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The Best and Worst of 9/11/02

Some of the anniversary writings provoked thought and stiffened spines and others pointed to a burgeoning anti-Americanism.

12:00 AM, Sep 12, 2002 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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This, the day after a piece by Joan Walsh, titled, "It's My Country and I'll Cry If I Want To: OK, we all have anniversary fatigue. But if the administration critics cede 9/11 to the right, Karl Rove wins." It's staggering how provincial some progressives can be.

-The Portland Oregonian ran an op-ed by Sallie Tisdale, who is still fighting against the 2000 election and for the Kyoto accords: "An administration born in a dubious compromise has dismantled nearly every international treaty and accord it could reach, damaging our foreign relations at a critical time. An administration headed by people who have never known unemployment, want, or hunger cuts back on social programs."

Tisdale seems stuck in '68: "How many of us have complained? Now this same administration is planning an unprovoked war, a war that could involve nuclear bombs, and the streets of the country are not filled with protestors. . . . I am most astonished that we are letting them get away with it."

-Out in Berkeley, Rong-Gong Lin II, the editor in chief of the Daily Californian, weighed in on civil liberties, with one of the sillier columns of the day. "It was chilling," he sputters, "how easily intolerance and hate could come from Americans who disagreed with other Americans' opinions. Free speech, the most American of values, was disregarded."

You could point out that most of the hate and intolerance to be found on our shores in the last 12 months has come from Palestinian activists. You could ask where, exactly, free speech has been disregarded. But Lin probably wouldn't care. After all, he calls Berkeley "a beacon of hope."

-In the Seattle Times, Jafar Siddiqui rang the PC bell, lamenting that after September 11, "the president's lieutenants began their war. Their targets were Islam, Muslims and Arabs . . ." Which is a nifty coincidence, since all of the hijackers were Muslim. But never mind; as Siddiqui somberly informs us, "The climate of fear had set in."

"As our administration comes after Arabs and Muslims, they do so with the participation by silence of the people of this free country and by the silence of Congress," he writes. "One thinks of other places where such events have taken place, that we call dictatorships."

His conclusion boggles the mind and strains any assumption of good faith: "It appears that the tragedy of Sept. 11 is being compounded by a silent but greater tragedy, a constitutional tragedy under which the rights and freedoms of every person in these United States may be imperiled for generations to come." [emphasis added]

-The Los Angeles Times featured an essay by Pico Iyer, who says, "I worry that the John Wayne stance [America is] projecting outside its borders is taking it further away from a world that it needs desperately to get closer to."

Of course, Iyer doesn't want to blame the victim, but will say, "if [America] can show the world that it can be humble and ready to change, some good may yet come of all it has suffered. Perhaps the best thing we can learn from older nations--Vietnam, say, or Japan--is that the most useful response to loss is to start looking beyond our wounds and toward how we can avoid hurting others, and getting hurt, again."

-Over in Britain, where the anti-Americanism is born not of stupidity, but belligerence, John Pilger wrote in the Mirror that "the lesson of September 11 ought to be understanding the rampant nature of the dominant power of the world . . ." and that "the far greater threat comes not from the Islamic world, but from the West."

"The difficult truth," Pilger declares, "is that Osama bin Laden and Bush/Blair are two sides of the same coin. That is the lesson of September 11."