September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:I dont like the flag. Its not ugly per se -- though
its stylistic merits are debatable its just that its
imbued with so much unnecessary jingoism that I find
it distasteful. If waving a flag in uncritical praise
of your country and your leader are the marks of true
patriotism, then most Nazis and Soviets were great
patriots, indeed.

The flag is just a symbol and, since it symbolizes
entirely different things to a striking oil worker in
Aceh than it does to a barber or a butcher in Peoria,
I choose not to wave it at all. For me, that made
last September a lonely time.

Where I differ from most of my compatriots is that I
believe the fault for 9/11 lies not entirely with Al
Qaeda or the stars, but that part of it lies with us.
It is not that Americans dont have much to be proud
Of -- the stoicism with which we faced the anthrax
attacks and the way we kept America moving by
treating ourselves to SUVs was quite heroic, but we
often behave as though our actions dont have
consequences.

The phenomenon of blowback is a clear demonstration
that our actions do have consequences. It seems as
though everywhere our troops have been engaged in the
last 15 years (Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama),
they have been engaged against former U.S. allies.
The very dictators, thugs and terrorists we fought in
the 90 s and the ones we continue to fight today are
the ones we ourselves armed.

During the cold war, we gave aid and comfort (usually
in the form of weapons and money) to anybody who
professed to be against communism, no matter how
brutal their tactics or how empty their ideology.
Since 9/11, we have given a wink and a nod and a check
to governments around the globe that are repressing
their citizens in the name of anti-terrorism. A
glance through any days paper will tell of Russian
crimes in Chechnya, of Musharraf consolidating power
in Pakistan by undemocratic means, of protestors in
various countries around the globe being repressed and
beaten in the name of anti-terror all with U.S.
consent.

John F. Kennedy said it best: Those who make peaceful
revolutions impossible, make violent revolutions
inevitable. In backing dictatorial thugs around the
globe, we are making the same mistakes we made in the
cold war. How many violent revolutions are we making
inevitable? How much blowback is now in the offing?

Since there is a strong link between dictatorial
regimes and terrorism, our real self-interest lies in
promoting human rights and democracy around the globe,
instead of turning a blind eye to crimes committed by
undemocratic allies. Perhaps if we started doing
that, I could start loving our flag again.


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