie, but real life just keeps on going, and the American machine is running forward of its own weight by now, really.

I'm sorry people are hurting, but people purporting to represent them killed a lot of people here. Not conducive to positive change.
posted by swerve at 4:13 AM on September 22, 2001


Aaron: "How can you talk about these things without talking about the context in which they occurred?".

You cannot seriously be proposing moral relativity here? Don't make me pull Godwin's Law on you.

"Even in Europe there seems to be a growing frustration and hand-wringing incomprehension of the degree to which the American public seems ignorant of our own government's actions." She's right. We are. Maybe living with this stuff daily has helped us to recognise the value of understanding something without the need to agree with it. But the type of reasoning you exhibit is now, in our eyes, ungracefully degraded and it is slowing us down when we can't really afford to be.

Your government asked my government to support your actions. My government agreed, and placed everyone in my country in danger as a consequence. That's OK. But it means I'm no longer asking you to be responsible and accountable for what you do with your freedom and power. I expect it.

You really, really have to get this sorted out in your head. Don't take too long.
posted by RichLyon at 5:06 AM on September 22, 2001


I have to agree with skylar on this. Here are my opinions

-NONE of the people in the WTC deserved to be part of this tragedy
-The United States is not an innocent bystander in this confict.

The arabic peoples have real grievances against americans. Too long have presidents considered embargos and economic sanctions viable methods of punishing rogue states. These methods hurt the bulk of the population of the states, but rarely do they seriously affect the leadership of the states. I mean have you seen what the sanctions are doing to Iraqi civilians? How many nameless foreign citizens has the US starved and bombed to death in the name of American foreign policy?

And sanctions are not the half of it. The United States is constantly arming/training rebels that support causes the US supports. In the 1980's, those rebels included Osama Bin Laden as well as Iraq. I mean the CIA has a terminal case of nearsightedness.

If you have ever been in a foreign country, you would realize that while most people like Americans, they are disturbed by America, with its dichotomy of isolationism and world control. I mean, America does not want to pay U.N. dues, or follow environmental treaties, but damn it you had better hate the nations we hate.

Don't get me wrong though, I served our country in Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, and I believe that we should attack and destroy terrorism, I just think that to truly believe that the WTC attack was on "freedom" is ridiculous and self serving.
posted by patrickje at 5:12 AM on September 22, 2001


One quick nitpicky note for aaron:

Semites are peoples who speak Semitic languages; the group includes Arabs, Aramaeans, Jews, and many Ethiopians. . .Present day speakers of Semitic languages are as diverse in physical, psychological, cultural, and sociological characteristics as are speakers of Indo European languages. The most prominent Semites today are Arabs and Jews. They are different in many ways, and they have absorbed a variety of European traits through centuries of migration and trade. The origin of Semitic languages, however, and many similarities in the stories of Islam and Judaism reflect a common ancient history.

Therefore, for bin Laden to be an anti-Semite is for him to hate himself.
posted by dogmatic at 5:23 AM on September 22, 2001


Why on Earth is there such hostility to examining the motives of our enemies?

According to the Salon article, the enemies are American presidents and the American people. The author reserves all of her bile for the U.S.

To add further insult, she describes Edward Said as a "Lebanese intellectual" without ever mentioning that he has met with and offered fulsome praise for a Hezbollah leader. No blood on his hands, though, right?

You want to know why there's hostility? Some Americans don't appreciate the mass murder of 7,000 people being used as an excuse to start a new dialogue on the wrongs of American foreign policy. Most of the worst "why we are hated" commentary doesn't examine the motives of our enemies -- it paints the U.S. as the enemy.

That's fine for anyone who feels that way, but as a liberal, I think we should focus on saving the country before we get back to the ongoing dialogue about how bad it is.
posted by rcade at 5:30 AM on September 22, 2001


Take a look at what "Lebanese intellectual" Edward Said wrote about Rudy Giuliani for a Middle Eastern newspaper this week:
"New Yorkers have been fortunate that Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a normally rebarbative and unpleasantly combative, even retrograde figure, known for his virulently Zionist views, has rapidly attained Churchillian status."
posted by rcade at 5:51 AM on September 22, 2001


People who actually swallow the line of argument proposed in the article are merely the leftist counterpart of the rightist Falwell and Robertson, who assert our DOMESTIC policy was to blame for the attack, i.e. God allowed it b/c we let homosexuals run rampant. The idiocy is plain either way. I feel this dispute, which has been on many threads these past days, is past its prime. The leftist view has been seen by the majority to be as marginal as the Falwell line. Both Falwell and Chomsky have seen their lights further dimmed. No more need to waste words.
posted by quercus at 6:51 AM on September 22, 2001


Anyone else feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day???
posted by fooljay at 7:10 AM on September 22, 2001


What fooljay said.
Someone should create an alt.politics.we.deserved.it.no.we.didnt newsgroup for the people who want to have a permanent flamewar on this.
posted by boaz at 7:22 AM on September 22, 2001


quercus, since you're so convinced by your feelings to declare all debate off-limits, I won't waste too many words, but I'd suggest that you look up the meanings of the words "foreign" and "policy". Oh, and "clue".
posted by holgate at 7:43 AM on September 22, 2001


Hey, all of you who are posting here, please make sure you read the entirety of these threads: one and two.

Those are not the only places where this has been discussed, but it is certainly a start...
posted by fooljay at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2001


You want to know why there's hostility? Some Americans don't appreciate the mass murder of 7,000 people being used as an excuse to start a new dialogue on the wrongs of American foreign policy.

Some Americans don't like any dialogue on the wrongs of American foreign policy, rcade. People are grieving, and that's understandable but like has been said many times before, you have to know your enemy. Perhaps now that the average person in the U.S. has had their bubble of invulnerability burst, a reasonable dialogue can actually be had -- to mourn the dead and then retaliate blindly against one's enemy without understanding their motives doesn't make any sense, from a humanistic or military point of view.

Most of the worst "why we are hated" commentary doesn't examine the motives of our enemies -- it paints the U.S. as the enemy.

True, but that doesn't discredit the legitimacy, the necessity or the immediacy of the discussion, rcade. For every person that says the U.S. is the enemy (and perhaps we should be distinguishing between the U.S. as a people and the U.S. government, no?), chances are there's another one walking around saying "Bomb the towel-heads." No time "better" than the start of a war to discuss foreign policy, IMO.
posted by lia at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2001


You can't fight an ideological war and win it? That is a pretty bizzarre thing to say.

WWII was an ideological conflict, I belive there was in fact a winner.

The Revolutionary War in the US was ideological. There was a winner.

I would venture to say that a large number of wars are in fact ideological and that generally someone wins them...

Of course there is the old Vietnam strawman - some idea that folks always seem to have that that war proved something about military actions. In fact it proved only one thing - if you are going to fighgt a war then you FIGHT it. You cannot win a war by leaving the enemy his home bases free of attack. Every time we allowed unrestricted bombing in the North we started really winning till we lost our will.

Personally, it doesn't matter to me one bit if these people hate the US for what they perceive are valid reasons. I will be more than happy to see the US take the matter up with them later - that is, AFTER we make sure that the no longer have the capability to hurt us this way again.

I will not leave their ability to kill and destroy intact while we discuss some sort of peace... it was tried before in the face of a foe bent on destruction and it didn't work well. You do remember WWII right?

The can believe the US wronged them, and hell, they might even be right...

But a dog that is viscious even by your own actions still needs to be put down when it turns on you.

A serial killer who really was "formed by society" still needs to be locked the hell up even if you feel bad.

These people have proven themselves to be too dangerous to be allowed to remain intact. Destroy their ability to do this again and then I will be happy to have peace discussions with whatever is left.
posted by soulhuntre at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2001


I'll also note that it includes the usual moldy old lefty canards...

Your blatant bias destroys your credibility. Didn't you get the memo? Small-minded "us vs. them" political viewpoints are passe (and as stupid and lacking in insight as they ever were). I truly don't understand the motivation of posters like yourself who are so determined to twist the debate into the false and perverse form of "anyone interested in seeking context for this incident is automatically blaming US for it." Are you rejecting your own feelings of guilt? (Freud called it transference...) You and your ilk are the ONLY ones I've seen make these silly and objectionable claims.

Can you truly not see and admit that NOTHING happens in a vacuum, including this attack, and that understanding the context that produced it in a more than simplistic way is an important part of any attempt to prevent similar events in the future?
posted by rushmc at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2001


It is not only America's right to get involved in the politics of so many other countries. It is it's duty -- to the American people.

Thus, the world's impression of American's arrogance and ignorance of international affairs. I salute your committment to such ideals as "good" and "right," but your presumption that you have an exclusive (and enforceable) understanding of what defines these ideals IS offensive (and profoundly un-American). I would remind you of the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," and suggest that no one has the right to transgress the sovereignty of a state without sufficient transgression, provocation, and consensus (where that line exists is, of course, open to considerable debate).

Reverse the equation. Under what circumstances would you feel that any other nation (or the U.N.) was right and justified in interfering militarily in the internal affairs of the United States? Or are you just a hypocrite, suggesting that we operate under different rules from all other human beings on the planet and are thus exempt from all criticism and moderation?
posted by rushmc at 9:52 AM on September 22, 2001


These people hate freedom, they hate prosperity and they hate people pursuing happiness on earth. They want to destroy all that is good. And no way should we be "compromising" with such wicked schemes.
Uh-huh. By his own Manichaean logic, Dagny should personally be enlisting in the military to combat this evil that threatens all Western civilization. Why do I have this hunch that he's willing to fight to the last 18-year-old, but only by proxy?

You want to know why there's hostility? Some Americans don't appreciate the mass murder of 7,000 people being used as an excuse to start a new dialogue on the wrongs of American foreign policy.
Jesus, I can't think of a better reason. Just ignoring possible explanations for their deaths would be juvenile and irresponsible.
posted by Allen Varney at 10:10 AM on September 22, 2001


I'm sure you're volunteering to travel to Afghanistan to "negotiate" with Osama right now. And I'm sure you're prepared to be travelling back to the U.S. in a bodybag.

Well, some people are at least willing to go to Afghanistan, if not to negotiate: I will personally go to Aghanistan and teach reading, writing and 'rithmatic to girls and women for two years. Without pay.

Maybe not practical but I love the sentiment.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:45 AM on September 22, 2001


Rather sexist. Seems to me that rather than propagating the sex segregation philosophy of the Taliban, they would want to offer to teach anyone who cared to learn.
posted by rushmc at 11:23 AM on September 22, 2001


Just for the record, seeing how out of hand this thread got:

I don't think anyone disputes the putative thrust of the Salon.com article in the original post -- yes, we should have dialogue and learn to understand how American actions have affected the rest of the world.

What pisses me off is that the writer, while claiming she's against ignorance, runs her mouth about shit she knows nothing about -- "atrocities" and "blood on their hands". Maybe she wants dialogue, but from what she says she wants it with a straw man.

There is a legitimate question, whether or not the U.S. committed some wrongdoing. Yes, the American public should be encouraged to discuss that question. But it's a fucking question, dammit -- what we need is to understand the issues and appreciate how the rest of the world sees it, not throw rhetoric in each other's faces about "yes it's our fault" / "no it isn't" / "yes it is" / "no it isn't" ....

Just look at the reaction to that article in this post and tell me if her piece actually struck a blow against ignorance. Doesn't sound to me like it made a single person here stop and think. And I don't think that's b/c the MeFi community is all that dim.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:39 AM on September 22, 2001


Well, I think some of us have different answers to that question.

My answer (and not just these last two weeks, either) has been that yes, the U.S. has committed some wrongdoing.

But where do I proceed from there? I really don't know.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:01 PM on September 22, 2001


matt - bravo. that was one of the few balanced, even-handed contributions that I've seen to this debate or others like it here on Metafilter.

I don't have a problem with asking these questions and coming to the conclusion that America's actions have contributed to the creation of a climate that gives rise to the kinds of actions we saw on 9/11. But the people who draw up a simple cause/effect equation are not only narrow minded and politically/historically naive, they are just adjusting long held views and oft-stated arguments to fit the current situation, kind of like some universal leftist Mad Lib that has been drug out and flogged every time a debate involving US foreign policy comes up.

In short, the validity of these facts is not the issue. the shallow, trite manipulation of current events for the same old anti-america harangues is. and folks, yes, the jingo redneck flag waving 'carpet bomb the towelheads' stuff out there is just as tired.

to both sides: if you want debate, continue to come out guns blazing, with hyperbole and rhetoric. if you want discussion, drop the ideological preconceptions and behave in a manner befitting the scale of the issues at hand. the rubble of those buildings shouldn't be used as anyone's impromptu soapbox.
posted by hipstertrash at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2001


Jesus, I can't think of a better reason. Just ignoring possible explanations for their deaths would be juvenile and irresponsible.

The problem I have with that view, Allen, is that it lets the psychotic evil motherfuckers who killed 7,000 people participate in the dialogue as if they were a respected part of our civilization, instead of a determined effort to undermine it completely.

If you want to discuss the problems in American foreign policy, do it forward -- tell me where it's going wrong now in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and everywhere else it matters. Telling it backward, with these terrorists as the end of some causal chain of events where the U.S. had it coming to them, gives them power they don't deserve.
posted by rcade at 2:14 PM on September 22, 2001


I'm sure I'll say it all wrong, but....

I can't quite understand why so many patriotic Americans view those who want to examine the actions that have lead up to this tragedy as enemies. And it seems to me that it can only do good to think thoroughly about the state of foreign affairs and the US's involvement in them before we bring bombs into the matter. Is this another example of "shoot first, ask questions later" foreign policy? Do those who are extremely pro-military-action truly believe that, for lack of a better word, pacifists want to blame the whole situation on America? To blame the tragedy solely on America? Do you honestly believe that I, and others with similar political beliefs, thought those 7,000 human beings deserved to die? How heartless do you think I am? I probably grieved as much as you did, but I don't need to prove my grief by showing how willing I am to let the American military do watever Bush feels is necessary.

I'd also like to ask anybody who might read this what THEY feel, specifically, the government should do in this situation. If you are one of the people who said something along the lines of "we have to make sure thiey can never hurt us this way before we talk about foreign policy and causes," HOW will you stop this from happening? By bombing Afghanistan? By capturing Osama Bin Laden, the leader of one of many (both known and as-yet-unknown) terrorist groups? By destroying all the weapons in every single country besides America? Or are you going to let Bush keep spewing his "good vs evil" rhetoric, applauding any and all military action he wants to take?

Along the same lines, if you don't think America should take military action, what SPECIFICALLY do you think we should do instead?

Please help me understand. I'm confused.
posted by girlscantell at 2:16 PM on September 22, 2001


The problem I have with that view, Allen, is that it lets the psychotic evil motherfuckers who killed 7,000 people participate in the dialogue as if they were a respected part of our civilization, instead of a determined effort to undermine it completely.

I understand your point. I would simply suggest that you try to consider the message without feeling the need to legitimize the messengers. Certainly, they should not be allowed to "participate in a dialogue" given their hateful views and barbaric methods--they have placed themselves beyond the pale of all civilized human beings, whatever their own motivations, justifications, or rationalizations; however, they are not the authors of this message, nor of the realities that lie behind it. They have simply brought it to the fore of our attention, through a most condemnable--but essentially irrelevant to the pre-existing and current state of international politics and cultural friction--action.
posted by rushmc at 5:36 PM on September 22, 2001


The point about U.S.-influenced acts of terrorism in other countries is valid, to a point. However, what does any of that have to do with our current situation in regard to the bombing of the World Trade Center and pentagon? Yes, course the U.S. has financed despots, and of course the U.S. has financed wars... but what does any of that have to do with the situation right now? Unless there are people who honestly believe that the lives of 7,000 innocent Americans serves as some sort of "payment" for that, then the answer is nothing. Admittedly, our government is far from innocent. It's amazing to me how everyone who brings that point up acts as if that's some sort of "big secret" that the media have been keeping from us, or that they are some sort of political genius for being on top of it. I would say that, it would be better to not try and use those incidents to justify, or even explain acts of terrorism. The truth of the matter is that the past mistakes of the United States are no giant secret that anyone needs to "expose." An attempt to "expose" the fact that the US government has, in the past, funded terrorists such as Bin Laden is, to a certain degree, nothing more than an attempt to impress others with your knowledge of realpolitik. Should that really come at the expense of your own credibility? And as far as this situation being painted as a "good vs. evil" situation, I fail to see what the problem with that is.

It amazes me that even in situations like this, there are people who continue to criticize President Bush at every opportunity. I'm going to "go out on a limb" here and state that the terrorist attack last Tuesday was "evil." Can you think of anything more poignant and deserving of the title "good" than the people in New York working around the clock cleaning up? So yes, I feel "good" vs "evil" is appropriate. (And I didn't even vote for Bush...) After all, we're not dealing with a Christian vs. Muslim situation, or a United States vs. The Arab Nation situation. (More on this later)

Consider a parallel: during WW2, when the US became involved in the war, we eventually were made aware of the war atrocities being committed in Germany, including the concentration camps. While this may have occurred during a state of war, unlike our current situation, it was no more justifiable because of that fact. Nor was it justifiable because of unfair politics dealt toward the country of Germany following WW2. None of these facts justified the killing of civilians.

If you were on a bulletin board for holocaust survivors, would it be appropriate to bring up the fact that Germany had been dealt an unfair situation in the post-war pacts of Europe? Of course not. The pacts would only serve as a poorly constructed justification for human rights violations, just as US policy mishaps serve as a poorly constructed (not to mention ignorant and reprehensible) justification for the WTC bombings.

The day of the attack, Kofi Annan made a statement (I don't remember the exact wording), along these lines: "No just cause is advanced by acts of terrorism." Besides, none of the countries who have been affected by U.S. involvement have come out in favor of the bombing.

It basically boils down to the fact that U.S. government, the governments of the middle-east, the entire UN security council, and Cuba unilaterally decry the bombings without any attempt to justify them. It seems that the other side consists only of people who wish to prove some sort of point about their own political knowledge and prowess at the expense of 7,000+ innocent victims.

Besides, if the bombings TRULY justified something, then why hasn't anyone taken credit for it? Suppose Bin Laden is behind the bombings. If he won't even take credit for them, what cause has he advanced?

I feel it is necessary to look at Bin Laden's character. Even if Bin Laden is innocent, I wouldn't feel a bit of remorse for having suspected him. He has specifically mentioned that all American citizens are to be considered targets, a mere week before the attacks occurred. Bin Laden is a reclusive millionaire who trains terrorists. He holds no positions within the religion of Islam, nor is he a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. This is all well documented, and admitted by Bin Laden himself. Therefore even if American intervention could be used as an excuse for the bombing, what exactly is he retaliating against? Fighting in the Palestinian region? I find it hard to believe that a reclusive millionaire serving as a guest of the Afghani Taliban can honestly speak for the opressed Palestinian proletariat. If anything, he has delayed any action pertaining to a Palestinian homeland. Aggression against those of the Islam faith? Also hard to believe, considering the fact that Islamic leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the bombings. A friend of mine is a recent (5-6 years ago) Sudanese expatriate, and also a Muslim. He stated very firmly that he believes Islamic extremism is in direct opposition to the teachings of the Koran, a sentiment echoed by many Muslim leaders.

If Bin Laden was retaliating, for whom was he retaliating? The Islamic faith wants nothing to do with the attacks... the Palestinians want nothing to do with the attack (Arafat has made several statements condemning the attack)... If he were really concerned about the nation of Palestine and the Islamic faith, I'm sure he could put his millions of dollars to better use. I can see this as nothing but a selfish act.

When you consider these things, US foreign policy and the "need" to advance liberal politics really seem quite inconsequential. I doubt if those thoughts are on the minds of the relatives of the victims. I doubt those thoughts are on the minds of firemen and rescue workers sifting through metal looking for human corpses.

My own personal politics lean to the left. And maybe yours' do too. Considering what is going on in New York right now, I would feel pretty sick for taking this opportunity to advance my political beliefs or showing off my knowledge of US foreign policy issues. To do either would be a futile attempt to remove the human aspect from the forum of politics.
posted by StDaedalus at 1:56 AM on September 23, 2001


The point about U.S.-influenced acts of terrorism in other countries is valid, to a point. However, what does any of that have to do with our current situation in regard to the bombing of the World Trade Center and pentagon?

I don't think it has anything to do with it, because these extremists are capable of coming up with their own rationalizations for evil that have nothing to do with the U.S.

An example from Saturday's New York Times, describing protests in Pakistan:
Finally speeches began. But some listeners let their attention drift. They were looking at the latest article in an Urdu newspaper, an update on a story a great many people here believe: that Jews were responsible for the attacks on the United States.

In one reprinted version, attributed to a Middle Eastern newspaper, 4,000 Jews had jobs at the World Trade Center, "but not a single Jew was reported dead in the attacks, and now American officials are investigating as to how these people got their advance information and did not come to work."

That grotesque scenario, with no basis in fact, is believed by many Afghans and Pakistanis, whose world view is stunningly different from that of their Western counterparts.

"How can it be explained that not a single Jew was killed?" asked Sher Hyder, a man who lives in a refugee settlement. He did not doubt what he had read in print.
In a society where outrageous lies like that are accepted, I have my doubts that the terrorists of Sept. 11 were inspired to action by reading the works of Noah Chomsky.
posted by rcade at 4:21 AM on September 23, 2001


I'm going to "go out on a limb" here and state that the terrorist attack last Tuesday was "evil." Can you think of anything more poignant and deserving of the title "good" than the people in New York working around the clock cleaning up?

The point of peace activism is not saying that 9.11 was "good." 9.11 was an evil, horrifying, and terrifying act. Because it was an evil, horrifying and terrifying act we need to be really cautious about inflicting similar evil, horrifying and terrifying acts on others.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2001


None of these facts justified the killing of civilians.

Can you support this contention? Or is it just what you feel to be true?

Yes, course the U.S. has financed despots, and of course the U.S. has financed wars...

You say that so blithely...doesn't it bother you at all?

...but what does any of that have to do with the situation right now?

Well, it helped create the environment in which people could feel sufficiently put upon to plot and carry out the kind of actions we saw in NYC and DC in protest and retaliation, so I'd say the link is real, obvious, and more causal than correlated.

I'm going to "go out on a limb" here and state that the terrorist attack last Tuesday was "evil." Can you think of anything more poignant and deserving of the title "good" than the people in New York working around the clock cleaning up? So yes, I feel "good" vs "evil" is appropriate.

We risk getting into semantics here, but it seems to me that any strict "good vs evil" model is inevitably going to be simplistic. It imposes a top-down, ex post facto assessment to human motivation that rarely captures or describes the gestalt. e.g., It is, most all of us would agree, a "good" that so many people in NYC spontaneously jumped in to help look for survivors and help their neighbors. But what about those who made up stories of survivors being found just to appear on tv? Or those described as graverobbers? This paints a fuller picture, with the multiple tints and shades with which reality is composed. "Good" or "evil" should be shorthand descriptors of our overall assessment of something, after its complexity and details have been studied and analyzed and (one hopes) understood; too often, however, we tend to use them as dumbed down absolutes, as if they had any meaning on their own separate from that with which we imbue them.

If you were on a bulletin board for holocaust survivors, would it be appropriate to bring up the fact that Germany had been dealt an unfair situation in the post-war pacts of Europe? Of course not.

Au contraire, I think it would depend upon the tone and intent of the board and its users. If it existed strictly to allow users to express statements of regret and sympathy or condemnations of the Nazis, to post addresses to which donations might be sent, personal accounts of deathcamp experiences, pictures of religious or patriotic iconography--then I would agree, it would be inappropriate and insensitive to attempt to introduce a thread of political and cultural analysis. On the other hand, however, if it were an open forum discussing all aspects of the holocaust, then it seems reasonable to assume the appropriateness of any attempts to understand (and perhaps, to the extent possible, come to terms with) how this horror had come to be--if for no other reason than to formulate ways to keep any future repeats from occurring.

When you consider these things, US foreign policy and the "need" to advance liberal politics really seem quite inconsequential. I doubt if those thoughts are on the minds of the relatives of the victims. I doubt those thoughts are on the minds of firemen and rescue workers sifting through metal looking for human corpses.

Again, I disagree. I strongly suspect that in many cases such issues ARE on the minds of those most personally involved. Grieving does not necessarily preclude thinking, and it is human nature to grasp for understanding of any trauma, to attempt to contextualize it in order to form some frame of reference for the outrageous and unacceptable.

I would feel pretty sick for taking this opportunity to advance my political beliefs or showing off my knowledge of US foreign policy issues. To do either would be a futile attempt to remove the human aspect from the forum of politics.

One final difference of opinion. I don't think that your skewed representation of people's behavior as "taking this opportunity to advance my political beliefs" and "showing off my knowledge of US foreign policy issues" accurately or fairly represents what people are trying to do. People want to understand, and quite naturally seek dialogues with others as a way of trying to come to grips with what has happened. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and so this dialogue inevitably, for the intellectually honest, will extend beyond the simple facts of what happened and seek context, causes, and (eventually) closure. I don't think it would be any service to the deceased to collapse with our grief over their fate, or to ignore the geopolitical ramifications of what happened to them, treating the incident as though it were the result of an earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster. This is not a natural disaster; rather, it is a very human disaster, and therefore something that we should be able to understand and, perhaps, control.
posted by rushmc at 7:37 AM on September 23, 2001


You actually believe the contention that the WTC bombing was not justified requires support?
posted by quercus at 11:01 AM on September 23, 2001


None of these facts justified the killing of civilians.

Can you support this contention? Or is it just what you feel to be true?


Wow. I'm not even sure how to respond to that... Let me just say that the unwritten moral laws of humanity support that "contention."

Yes, course the U.S. has financed despots, and of course the U.S. has financed wars...

You say that so blithely...doesn't it bother you at all?


Yes, it has bothered me in the past. But like I said before, it's not worth bringing it up now, as it can in no way serve to JUSTIFY the attacks. Besides, the financing of terrorists and despots very rarely comes down to the "good" vs. "evil" scenario, especially when it involves different sides of a religious dispute. Often times those decisions are made along the lines of avoiding bigger problems in the long run. But does it bother me? If you can name me one country that has a "perfect" record in foreign policy, I would be interested in hearing it.

...but what does any of that have to do with the situation right now?

Well, it helped create the environment in which people could feel sufficiently put upon to plot and carry out the kind of actions we saw in NYC and DC in protest and retaliation, so I'd say the link is real, obvious, and more causal than correlated.


Terrorists don't need a justifiable excuse. Unfortunately, in the real world, selfish interest will always be a factor in human situations. Besides, as to the whole idea of retaliation, I answered that in the middle section of my last post. Unfortunately you had no comments for that section.

It is, most all of us would agree, a "good" that so many people in NYC spontaneously jumped in to help look for survivors and help their neighbors. But what about those who made up stories of survivors being found just to appear on tv?

This is really very inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. So for something to be considered "good", in your opinion, it is necessary for it to be without a single negative element within it? No wonder you have such a hard time with the "good" vs. "evil" concept. Nothing is ever absolute, nor does that assessment attempt to explain it as such. As for the stories you mention above, for every one of those stories there are 20 that negate it. It's extremely petty to present that with the intent of debunking the merits of the clean-up efforts.

If you were on a bulletin board for holocaust survivors, would it be appropriate to bring up the fact that Germany had been dealt an unfair situation in the post-war pacts of Europe? Of course not.

Au contraire, I think it would depend upon the tone and intent of the board and its users.


I completely, 100% disagree. It would be absolutely inappropriate. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I were the sort of person to do that. In any holocaust discussion, it would be inappropriate. If it were a World War 2 discussion, then perhaps. But no amount of explanation and reasoning would serve to justify the inhumanity of the situation. And the concept of pacifying terrorists and madmen to prevent further attempts is frightening.

Again, I disagree. I strongly suspect that in many cases such issues ARE on the minds of those most personally involved.

I strongly disagree. I doubt if a single fireman is giving thought to the possibility that the attacks were in any way justifiable. You mention being upset at different US foreign policy issues, yet I never hear you talking about possible "justification" for those events.

People want to understand, and quite naturally seek dialogues with others as a way of trying to come to grips with what has happened.

Do you believe that humans ever commit acts of senseless violence? Do you believe that events are sometimes inexcusable? I certainly do, and I believe that the bombings last Tuesday qualify under this category. If there was any possible justification or logical reason for the attacks, then why hasn't anyone claimed responsibility?

This is not a natural disaster; rather, it is a very human disaster, and therefore something that we should be able to understand and, perhaps, control.

All this fits in with my previous point. Don't you believe that people ever do things for purely selfish reasons? As I stated in my last post, neither the Palestinian government nor the Islamic faith want anything to do with the attacks. If anything, their causes have been set back due to the fact that people unrelated to the cause (like yourself) insist that the terrorists were carrying out the attacks on their behalf. If the people involved don't want to be tied to it, who are we to force it upon them?

I don't think it would be any service to the deceased to collapse with our grief over their fate, or to ignore the geopolitical ramifications of what happened to them, treating the incident as though it were the result of an earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster.

I have no problem with an open dialogue considering the ramifications of the attack, nor does anyone to my knowledge. I suspect you might have been misusing the word. "Ramifications" refer to the consequences of an action. Am I correct in assuming that you meant to say "implications"?
posted by StDaedalus at 12:15 PM on September 23, 2001


You actually believe the contention that the WTC bombing was not justified requires support?

That wasn't what I was responding to, quercus. The claim he had made was that the killing of civilians was somehow morally off-limits or in a separate category from the killing of designated soldiers. His example was from WWII, not the WTC bombing, but it was not so much the specific example I was responding to but rather the implied (and stated) assumption about civilians.
posted by rushmc at 12:43 PM on September 23, 2001


to state it very baldly:

from my point of view, there is no material difference between losing your child in the fireball created when a fanatic flies a commercial airliner into a skyscraper, and losing your child in the fireball created when a US serviceman drops a bomb on your city.

I don't think the US "deserves" what happened to us (neither do I think the civilians who comprise the collateral damage of our many actions "deserved" it); but I do think that 9.11 is a logical consequence of US policies and actions over the last 50 years.

that's not to justify or legitimize either of the cases I just cited.

but it's not hard for me to see how, from another side, it might look like the US has been at war with certain governments for some time; and how it might be easy to make a pattern out of that, wherein those governments are all islamic.

if I were iraqi, for example, I might discount military actions that did not involve muslims. (that's the way conspiracy theories work, in an extreme case.)

if I were, for example, iraqi, I also would have my news filtered through the government, so my facts would be more limited still.

so, I'm not talking about whether the US (or the iraqi people) deserved the death that was dealt on them.

and I'm talking about military and policy actions from, say, fifty years ago right up to the present. a combination of misjudgements, well-intentioned mistakes, and unquestionably bad behavior, in whatever mixture your view paints all those actions and reactions.

it's not unpatriotic or in poor taste to examine all of those decisions with a new eye: in fact, I'd say it's a good survial tactic.

it's not unpatriotic to wake up one morning and say to yourself, "say! all those things might be more serious than I thought they were!", to re-examine your government's behavior in the light of new information.

it's not unpatriotic to want your government to uphold its own highest ideals in responding to the events of 9.11.

it's kind of stupid to just assert that what happens was so bad that we have a clean slate starting right now, and we don't have to answer for anything unjust or horrific we may have done in that past.

if it really worked that way, actually, things would be good now, we wouldn't have anything more to worry about. but we need to take action in a way that will not spawn more terrorists, and we need to closely examine whether our current policies were helping to recruit them through 9.10.

we also need to honestly examine the cases in which our own actions have not lived up to our own ideals. we need to take responsibility for the things we have done which were horrific and without honor. there have been some.

the main thing is that the stakes are higher now. I have my own moral reasons for wanting a reasoned and lawful response, but on a very practical level, it's not even a matter of revenge or justice so much as survival.

we need to tread carefully and, as much as we can, fully understand what we have been doing and how that has been experienced by others if we hope to get out of this.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2001


The killing of civilians during a wartime is a different situation. The killing of civilians in a sneak attack is a cowardly and indefensible act.

The fact that you were responding to my WWII analogy and not the WTC situation is even more frightening. I can't believe I actually have to explain this: Yes, I believe that the killing of Jews in concentration camps was wrong. If that makes me a moralist, then fine. And if you feel that their deaths can be justified by the post-WWI sanctions on Germany, then I can't possibly see us being able to discuss the current situation.
posted by StDaedalus at 1:03 PM on September 23, 2001


Wow. I'm not even sure how to respond to that... Let me just say that the unwritten moral laws of humanity support that "contention."

I strongly disagree. Read more history and get back to me.

Yes, it has bothered me in the past. But like I said before, it's not worth bringing it up now, as it can in no way serve to JUSTIFY the attacks.

And no one is suggesting that it does. Are you truly incapable of distinguishing between the concepts of "explaining" and "justifying?" This blind spot that you and others seem to have mystifies me.

Terrorists don't need a justifiable excuse.

You're attempting to demonize them. I assure you, the terrorists, rightly or wrongly (I think we would all agree wrongly), feel that their choices and actions are justified. They are human beings and still function within the same parameters that we all do, albeit at the FAR extreme end of the spectrum.

So for something to be considered "good", in your opinion, it is necessary for it to be without a single negative element within it? No wonder you have such a hard time with the "good" vs. "evil" concept...As for the stories you mention above, for every one of those stories there are 20 that negate it. It's extremely petty to present that with the intent of debunking the merits of the clean-up efforts.

Actually, that is just the opposite of what I am saying. MY argument is that the notions of pure and unadulterated "good" or "evil" are simplistic and false, that there is always a measure of both. And I don't see how you are getting "debunking the merits of the clean-up efforts" from my comments. Again you seem to be thinking in "all-or-nothing" terms.

I completely, 100% disagree. It would be absolutely inappropriate. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I were the sort of person to do that. In any holocaust discussion, it would be inappropriate. If it were a World War 2 discussion, then perhaps. But no amount of explanation and reasoning would serve to justify the inhumanity of the situation.

I totally 100% disagree with you, as well, on this point.

And the concept of pacifying terrorists and madmen to prevent further attempts is frightening.

I agree. Who is suggesting such a course of action to you?

I doubt if a single fireman is giving thought to the possibility that the attacks were in any way justifiable.

I won't respond to your "justifiable" straw man anymore. I don't feel obliged to respond to disagreement with positions I have not advocated.

Do you believe that humans ever commit acts of senseless violence?

No.

Do you believe that events are sometimes inexcusable?

Not events, but choices, actions, yes, which I think is what you're getting at.

If there was any possible justification or logical reason for the attacks, then why hasn't anyone claimed responsibility?

Again, ignoring the "justification" nonsense, there most certainly ARE logical reasons for the attacks! Morally sustainable reasons? I would definitely say no, but the logic for them is quite consistent (logic and morality have tenuous connections at best). And, equally clearly, the reason that no one has claimed responsibility for the acts is that it does not advance their cause or further their strategy to do so at this time. Where's the mystery there?

Don't you believe that people ever do things for purely selfish reasons?

Of course! But "selfishness" implies a strong sense of self-interest, and is therefore quite different from "senseless," which is the word you used above.

If anything, their causes have been set back due to the fact that people unrelated to the cause (like yourself) insist that the terrorists were carrying out the attacks on their behalf.

Where, precisely, have I suggested that?

Am I correct in assuming that you meant to say "implications"?

Definitely not implications, though those should of course be considered too. Ramifications should be examined, but what I was referring to more was, I suppose, antecedents.
posted by rushmc at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2001


The killing of civilians during a wartime is a different situation. The killing of civilians in a sneak attack is a cowardly and indefensible act.

But they had overtly declared war on us. If we chose to ignore that and giggle at their temerity, that IS our fault.

Again, I will not respond to your "justification" remarks, even in the altered context of WWII.
posted by rushmc at 1:10 PM on September 23, 2001


Yes, Rebecca, you are correct. That was stated very badly.

To call me a patriotic American would be a joke. However, the discussion of the morality of US foreign policy at a time like this would only serve one purpose: to justify the actions of the terrorists. In no way am I suggesting that it is your intent to do so.

The problem is that everyone is making the presumption that the bombings were done in retaliation for US foreign policy in the Middle-East. Here's my question: how do you know? If you ask me, assuming the motives and justifications of the terrorists based SOLELY on the fact that they were of middle-Eastern descent is racist. If the killers were white supremacists from the midwest, would you be attempting to start an "honest and open dialogue" about the oppression of white Americans by other races? Would you be talking about "Mexicans stealing jobs from hard-working white Americans?" Of course not, or at least I would hope not. How is it any different to espouse the racist propaganda held by Bin Laden and others? It's a well-documented fact that white supremacists believe that they are being oppressed by US foreign and domestic policy. Does that mean we should start into an open dialogue about the "cleansing of impurities from the white race?" Should we sit and nod our heads thoughtfully as they talk about the way they believe the government is run by "corrupt Jews?" Of course not.

Why is it that the situation I just mentioned is deplorable to liberal Americans (including myself), yet the idea of doing the exact same thing with terrorists from the mid-East is acceptable?

Unless some group takes credit for the attacks, we have no reason to make racial assumptions that the bombings were done in the name of Palestine or Islam. Last I checked, both groups were denouncing the attacks. Why is it so hard to believe that there are selfish people in this world who act in their own selfish interests? Why must we attempt to justify or explain terrorist acts with our own assumptions about what people from the Middle-East think about the US? After all, your ideas on that come from the same media that you denounce now. The Mid-East expatriates that I have talked to since the bombings have a much different viewpoint than the stereotypical one that it thrown around on messageboards.

We have no reason to engage in foreign policy discussions with every group who randomly kills civilians. If every time something like this happens it spurs a national debate over whether or not the actions are justified, we are inviting similar attacks in the future. We can't afford to give the impression that terrorism is a means of negotation.
posted by StDaedalus at 1:24 PM on September 23, 2001


But they had overtly declared war on us. If we chose to ignore that and giggle at their temerity, that IS our fault.

Again, I will not respond to your "justification" remarks, even in the altered context of WWII.


Of course you won't respond. What would you have to say?

And your comment about how "they" declared war on us... are you saying that if *I* came up with a way that the American government has upset me personally (and I assure you, it wouldn't be difficult), I would automatically be entered into the stage of serious geopolitical debate? That's a dangerous thought. I doubt you would give the same consideration to groups that bomb abortion clinics. I'm sure they have also "declared war" on the US, but I don't choose to justify their causes either.

Besides, who are you to tell me what the motives on the terrorists are? You continually ignore the fact that Palestine and the Islamic religion condemn the bombings, and you choose to ignore the fact that the causes of BOTH groups have been set back because people like you have decided to CHOOSE the motives of the terrorists.
posted by StDaedalus at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2001


I strongly disagree. Read more history and get back to me.

I've read my history. Hitler was wrong.

Oh no, I've made a moral judgment! I've confirmed my ties with humanity! It won't wash off...

Go to New York and help search for bodies and get back to me.
posted by StDaedalus at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2001


StDaedalus: I've been asking at every turn for the evidence that bin laden was behind the attacks.

I don't really trust the info we're getting through our media, but I have been assuming (perhaps wrongly) that since the men who committed the crimes were listed with arabic names on the passenger manifests, flight attendants and airport workers would have noticed if they were WASPs.

so, I've concluded that the usual suspects are worth looking at. (but I reject the common wisdom that bin laden is definately to blame. the jury is out on that one as far as I'm concerned.)

(it would be interesting, wouldn't it, if they turned out to be US militia men? I mean, what would the government *do* then?)

agreed, if some militiamen (yesterday's boogeymen, may I just point out) were bombing buildings because mexican workers were taking their jobs, you'd prety much reject their argument.

the key there is that you *listen* to the complaint, and then you judge whether it is valid. in other words, you work to understand the attacker's point of view in order to accurately judge whether or not it is a valid point of view.

just because someone does something terrible, doesn't mean that you didn't do something horrible, too.

agreed, you can't let terrorism become an opening for dialogue, but one way to do that is to open up avenues of dialogue all on your own.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:43 PM on September 23, 2001


However, the discussion of the morality of US foreign policy at a time like this would only serve one purpose: to justify the actions of the terrorists.

What an audaciously false statement!

We have no reason to engage in foreign policy discussions with every group who randomly kills civilians.

Perhaps this is the point that has you so utterly confused. The discussion is NOT with the terrorists, but rather amongst ourselves.

I doubt you would give the same consideration to groups that bomb abortion clinics. I'm sure they have also "declared war" on the US, but I don't choose to justify their causes either.

To my knowledge, they most certainly have NOT. And they hardly represent the threat that Islamic fundamentalists do. If they did, then I should certainly hope we would take them seriously.

Besides, who are you to tell me what the motives on the terrorists are?

Well, it's not too difficult to extrapolate from THEIR OWN WIDELY PUBLISHED STATEMENTS on the matter. You seem to be in denial about that, and about anything that contradicts your presuppositions. Your suggestion that the Palestinians or various random Muslims can somehow negate or invalidate the terrorists motives--they have no more ability to do that than WE do!
posted by rushmc at 1:45 PM on September 23, 2001


You're attempting to demonize them. I assure you, the terrorists, rightly or wrongly (I think we would all agree wrongly), feel that their choices and actions are justified. They are human beings and still function within the same parameters that we all do, albeit at the FAR extreme end of the spectrum.

No need for me to demonize them. 7000 innocent lives have done that for me. And no, terrorists don't need an excuse. Why is that so hard to fathom? Consider this: I could go through all the steps of attempting an act of terrorism. It is theoretically possible I could follow through, and take the lives of thousands of people. I have absolutely no motive. But I have the physical ability to do so, even without that. So who are you to decide what the motives of the terrorists were?

Actually, that is just the opposite of what I am saying. MY argument is that the notions of pure and unadulterated "good" or "evil" are simplistic and false, that there is always a measure of both

No one, except for you perhaps, is suggesting that something must be black and white. I illustrated this point, if you had bothered to read it, when I said that although there are stories of people taking advantage of the tragedy (selling pieces of the towers on e-bay, etc), the cleanup effort is still a GOOD thing. I don't know why you choose to ignore the words I'm actually saying. If I say a situation deals with good and evil, it doesn't necessitate 100% on each side, nor did I ever claim that it did.

I completely, 100% disagree. It would be absolutely inappropriate. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I were the sort of person to do that. In any holocaust discussion, it would be inappropriate. If it were a World War 2 discussion, then perhaps. But no amount of explanation and reasoning would serve to justify the inhumanity of the situation.

I totally 100% disagree with you, as well, on this point.


Sort of sits at odds with your earlier statement:

"On the other hand, however, if it were an open forum discussing all aspects of the holocaust, then it seems reasonable to assume the appropriateness of any attempts to understand (and perhaps, to the extent possible, come to terms with) how this horror had come to be--if for no other reason than to formulate ways to keep any future repeats from occurring."

Keep in mind that your statement above was made in response to my point about bringing the subject up to a group of holocause survivors. You can double-check if you don't believe me; I don't feel like covering your tracks for you.

And the concept of pacifying terrorists and madmen to prevent further attempts is frightening.

I agree. Who is suggesting such a course of action to you?


Well, it's definitely implied in statements like this:

"it seems reasonable to assume the appropriateness of any attempts to understand (and perhaps, to the extent possible, come to terms with) how this horror had come to be--if for no other reason than to formulate ways to keep any future repeats from occurring."

Do you believe that humans ever commit acts of senseless violence?

No.


If I walked across the street and shot my neighbor, where is the sense in that? I certainly wouldn't be the first person to have ever committed a senseless act. If you honestly believe that human never commit senseless acts of violence, then I have no way to establish dialogue with you. If you refuse to believe something as universal as that, it would only be a waste of my time to even wander into "grey areas." "Senseless" would be an accurate way to describe the situation I described above. Having some sort of vague self-interest, such as "he parked in front of my house" would not change that.

If there was any possible justification or logical reason for the attacks, then why hasn't anyone claimed responsibility?

Again, ignoring the "justification" nonsense, there most certainly ARE logical reasons for the attacks! Morally sustainable reasons? I would definitely say no, but the logic for them is quite consistent (logic and morality have tenuous connections at best).

I wish you would think about what the word justification meant, instead of taking it out of complex and treating it as a method to ignore any content to a statement. My use of the word here had NOTHING to do with you, so could you please stop the self-righteous pandering? How can a reason be logically reasonable if it is not morally reasonable? If we divorce the connection between morality and logic, then we invite terrorism. Morality should serve as the stepping stone to logic. I don't believe you can bypass it and call it reasonable, or justifiable.

If anything, their causes have been set back due to the fact that people unrelated to the cause (like yourself) insist that the terrorists were carrying out the attacks on their behalf.

Where, precisely, have I suggested that?


Well, you were one who claimed that there were logical reasons for what happened. If no group has claimed responsibility, then why are we talking about US foreign policy being a logical explanation for what happened? I haven't heard anyone say that their group committed the bombing in response to that. So who are we to second-guess their motives? For all we know, it was done on a whim. And no, it's not unfair to say this. If you commit terrorist acts without any taking any sort of credit for it, you leave yourself wide open to criticism about the selfish reasons for which you have committed them.
posted by StDaedalus at 2:05 PM on September 23, 2001


Well, it's not too difficult to extrapolate from THEIR OWN WIDELY PUBLISHED STATEMENTS on the matter. You seem to be in denial about that, and about anything that contradicts your presuppositions. Your suggestion that the Palestinians or various random Muslims can somehow negate or invalidate the terrorists motives--they have no more ability to do that than WE do!

I must have missed the "The World Trade Center Terrorists: In Their Own Words" issue of Newsweek. Besides, if you can think of any motive that would "validate" (or "justify") the lives of these innocent civilians, then go! Find a spot on national TV. Speak to the masses. I'm anxiously awaiting to hear it. Nothing can "validate" it in my mind, and nothing you could say would change that.

Well, it's not too difficult to extrapolate from THEIR OWN WIDELY PUBLISHED STATEMENTS on the matter

Again, could you send me links to their personal homepages? The last time I checked, no group had taken responsibility. Perhaps they sent you postcards, I'm not sure. I certainly haven't seem these statements from the terrorists.
posted by StDaedalus at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2001


StDaedalus, either you are the most illogical person I have ever encountered (and that's saying something), or you are a troll. In either case, I cannot continue this dialogue with you, as none of your statements make ANY sense to me at this point. I'm done here.
posted by rushmc at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2001


Last I checked, trolling involved posting one short message in the hopes to play devil's advocate and stir debate. I have spent far too much time and effort to be classified as such. If you would like examples however, feel free to look through the comments on this post. Take a look at some of the people who have posted just one comment. Then take a look at their comments on other boards. You'll find that they have done it on other boards as well. If you look at mine, you'll see that I have a grand (and final) total of 8 comments on 1 board.

If not having taken (or wasted) the time to post *629* times on a metafilter board makes me a troll, then so be it.
posted by StDaedalus at 2:39 PM on September 23, 2001


Mr. Grusha, you are still one of the most stubborn people I know.

You know that in the past I've urged you before to remove your I-know-what-is-moral-and-what-is-right colored glasses. I don't suppose that's going to change anytime soon.

"Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it." THAT is the phrase that keeps the study of the past from being nothing more than

Maybe we don't have to engage in debate with the terrorists. Maybe we can debate our foreign policy with the innocent Middle Easterners whose lives we play a large part in (whether or not you think now is the time to think about it, it is.) Maybe we can debate our foreign policy with the natives of Chile, or Vietnam, or Saudi Arabia, or Britain, or any of the myriad other countries who are looking upon our patriotism with trepidation. What it comes down to is that something has to change, or disasters like these may happen again. We can discover that something needs to change after we bomb the middle east for a couple decades (either making yet more enemies out of Middle Easterners and the rest of the world or killing all who might possibly harbor violent feelings towards America) or we can try to stop the bloodshed before it starts.

America is still the same country it was before this tragedy. The problems are all still here, the act of terrorism did not make the problems in the way we treat others irrelevant. In fact, they made the need to understand these problems even more pressing, because mending the ill feelings of millions of people (Islam is the largest religion in the world) will NOT be accomplished by bombing them until they face starvation and poverty. We have already accomplished that. We have used force on this region for decades, and you can see for yourself how well that worked. If you can give me a plausible scenario in which American military action would result in safety from terrorism, do so now.

And I'm going to try to restrain myself from coming back to this thread, because your bitterness and insults will surely be directed at me now.

That's all.
posted by girlscantell at 5:26 PM on September 23, 2001


girlscantell, I do hope you're not seriously planting a bomb and running for cover -- so if you are still here, pls. acknowledge at some point.

First, it's far from clear to me that we've bombed anyone into starvation and poverty -- we haven't really bombed Middle Eastern populatons that much, unless you know sthing I don't. Even the sanctions against Iraq haven't necessarily caused starvation -- ships have been intercepted coming from Iraq laden with foodstuffs, since the sanctions started. Our fault, or Sadam's? You tell me.

As for "a plausible scenario in which American military action would result in safety from terrorism", I have one or two in which it would, at least, help:

1. Some countries won't believe us when we say we won't forgive any further aid to terrorist activity. Some of those countries will get caught. If we make them pay, the others might be a little more reluctant. And so will the ones that got caught.

2. Here's another. Some countries will insist on giving any aid they can afford to terrorists, no matter what our threats. If we attack them, they won't have the resources to help the terrorists anyway -- they'll be too busy trying to protect themselves from us and from civil unrest.

3. Let's try one more. Some countries might be afraid that, even though they don't actually support terrorist activity, terrorists operating in their countries might attract U.S. military action. They will decide, wait a second, that would suck. Maybe we should discourage those terrorists from getting all of us blown off the face of the earth -- and either shut them down, turn them over, or kick them the hell out of town.

How do those sound to you, girl?

P.S. I by no means think military action can stand alone or even is desirable, if it at all can be avoided. But it may be necessary, like it or not.
posted by mattpfeff at 6:06 PM on September 23, 2001


I think our disagreement, mattpfeff, is just a difference in the way we think the recipient of our military force will react. And that's, really, personal opinion. I believe that by attacking or staving out the countries that may harbor terrorists, we will simply create more hate, and more of an environment in which terrorist groups can flourish. I think that for a country that has little to lose (except their lives, and death doesn't mean quit the same thing to some Muslim fundamentalists that it does to us), hurting them more will just result in their deaths. (And if we didn't help the people of Afghanistan before terrorism became a serious issue, do you really think we'll provide aid to them after the threat is over? We often seem to forget about a country after they no longer pose a threat to us.)

I agree that countries who support terrorism (please give me more examples of this) should be reprimanded, but the idea of killing their citizens seems like it would cause more anger, rather than make them reconsider their preexisting policies. If you don't believe me, take a look at the reaction of most American citizens to the WTC bombing.
posted by girlscantell at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2001


by attacking or staving out the countries that may harbor terrorists, we will simply create more hate

yes, but also you slant your statement. How about rephrasing it:

"if we attack the countries that do harbor terrorists, one of the consequences will be more hate"

Isn't that more accurate? Then, yes, that is one price we must pay. But it's also one we can redress in other ways, by offering economic assistance to other Middle Eastern countries, say. That is, this is an important issue but we can help mitigate the effects.

You also add:

... and more of an environment in which terrorist groups can flourish

This I don't agree with -- if we help the countries that help us fight terrorism, and disable those that help the terrorists, there will be fewer safe havens for them.

(Also, by the way, we have been helping the people of Afghanistan -- right now the Taliban is trying to get rid of U.N. aid workers because they think they're a security risk.)

I completely agree, however, that we should try and avoid killing civillians. I just wanted to note that there is a value to military action, which you were rather skeptical (ahem) of in your post. As for whether or not, on the whole, military action is advisable, I just don't know. I honestly hope that every country helps fight against terrorismm and we don't have to find out.
posted by mattpfeff at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2001


But why should I watch my syntax when someone like you can just correct it all for me? :)

Few things are simply black or simply white. Just because I don't advocate military action in the sense that Congress seems to be itching for doesn't mean I don't believe we shouldn't find and punish the specific individuals who perpetrated the hijacking. Just because I state my comment in a particular way doesn't mean I don't realize that hate is only ONE of many consequences. And just because I think that now, before we take rash military action in the name of "freedom", is an acceptable time to look closely at the way our decisions in the past have helped create our current situation doesn't mean I am in any way condoning terrorism. Too many people seem to want to oversimplify or ignore the US's role in foreign affairs.

I am absolutely pro-helping-the-countries that help us fight terrorism. (please explain to me how you would disable the countries that don't fight terrorism, when the corrupt leaders will alawys find a way to get weapons and food as the citizens die in the streets) I simply disagree with you on the results military action against an entire country will produce.

I get the feeling I'm just repeating myself.
posted by girlscantell at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2001


Apologies if I seemed to misinterpret -- the only statement of yours I really felt compelled to respond to was, from earlier, "If you can give me a plausible scenario in which American military action would result in safety from terrorism, do so now." I think there are several such scenarios, as I said.

I agree with you otherwise, that military action would have a high cost, not least of which is the possibility that it will foster more hatred and encourage further terrorist acts, in addition to inevitably inflicting casualties; it should be something we do only reluctantly, and with better awareness of its effect on the rest of the world. But there are also benefits to it, that's all I was saying.

I think, in retrospect, I should have been clearer about how much I agreed with most of what you said....
posted by mattpfeff at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2001


Thank you. I respect your opinions, and agree with the ones we share. No hard feelings.
posted by girlscantell at 8:34 PM on September 23, 2001


I don't think the US "deserves" what happened to us (neither do I think the civilians who comprise the collateral damage of our many actions "deserved" it); but I do think that 9.11 is a logical consequence of US policies and actions over the last 50 years.

Show me where logic is being applied in the world of rabid Islamic fundamentalism. In Pakistan, many of the angriest anti-U.S. protesters believe Israel masterminded the attack and gave 4,000 Jews in the WTC two hours' advance warning, allowing all of them to escape alive, according to the New York Times.
posted by rcade at 8:39 PM on September 23, 2001


rcade: as I understand it, that rumor was flying around the internet here in the USA, too.
posted by rebeccablood at 8:51 PM on September 23, 2001


Aaron: "How can you talk about these things without talking about the context in which they occurred?".



You cannot seriously be proposing moral relativity here? Don't make me pull Godwin's Law on you.

I did not write the sentence you quoted me as saying above. Mattpfeff did.
posted by aaron at 11:21 PM on September 23, 2001



Your blatant bias destroys your credibility.

This means SO much in light of all your posts in this thread, which reek of ideological bias.

I truly don't understand the motivation of posters like yourself who are so determined to twist the debate into the false and perverse form of "anyone interested in seeking context for this incident is automatically blaming US for it."

Read rcade's posts in this thread; they stand as the perfect response to your accusation. The article this thread is based on IS automatically blaming the US for it.

You and your ilk are the ONLY ones I've seen make these silly and objectionable claims.

Well, of course. That's because you're rejecting your own feelings of guilt. (Freud called it transference...)

Can you truly not see and admit that NOTHING happens in a vacuum, including this attack, and that understanding the context that produced it in a more than simplistic way is an important part of any attempt to prevent similar events in the future?

Yes, I see it and fully admit it, as I always have even before this thread. That article, however, is not about understanding the context; it's about blaming the victim. And whether you disagree with my calling her Poor Starving Iraqis claim a "lefty canard" or not, it doesn't change the basic fact: She's lying. Saddam is killing Iraqis by withholding food and medical care, not the United States.
posted by aaron at 11:38 PM on September 23, 2001



we need to tread carefully and, as much as we can, fully understand what we have been doing and how that has been experienced by others if we hope to get out of this.

The main problem with this POV is that it automatically grants full legitimacy to the viewpoints and beliefs of any individual or group of individuals that manages to gather enough up enough weaponry to kill United States citizens ... regardless of whether those viewpoints or beliefs have any true inherent value. It's almost moral-relativism-by-proxy; they've proved they can hurt us, thus they must be equal to us on some level.

Since Godwin's Law's already been invoked on this thread, I'll just use the easiest analogy: What if it was a neo-Hitler instead of Islamic terrorists? Just a neo-Nazi hidden somewhere in Europe, who's only desire was to get us for "supporting the Jews," either via support for Israel or merely for allowing Jews to be American citizens. The United States has a 60-year history of supporting Israel, and, yes, often doing so via "a combination of misjudgements, well-intentioned mistakes, and unquestionably bad behavior." Would said neo-Nazi now have a legitimate gripe?
posted by aaron at 11:54 PM on September 23, 2001



aaron: there's a difference between standing up for what you believe in and just ignoring what you've done.
posted by rebeccablood at 12:56 AM on September 24, 2001


there's a difference between standing up for what you believe in and just ignoring what you've done.

What specifically has the U.S. done in the past that had Sept. 11 as a logical consequence?
posted by rcade at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2001


rcade, it's very difficult to directly prove causality between any US or UK foreign policy and the September 11 disaster, but Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times seems to imply that the deployment of female troops in the Gulf region was one thing that further stirred up bin Laden's anti-US hatred. It appears ridiculous to me, but then so do current suggestions from the British Government that compulsory identity cards might prevent serious terrorism.

The truth is, neither you nor I knows the full story right now. It may be that America's presence in Saudi Arabia, or its funding of Israel, caused bin Laden (if indeed he is responsible) to want to strike at the US. Or, as the Guardian proposes, perhaps the WTC attack was a response to US threats of military strikes against the Taliban. To the terrorists, their actions were a logical consequence of something like this. To us, of course, such logic is more like insanity.
posted by skylar at 9:06 AM on September 24, 2001


You don't think that people that throw acid into a woman's face for not wearing a veil in public(Pakistan) and stone women to death based solely on adultery accusations(Afghanistan) have no problem with women soldiers? I don't say that's the whole story, but don't underestimate the potential for irrational hatred in the mindset we are dealing with.
posted by quercus at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2001


"How can you talk about these things without talking about the context in which they occurred?".


You cannot seriously be proposing moral relativity here? Don't make me pull Godwin's Law on you.



No, not moral relativity. I just think invoking "atrocities" and "blood on their hands" is a rather blunt rhetorical device for an article that purports to be against ignorance; if she really wanted to encourage understanding she would have acknowledged something about the context.

That said, I'm off to search MeFi for "Godwin's Law" ....
posted by mattpfeff at 1:16 PM on September 24, 2001


What specifically has the U.S. done in the past that had Sept. 11 as a logical consequence?

There is no logical path to murder...

That said, there is a path of causality to hatred...
posted by fooljay at 3:51 PM on September 24, 2001


well said, fooljay.

but is there a logical causality to war?
posted by rebeccablood at 3:59 PM on September 24, 2001


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