T Nation

A reflection from across the pond

In response to much of the recent discussion here as well as to the general sentiment in the world these days, I thought I’d post this. I’m not often moved by rhetoric, nor do I consider myself especially patriotic, but this piece really made me think. It was written by Tony Parsons and published in the Daily Mirror, a British newspaper, on September 11, 2002.

"One year ago, the world witnessed a unique kind of broadcasting – the
mass murder of thousands, live on television. As a lesson in the
pitiless cruelty of the human race, September 11 was up there with Pol
Pot’s Mountain of Skulls in Cambodia, or the skeletal bodies stacked
like garbage in the Nazi concentration camps.

An unspeakable act so cruel, so calculated and so utterly merciless that
surely the world could agree on one thing - nobody deserves this fate.
Surely there could be consensus: The victims were truly innocent, the
perpetrators truly evil.

But to the world’s eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America’s
comeuppance. Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last
year. There has always been a simmering resentment to the USA in this
country; too loud, too rich, too full of themselves, and so much happier
than Europeans - but it has become an epidemic. And it seems incredible
to me. More than that, it turns my stomach.

America is this country’s greatest friend and our staunchest ally. We
are bonded to the US by culture, language and blood. A little over half
a century ago, around half a million Americans died for our freedoms, as
well as their own. Have we forgotten so soon? And exactly a year ago,
thousands of ordinary men, women and children - not just Americans, but
from dozens of countries, were butchered by a small group of religious
fanatics. Are we so quick to betray them?

What touched the heart about those who died in the Twin Towers and on
the planes, was that we recognized them. Young fathers and mothers,
somebody’s son and somebody’s daughter, husbands, wives, and children,
some unborn.

And these people brought it on themselves? Their nation is to blame for
their meticulously planned slaughter?

These days you don’t have to be some dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or
Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America as the Great Satan. The
anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing liberals who blame
the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and conservatives
suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world’s only superpower can
do what it likes without having to ask permission.

The truth is that America has behaved with enormous restraint since
September 11.

Remember, remember -

Remember the gut-wrenching tapes of weeping men phoning their wives to
say, “I love you,” before they were burned alive.

Remember those people leaping to their deaths from the top of burning

Remember the hundreds of firemen buried alive.

Remember the smiling face of that beautiful little girl who was on one
of the planes with her mum.

Remember, remember -

And realize that America has never retaliated for 9/11 in anything like
the way it could have.

So a few al-Qaeda tourists got locked without a trial in Camp X-ray?
Pass the Kleenex…

So some Afghan wedding receptions were shot up after they merrily fired
their semi-automatics in a sky full of American planes? A shame, but
maybe next time they should stick to confetti.

AMERICA could have turned a large chunk of the world into a parking lot.
That it didn’t is a sign of strength. American voices are already being
raised against attacking Iraq - that’s what a democracy is for. How
many in the Islamic world will have a minute’s silence for the
slaughtered innocents of 9/11? How many Islamic leaders will have the
guts to say that the mass murder of 9/11 was an abomination?

When the news of 9/11 broke on the West Bank, those freedom-loving
Palestinians were dancing in the street. America watched all of that -
and didn’t push the button. We should thank the stars that America is
the most powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that
9/11 did not provoke all-out war. Not a “war on terrorism.” A real war.

The fundamentalist dudes are talking about “opening the gates of hell,”
if America attacks Iraq. Well, America could have opened the gates of
hell like you wouldn’t believe.

The US is the most militarily powerful nation that ever strode the face
of the earth. The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than
perfect and the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.
But don’t blame America for not bringing peace and light to these
wretched countries. How many democracies are there in the Middle East,
or in the Muslim world? You can count them on the fingers of one hand -
assuming you haven’t had any chopped off for minor shoplifting.

I love America, yet America is hated. I guess that makes me Bush’s
poodle. But I would rather be a dog in New York City than a Prince in
Riyadh. Above all, America is hated because it is what every country
wants to be - rich, free, strong, open, optimistic. Not ground down by
the past, or religion, or some caste system. America is the best friend
this country ever had and we should start remembering that.

Or do you really think the USA is the root of all evil? Tell it to the
loved ones of the men and women who leaped to their death from the
burning towers.

Tell it to the nursing mothers whose husbands died on one of the
hijacked planes, or were ripped apart in a collapsing skyscraper. And
tell it to the hundreds of young widows whose husbands worked for the
New York Fire Department.

To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein. Once
we were told that Saddam gassed the Kurds, tortured his own people and
set up rape-camps in Kuwait. Now we are told he likes Quality Street.
Save me the orange center, Oh Mighty One!

Remember, remember, September 11 -

One of the greatest atrocities in human history was committed against

No, do more than remember. Never forget.

Thank you, Zev.

Thanks for posting that Zev.

Wow. That’s it. Wow.

Thanks, Zev.

What everyone else said.

Good column.

When I first got this in an e-mail I thought it was wrongly attributed to Parsons since the Daily Mirror isn’t normally a fan of the U.S… It was nice to find out I was wrong.

your message makes it seem like we should be proud of the fact that we have not destroyed the entire world. That’s not something to brag about.
Our war in Afghanistan killed a lot more civilians than wedding parties with firearms. In fact, more innocent civilians died in Afghanistan than did on 9/11.

And lastly, 9/11 was tragic, but far from one of the greatest atrocities in human history, definetly in the United States history. An American life is worth just the same as any other life.
By the way, I live in America, and I love America, and I will not say we are the greatest nation ever no matter what we do.

The author did a great job, pitty about the second and third last paragrahs.

"Remember, remember, September 11 - One of the greatest atrocities in human history was committed against America."

Yeah suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure....

That is soooooo far from the truth it isnt funny.

And I am absolutely positive that George Bush recieves better press than Saddam.

The author made many good points I just dont know why s/he finished it with something so questionable.... it made for a weak ending to a powerful article

What Chris said.

Yeap, to be powerful means to carry a heavy burden:responsibility.

Yet, 9/11 with all its horrors isn’t of one the greatest atrocities made by humans in History. It has been awful but we can’t compare it to nuking 100 000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, WW1 and 2, the Armenian massacre, Rwanda genocide.

IMHO, the main difference was proximity so it affects us much more than some 100 000 deaths in a so-damn-far-away country.

I don’t want to minimize the horror of 9/11 as it is clearly NOT my intention. Most of you read my posts on the subject and you know I put way more thought into analysing a situation than: “X are losers I hate them bla bla bla”. I’m not worried for all of you Americans, you’ll regroup and survive.

I agree with Magnus or whoever wrote it, the last paragraphs weren’t well written compared to the rest, nonetheless it’s another perspective.

Nice to bring this article to our attention!

  • LPdSB

The message wasn’t that we should be proud that we didn’t destroy the entire world. The message is that although we used quite a bit of restraint a lot of people (many of whom are living in countries that are in no small part defended by the military power of the US) make it sound like we’re out of control, blood thirsty Vikings on a rampage.

I’d like to see some independant numbers on how many innocent people were killed in Afghanistan. It’s nearly impossible to tell one from the other post mortem. Taliban soldiers don’t wear a uniform or carry dog tags. Once they are dead and a comrade picks up his weapons so it can be used by another guy it’s just a dead Afghani on the ground.

The wedding party thing was not accurately reported. No small arms casings were found on the ground but some anti aircraft casings were. Forty people were reported as killed but the next day when investigators showed up no bodies or recently dug graves could be pointed out by the “survivors”.

We didn’t target civilians by surprise over there like they did on 9-11. We go through huge measures to avoid innocent casualties. Sometimes one warlord will take advantage of us being there and give bad intelligence and vouch for some party or convoy as Taliban when they are just rival tribesmen. Sometimes a weapon goes off target. Sometimes the target is improperly identified. The rate of non targetted people killed over there is really low compared to any other military engagement anywhere else ever. Nothing is perfect but our guys aren’t out there murdering thousands of innocent people.