Posts from September 2001

Remember, It Will Be We Who Fight The War

I submitted a letter to the editor of the Plainsman, entitled Are you ready?, asking students to think critically about what will happen if we go to war. By the time it is published, we may already be at war. And if it does happen, it will not be George W. Bush or Colin Powell or Donald Rumsfeld who will have to fight and die in a far-away land, it will be us. It will be 18-24 year olds, like me and my friends and my classmates, just like every other war. And people need to seriously think about what we are getting ourselves into every time we clench our jaws and call for war.

Take Action! Healing the World After Sep. 11

I ended on a very exhausted and somewhat depressing note yesterday. Nevertheless, here are some actions that you can take in order to work for making a difference in these troubled times.

Fears of Domestic Fascism

I am scared, honest-to-God scared, about what is happening in this country.

There are no words for the terror, grief, sadness, rage, and pain of the attack on Tuesday. Perhaps 5,000 people dead. Thousands more wounded. All of us paralyzed by the carnage, the gut-wrenching horror, the crime against humanity that unfolded before us on live television, the Internet, the radio, the choking words between friends and strangers.

And now we have begun to react predictably, tragically, terrifyingly, like a beast stung. It had begun already on Tuesday when pols stood on state house and capitol steps all across the country and belted out God Bless America — as if the motherfucking abstract nation-state identity of America were brutally attacked by three exploding jets, rather than 5,000 innocent people. The flags and the yellow ribbons are appearing everywhere. In an unprecedented act of hatred, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell used the 700 Club as a pulpit to blame gays, lesbians, feminists, and secularists for the attacks. I can’t count the number of hateful anti-Muslim or anti-Arab statements I’ve heard person-to-person, or through the mass media. And now the violence has begun. Amateur brownshirts in Chicago had to be turned back by police with machine guns when a mob chanting U-S-A, U-S-A had to be stopped from setting fire to a mosque. A Muslim community center was firebombed. In Detroit, with the largest Arab population in the United States, Muslim centers were subjected to bomb threats and death threats; two young men were arrested after saying they were going down to kill all the Arabs in Dearborn. In Arizona, a Sikh gas station owner was murdered because his turban and beard made him resemble the media portrayal of Arabs.

On the radio I hear Sen. Zell Miller (GA) saying that when we find who is responsible for the attack we should Bomb the hell out of them. If that means collateral damage, so be it. What he doesn’t say is that collateral damage is a polite way of saying mass murder of civilians, and when he tries to justify it by saying that They obviously don’t care about our civilians he forgets that the innocents he is so eager to murder had nothing to do with the atrocity of 9/11/2001. NATO has already invoked the World War III clause of their charter. The hawks of the Right and Left have cried Havoc, and authorized President Bush with a blank check for military force and billions in new defense spending. They are already preparing us for permanent war against an unspecifiable, unlocatable enemy (a war against terrorism), which they have promised to fight through covert means (over 6,000,000 people worldwide have been killed by United States covert operations since World War II) and have made it explicit that no particular tactic is off the table (for those keeping count, that includes: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, carpet-bombing, etc.). At home, Tim Russert is saying on national Teevee that the line between security and freedom will have to be redefined — meaning less freedom. Already motions are being made to strengthen the police state through imposing new bans on Internet security software, increasing invasive searches and racial profiling of Arabs at airports, and extending the FBI’s wiretap powers. Nobody in the government feels they can afford to stand up to the railroading tactics of the Defense Department and the FBI, and what’s worse, perhaps nobody even wants to.

We cannot ever, ever forget that the warfare State and the spectre of terrorism have been the greatest instruments of fascist tyranny, and the demonic influence of tyranny is hard to exorcise once it makes its way through. The Cheka (Lenin and Stalin’s murderous secret police) grew to power in the USSR through playing on the threat of counter-revolutionary terrorism in the early 1920s. Woodrow Wilson used WWI to force through tyrannical Sedition and Espionage Acts — which somehow failed to be revoked after World War I ended, and were continually used to suppress dissent during Wilson’s term. The supposed threat of Communist conspiracy was used to justify innumerable police state tactics (sometimes illegal, sometimes not) by the FBI, including their surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. (who they attempted to blackmail) and Malcolm X (who they may have aided the Nation of Islam in murdering) and their murderous COINTELPRO program which they used to hunt down and kill members of the Black Panther Party and to destroy both above-ground and underground antiwar / radical Left activist groups. And already activists have been given notice to watch their backs, by Rep. Don Young (R-AK):

Young warned against rushing to the conclusion that Middle Eastern terrorists were responsible. There’s some possibility, he said that the attacks are linked to the protests against the World Trade Organization, another of which [actually, a protest against the World Bank/IMF –CWJ] is scheduled for later this month in Washington D.C.

If you watched what happened (at past protests) in Genoa, in Italy, and even in Seattle, there’s some expertise in that field, Young said. I’m not sure they’re that dedicated, but ecoterrorists — which are really based in Seattle — there’s a strong possibility that could be one of the groups.

Never mind that this is a vicious slander against Left-wing activists on the part of Rep. Young. It’s not any attempt to convey information at all. It’s an outright threat: *We are calling for new powers. And we are coming after you, all of you, the Lefties, the Muslim fanatics, the greenies, the anarchists, the militias… it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are opposed to this government and this American form of life, you will be targeted.

I don’t know what to say or what to do. I am physically, mentally, spiritually exhausted by what happened last Tuesday. I am horrified, I am sick, I still need more time to deal with this. But I am also scared, because I know that a lot of people — a lot of innocent Muslims, a lot of innocent people who look like Muslims, people who will be slaughtered in the bombing and covert operations pushed through by the same Reagan-Bush-Bush cabinet that brought you Iran/Contra and the death squads of El Salvador, people who will die in the terrorist retaliation, 18-24 year olds like me who will be sent to fight and die, dissidents like me who will be targeted by a growing, many-tentacled police state. Today I am honestly frightened about the prospect of domestic fascism in the United States of America.


The World Trade Center in ruins

Thousands Feared Dead as World Trade Center Is Toppled [New York Times]. I heard on NPR that it is feared that as many as 10,000 may have died in the explosions, fire, and collapse of the buildings.

The death toll of these dramatic events is still unknown. In a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Giuluiani would not speculate but warned that the numbers "would be more than anyone can bear." There are more than 1500 "walking wounded" being treated in makeshift medical triages around the city, 600 in hospitals and 200 additional victims in critical condition. Many of the wounded and suspected fatalities include medical staff and firefighters who were at the base of the WTC before the buildings collapsed. [NYC IMC]

Several witnesses said they saw bodies falling from the twin towers and people jumping out before the first of the buildings collapsed in a roar of rubble and smoke. The other tower fell about half an hour after that. [New York Times]

I have nothing more to say today. There are no words.

Great news from Texas, bad news from Alabama

(Thanks to Colleen of The Feminist Blog for pointing this one out)

The state government in Texas has passed a law requiring equitable coverage for contraception in health insurance plans [NOW]. It joins 15 other states in requiring health insurance providers to not discriminate against contraceptive devices in their prescription benefit plans, and makes another stride in making women’s health care more accessible and affordable. Sadly, a similar law failed in the Alabama state legislature. Oh well: we’ll organize more, we’ll come back stronger, and this time we will win.