It is a tremendous understatement to say that we as a nation and a society have been through a lot over the last six months. If the World Trade Center, Flight 93, or the Pentagon didn't affect you directly, chances are the subsequent collapse of the economy, the associated mass layoffs, or the Enron mismanagement scandal did. Even after all that, the hyper-prepared among us are watching for the next wave of accounting disclosures. We know that we're not quite out of the woods yet.
I'm sorry. Puppies and kittens.
It's been difficult to distinguish between the bad, the sorta bad, and the just plain awful. That being said, nothing has had the same emotional impact on me as that of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. I'm struck by the killing itself, the gruesome details, and the sheer mindlessness of it all. Nothing was gained from this tragic loss. Furthermore, no advance or quarter was ever destined to come from, or for that matter even considered to be the impetus of, this senseless crime. No, this was murder for the sake of terror, revoltingly cloaked in the guise of nationalism and a phony holy war.
I'm angry. No, I'm mad as hell. Madder.
I'm angry at the perpetrators. They were a cache of hellbent zealots who were not only delusional enough to videotape the taking of an innocent life, thereby ensuring we realize it was a crime committed for sheer media gain, but were also inept enough to make sure their point didn't get across. Their demands were ludicrous. They had the wrong guy as collateral. It smacks of Die Hard, only instead of the real purpose being the largest bearer-bond heist in history, they just wanted their faces on Al Jazeera.
I'm angry at the U.S. Government and the American media. The former for not making Pearl's cause priority one until he was returned to safe harbor, and for the lack of threats and instant retaliation that will prevent this from happening again. The latter for not picking up the slack when one of their own went missing and for allowing a figure skating scandal to dominate the headlines when communication with Pearl's captors dwindled to a point in which it was no longer deemed dramatic enough to capture the middle-American attention span.
Quick, name the Canadian skaters.
I thought so.
Most of all, I'm angry at the apologists.
I'm flabbergasted that there exist voices, be they American or allied-foreign, Christian or Muslim, conservative redneck or liberal peacenik, that still provide reason after unsubstantiated reason behind each of these aggressions. I'm slack jawed that there are people out there who still believe the tripe and propaganda, ham-handedly used as a smokescreen for a mad, power-hungry, well-funded Allah-complex-gone-horribly-wrong.
They're doing this because of U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
They're doing this because of the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq.
They're doing this because, in their cultural and spiritual milieu, Western civilization is destroying their own.
They killed a soft-spoken Jewish journalist from an American financial publication because he was anti-Muslim.
Which one of these am I expected to believe? All of them? Great. Let's go eye for eye then and get it all sorted out.
I'm absolutely outraged that anyone could blur the differences between acts of terror and anything else. The death of Daniel Pearl only serves to crystallize the differences in the methods of self-preservation between us, and believe me, there is an us, and them, and you better believe there is a them.
By no means are we holy, but we're not killing theirs in our streets. We're not publicly calling for the eradication of their innocents as necessary. For every "axis of evil" that we let slip, there are ten rallies that call for our end, complete with grammar-poor placards so we don't bungle the translation ourselves. And it's not "our end" as in George W. or the American military complex, but "our end" as in "me." And "you."
Not to mention those homemade nukes.
So don't... don't you dare equate the murder of Daniel Pearl to the collateral damage in Afghanistan.
Finally, and most importantly, I'm angry at what this has turned me into. I hate that these words have to be written. I hate that someone will want to paint me as war-mongering and intolerant for writing them. I loathe the fact that I can no longer work for peace, but must instead rally to prepare for war.
But as much as I believe that war is hell, I also believe that war is war. And if we let the murder of Daniel Pearl, one of our own, be forgotten or forgiven in the name of tolerance or apologia, then we are surely just as delusional as the robots who killed him.
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
3.1.02 @ 12:10a
Brilliant is obviously not just your band's name.
Well done, friend. Well done.
3.1.02 @ 1:01a
3.1.02 @ 3:28a
3.1.02 @ 8:50a
But as much as I believe that war is hell, I also believe that war is war. AMEN.
3.1.02 @ 9:22a
ji·had also je·had Pronunciation Key (j -häd )
1. A Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels
If this is what they believe is happening, why do we, as a nation, continue to convince ourselves otherwise?
3.1.02 @ 9:40a
How do we feel about the inherent danger (not necessarily from terrorists) in reporting from a hostile war environment? Don't think I'm justifying Daniel Pearl's death in any way, please. I'm just wondering about people's responses to the decision to report from the field instead of, say, behind a desk. Should our journalists be prepared to die?
3.1.02 @ 9:48a
factoid: there are two kinds of jihad.
1.The greater jihad: the struggle to change yourself and bring yourself closer to God.
2.The lesser jihad: the struggle against non-believers.
Unfortunately, as we all know, it is easier to fight others than to change yourself.
3.1.02 @ 9:53a
Awesome column, Joe.
3.1.02 @ 9:58a
Nice point Sarah.
Adam, I don't know about prepared, but they should know the risks. And while reporting on stuff like that is honorable and necessary, there comes a point when it's probably too much of a risk to take. But it's one thing to be covering a war and get killed in the field, and another to fall victim to an orchestrated act of kidnapping and murder.
3.1.02 @ 9:59a
Well done, Joe. You've hit it right on the head. There's only one thing I disagree with - "(Pearl's murderers) just wanted their faces on Al Jazeera." No, these sick bastards didn't even have the stones to show their faces on the video that depicted their grisly crime.
3.1.02 @ 10:30a
Firstly, great article. Very well written and extremely thought provoking. One comment, maybe. We may not be holy, but our government's history with covert CIA operations infiltrating other countries and "lending a hand" to oust their current government, as well as other foreign policies, is one of the reasons we are so hated by other countries. Yes, hated. With some jealous thrown in as well as alot of misunderstanding of the way we live. I hate war. I hate war-mongering. I hate the loss of innocent lives, but when will it stop? How will it stop?
3.1.02 @ 10:42a
great column. i do not understand at all how the perpetrators thought this means would convince anyone of their supposed "ends." for me, it takes away any worth that "jihad" may have initially embodied.
3.1.02 @ 10:50a
The very fact that, when deprived of "Western" targets, these groups and/or countries begin purging from the inside is evidence enough that what's going on isn't "holy" by any stretch. The Shi'ite Muslims hate the Sunnis, and will happily kill them. The Taliban (not unlike Iraq) killed anyone in Afghanistan who didn't meet their myopic socio-theological requirements. But unlike war for political, or economic, or geographic gain, there's nothing to be gained but the smug satisfaction that they can eliminate their enemies with impudence. Well, the case of Daniel Pearl puts a single, identifiable face on it: murder. This isn't terrorism; there are no real demands, as if by our acquiescence to one thing or another there will be point at which harmony will be achieved. It is murder. They killed a man -- they have killed thousands -- because they wanted to.
3.1.02 @ 10:55a
(lest I run out of room...)
There's a fairly famous quote from, of all people, Josef Stalin: "When one person is killed, it's a tragedy. When thousands are killed, it's a statistic." The devastation of 9/11 was tragic beyond belief...although even now I believe the nation's skin is growing thicker and more insensitive. Three thousand lives snuffed out like that -- you can't get your mind around it. But one innocent man, executed -- how can we not understand that? It's 9/11 distilled down to an elementary level. It wasn't political, it wasn't religious. It was murder.
3.1.02 @ 11:14a
It's tough, I think, though, to argue with people who believe that they have the God-given right to kill their enemies.
3.1.02 @ 11:31a
our government's history with covert CIA operations infiltrating other countries and "lending a hand" to oust their current government, as well as other foreign policies, is one of the reasons we are so hated by other countries
I disagree. I believe that the resentment comes from a deeper level, from power-mad leaders like Bin Laden and Hussein telling their people, through their wholly-controlled media outlets, the Americans want to eat their babies.
This column was written the day before the big Gallup poll of countries in the middle-east was published. 82% of them believe that the hijackers weren't Arab.
Now what does that tell you about the dissemination of information over there?
3.1.02 @ 11:50a
And yet, interestingly enough, Sec'y Rumsfeld was forced to close the Pentagon's not-even-six-months old Office of Strategic Influence because the media alleged that it would spread disinformation to the overseas press. How's that for irony? That's as bad as the lawyers who want to go visit Camp X-Ray in the hope of finding some litigious Al Qaeda members they can defend.
3.1.02 @ 12:25p
It says that there is propaganda disseminated there as well as anywhere else in the world. It only gets fueled by so-called diplomatic action.
3.1.02 @ 1:31p
It's not just Middle Eastern countries where this happens though. Every day, people disappear because they believe something that someone else does not.
Amnesty International recently helped free two Mexicans who were arrested, jailed and tortured by their government for protesting clear cut logging on their land. Just a few days after their release, their Mexican-based lawyer was found brutally murdered.
I wish Americans would get as outraged over things like that as they do over Daniel Pearl.
3.1.02 @ 1:54p
Well, historically, we don't really interfere if goverments are killing their own people. It's when they cross borders that we tend to try to step in and bomb the country next to them.
3.1.02 @ 2:34p
Well, we also tend to interfere when their foreign policy doesn't agree with our ideas about how the world should be run, when their economic plans interfere with ours, and when they make internal decisions that may adversly affect us a few steps down the line. We're kind of a pushy country.
That said, there are times to be pushy, and I think that going after al-Qaeda after September 11th was one of them.
Anyone else notice that, despite everything that's going on, Monica Lewinsky still made the front page of Cnn.com?
3.1.02 @ 2:45p
I hear you. My point is there is a difference between influence, and it would be silly to assume we could exist as a superpower and not be called upon to throw our weight around, and jihad. Especially the butchered form of jihad that's being tossed about.
Katherine, when 82% of a population has not seen video evidence of the crime or the admission, that can only mean that it is being withheld. To be able to exert that kind of censorship takes a devious power to the nth degree. No wonder they hate us, I agree. I just disagree as to why they hate us. They hate us because they're told to.
We could be dropping cakes on Afghanistan and they'd still be calling for jihad.
3.1.02 @ 3:20p
And if you scroll down on CNN.com, you'll learn that Linda Tripp has breast cancer. Not that I'd wish the big C on anyone, but I really don't give a damn about Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky, or anyone else who contributed to the laughingstock of American politics in the 1990s.
And did Gallup ask those same people whether or not they were aware of the humanitarian airlifts which the US was flying concurrent with the air campaign in Afghanistan, in order to sustain the refugees who had been driven from their homes by Taliban warlords? I really doubt it.
3.1.02 @ 3:48p
In some of the countries, a majority of the questions were censored (USA Today). In my opinion, that invalidates the poll and it shouldn't have been published.
3.1.02 @ 7:27p
There's an article in the new (March 4th) New Yorker, "The Apology," written by a Jewish woman who tracks down the Palestinian who shot her father in the name of jihad and gets him to apologize. I highly recommend it.
3.1.02 @ 8:38p
Russ, re: the Stalin quote -- an excellent, EXCELLENT illustration of what's happening. I would never think of using that, of making that analogy, but you're exactly right. It helps to have someone else break that down for me.
3.1.02 @ 10:08p
All of your points make really good sense. But I have varied ideas about Danny Pearl. I understand why he wanted to do what he did, maybe to win the Pulitzer. But I think he REALLY had to be dreaming if he thought as a Jewish person, that he could actually be treated in a humane manner. Unfortunately, the reality is, Jews are not safe around Muslims. They never have been all that safe around anyone, really, but my first thought was how stupid he was to want that assignment. He had to know that if they know he's Jewish, his life would be in even more danger then any other reporter or whoever else was in that country. He could have asked for an assignment in a less hostile atmosphere. I know that sounds like I'm blaming the victim, but, as a Jew, he had to know he was taking a seriously tremendous risk being in that country at all. I can't believe that at 38-years-old he was so naive to think he could change their mindset or change the world's view or that they would suddenly open their arms with "love" and maybe serve him matzo ball soup? WHAT WAS HE THINKING!? Gail Fonda
3.1.02 @ 10:54p
To answer your question, Gail, I imagine he was thinking he was doing his job, and that, having been raised where being a Jew is but one small aspect of one's identity, he probably never considered that he was possibly in more danger than anyone else would be. And, if you think that his killers might have gone easier on him had he been a Catholic, a Lutheran, or even a Muslim, I hve to ask you who's dreaming now. These people use their public agenda as a means to justify cold-blooded homicide. That Pearl was a Jew is incidental to his murder. And irrelevant to Joe's point.
3.2.02 @ 12:33a
So, Joe, when all you can see is uniform and clear, are you then perceptive ... or blind?
I applaud the depth of your insight into the 'US perception'. However, perception is blinding if you do not realize the limitations of your field of sight. To me it looks like you need to take a 'sun-bathing vacation' on the Gaza strip, and the sooner the better...
I was going to write something about the dangers of the blind frenzy Americans in the US have been whipped into, but Adam says it best:
It's tough, I think, though, to argue with people who believe that they have the God-given right to kill their enemies.
3.2.02 @ 12:48a
Gail Fonda: Norwegian television had a female war reporter in Afganhistan - not exactly what you would call a 'good starting point' in terms of trying to stay alive... Though, war reporters are relatively 'safe' (if you can say that in an area of conflict) from their hosts as long as they only report. I don't know the circumstances around Daniel Pearl, in European media he isn't mentioned at all, perhaps because we do not want (or need?) a martyr. If however, he was trying to interact with his hosts, I feel no pity towards his death, because (and this may seem and indeed *is* harsh) stupid people often die due to their stupidity.
On the other hand, if (as it seems is the case, though again I don't have any media knowledge of the case) his hosts killed him grotesquely and taped it and propagated this tape to statuate an example, then I can only conclude that stupid people often kill due to their stupidity.
And that's why we have war - stupidity. Humanity has some very irrational habits to lose.
3.2.02 @ 1:26a
Gail and Sigbjorn, I'm afraid you both miss my point. Pearl's murder is not an isolated incident, merely the last straw in a series of acts for which forgiveness defies logic.
Sigbjorn, I don't have to drink water to know its wet. I don't have to be in Gaza to watch the video of Osama Bin Laden admitting to the WTC. I don't have to do any math to understand that 82% of the people in nine Middle Eastern countries have been duped. And how many more facts have to hit the table before Europeans stop invoking their own tired perceptions, namely, that the US is isolationist or blind to the rest of the world? How many more buildings have to fall before you all say, "Wait. That is fucked up."
Which superpower do you think they'll go after if we fall? Actually, you don't have to think about that, because everyone guns for us. But if it wasn't for us, Canada would be saying the same things about Europe's blindness to the rest of the world.
3.2.02 @ 1:32a
Gail: I'd love to say that you're completely off base, but this isn't the first time I've heard that argument. I vehemently agree that his Judaism had little to do with his killing. THEY DON'T CARE. It's all a smokescreen.
Perhaps he did put himself in danger, but he didn't die because he was Jewish. What harm was he to them? Was he the only Jew in Pakistan? Why kidnap him if it's a race crime? Why demand Reed's release? Why videotape the killing? Why not identify themselves or take credit for it in the name of Allah?
3.2.02 @ 1:56a
...says Joe, *totally* missing my point about the Gaza-strip vacation.
Joe. Your lack of looking at the world from any side other than that of yourself is the reason why you cannot comprehend what is happening. I'm not saying I don't have the same limitations, but I believe that my current community enables me to get a greater understanding than you would get in a 'clean ethnocultural' environment.
Every time you are fed information, you are also fed a subjective opinion connected to it. When I talk to Ahmed who is Palestinian, and sleeps next door, approximately 6 meters from my bed, I get an entirely different *moral point* than when I talk to Blake, who is American, who sleeps 2 meters from my bed. Or when I talk to any of the other 400 people of over 70 nationalities that live within a 200-meter radius of myself. This is a diversity of subjectiveness which I can with relative confidence say you aren't getting even close to.
3.2.02 @ 1:57a
You don't have to drink water to know it's wet. But you have to drink it if you want to experience the wetness. Is that so damn scary? Yes! Because experience is chaotic, and chaos is a fearsome force, one that dominates on this planet. Chaos and confusion isn't tempting to anyone, but how dare you claim to understand the moralities of this world when your picture is overly simplified. How dare you claim to understand the moralities of this world without listening to Dani (upstairs), whose family might any day become Mugabe's next victim, or Patrick (next door in Ahmed's room), who no longer has any parents waiting for him in Rwanda, or Erin (two houses away), who lost five of her best friends when the WTC crashed down on them as they tried to rescue people out of the burning towers?
Take a large number and you have a statistic. Take an individual and you have a tragedy. Take Daniel Pearl. But don't you dare think Daniel Pearl is the only tragedy that matters.
You saw the video in America. But you have to be in somewhere else to see people react differently. You have to *experience* people to understand the different 'tired' perceptions we hold, even if we find them ridiculous.
3.2.02 @ 1:58a
You don't have to do any math to throw random statistics at me, but you'll have to refer to something, and give a source, if you expect to be taken seriously. (My greatest flaw in my last feature was to neglect this)
And how quickly you forget when it doesn’t suit you to remember that Europe has considerably more first-hand experience than you have when it comes to terrorism and conflict. Those two towers were tragedies, yes, to all those involved, but against the backdrop they are nothing.
How many more buildings have to fall, by their hands, by your hands, even by our hands, because we all say:
"Wait. What is fucked up?"
3.2.02 @ 9:54a
O holy Sigbjørn, forgiveth us our shallow vision and limited perspective.
As an ex-European, I'll admit that the American worldview is not what it is back in the Old World. I blame that more on sloth (on the part of the media and the citizen) than anything else. But it's been that way over here for 400 short years, and I don't expect that to change, no matter how many regional or global conflicts we may find our military engaged in.
But I don't apologize for a "lack" of terrorism or conflict over here. That rate of violent crimes in America far outstrips that of any other developed country, I think, inures us to the fact that wicked men are everywhere, whether they attach themselves to a collective group and call themselves terrorists, or if they drive a truck full of explosives into a federal office building or knife someone in an alley.
3.2.02 @ 10:10a
What so many others throughout the world seem bent out of shape about is, unlike most other nations, the United States is in the singular position of not just bending over and taking it. And that's destroying the fragile little status quo that the rest of the world has "enjoyed." It means we have, and will continue to, send our troops into the world in a best-intentioned attempt to preserve justice. Whether that's in Lebanon, Bosnia, Afghanistan and the Philippines -- or Normandy, Inchon and Saigon.
Most of the time, I wish we wouldn't. I'd love to see the money that we pump into peacekeeping forces, regional military bases and low interest loans to foreign governments be kept right here, working to solve unemployment, homelessness and illiteracy crises. But as soon as we pull back, that's when some idiot sinks another Luisitania, bombs another Pearl Harbor, blows up another Marine barracks or turns our airliners into missiles. And if the only language they ever use with us is killing. I won't apologize if we respond in kind.
3.2.02 @ 11:10a
Exactly! Sigbjjorn, who do you think Americans are? I appreciate that you're living in a diverse society but Americans ARE MOSTLY foreigners. Believe me, there are plenty of Muslims, Afghans, Croatians, Iraquis, Saudis, Koreans, and so on that I can and do talk to about such subjects.
What is it about America that makes Europeans snap to the judgment that we're all a bunch of white protestants? What is my "clean ethnocultural" environment?
I can accept information and I can also PROCESS that information.
I'm not implying that Daniel Pearl is the only tragedy that matters, but if WE as Americans continue to accept these ridiculous reasons for these aggressions, anything beyond the fact that the leaders of these movements are hell bent on destroying our way of life, we WON'T EVER understand what's going on here.
Yes, Europeans have a larger history of terror and even a more recent knowledge base. That doesn't disqualify us from being able to discern between the truth and lies.
3.2.02 @ 11:14a
Those statistics, off as I think they are, show a very scary trend. They show a people who swallow propaganda with an alarming ease. They either HAVEN'T seen the Bin Laden admission tape because of censorship, or they have bought whatever lies were used to dismiss it.
If the poll had shown that yes, they believe Arabs did fly those planes but were justified, it's a different story. The fact that they're either ignorant or in total disbelief of that facts says volumes about the leadership of the enemy (Al Queda, not the people of the countries involved who, I might add, ultimately make up the respondent base of the poll).
3.2.02 @ 11:14a
Sigbjorn, your comments PROVE rather than disprove Joe's point. Yes, he has only his own, one, single point of view, and certainly it has been colored by the media his information has been filtered through. However, his point (I think) is that it's time to wake up and realize that this DOES happen all over the world, that hate crimes and murders committed in the name of any given deity are still murders and not some 'holy mission sanctioned by God', that there is no acceptable excuse for terrorism. By your pointing out that Americans don't necessarily have the experience with this sort of thing that Europeans do, you further Russ's argument (statistics vs. tragedy) that others have developed a sort of immunity to the sheer terror of these acts. (cont'd)
3.2.02 @ 11:18a
Americans may be latecomers to this type of war, and we are fortunate that we do not live in a place where this is commonplace... but that does not negate our fury and our grief. Perhaps in the future we will lose more victims and perhaps we will NEED to before we snap out of our our current jingoistic mentality...but it seems to me that Joe is fervently hoping that no one else will die before we get that, that we can affect some changes before things get that far.
3.2.02 @ 11:28a
The last ten to twenty years have seen a s disturbing trend here to hold back justice in the name of tolerance and/or ignorance.
Of course, we need to know why the haters hate and what we can do to correct any error on our part. But it has become clear to me that this time the haters hate to hate, either from a power struggle or by blindly following the propaganda that comes from it, and nothing short of our destruction or theirs is going to stop them. We need to figure this out, instead of suggesting other reasons why this is happening.
Right is right, wrong is wrong, grey is grey. We've got statistics and video now to understand that we've got an ugly element to take out of power before we can begin to talk peace.
Sigbjorn, I really wish you could be in DC tonight so I could buy you a drink and we could continue this. But my point is basically that, in this situation, Americans need to wake up and realize the mentality we're up against.
Just a note: Sigbjorn and I both actually have the gloves on.
3.2.02 @ 1:39p
Sigbjorn says: "Those two towers were tragedies, yes, to all those involved, but against the backdrop they are nothing."
Tragedy is never nothing. It is never everything, but it is never nothing.
It's a lot easier to consider the world black and white than to really explore the moral, ethical, and historical complexity of these situations, which is probably why many people don't. But let's not contribute to that ignorance by claiming that all Americans or all Europeans or all Muslims have a locked-in worldview that makes them act a certain way. (Especially since there is clearly overlap in those three groups and one's identity cannot generally be distilled to either national or religious identity exclusive of all other characteristics.)
3.3.02 @ 1:30a
Joe says: But it has become clear to me that this time the haters hate to hate, either from a power struggle or by blindly following the propaganda that comes from it, and nothing short of our destruction or theirs is going to stop them. We need to figure this out, instead of suggesting other reasons why this is happening.
Actually, the haters hate because hating feels good. It is an emotion which is comforting to wallow in when you have nothing else to call your own. Hate needs a target to remain alive, and the USA is a nice fat convenient target that will be around awhile. If the haters were somehow able to vanquish the USA, they would find someone else to hate.
It has more to do with the human condition than it has to do with anything the hater's target does. People who hate like that are addicted to their rush of hatred just like the heroin addict is addicted to the needle.
3.4.02 @ 5:15p
I think many Americans are afraid to admit to the terrorism happening on our own ground. It doesn't necessarily wear a turban or speak a foreign language.
What is the real difference between crime and terrorism? That, in one situation, one collective group goes after another collective? What about the 65-year-old woman that won't walk to the neighborhood grocery because she's afraid of being mugged or worse? Day after day, she peeks behind a curtain and watches as gangs patrol her once-quiet street. Is that not a form of terrorism?
Go to any poor section of any town in America, and I assure you, you will find forced cohersion, screened propaganda, terror and oppression. I'll admit, I'm not happy with this new-found flag waving and finger-pointing to the "enemy" when most Americans don't even know the names of our neighbors.
3.4.02 @ 5:23p
Does that make me an isolationist? Perhaps. I fail to see the logic in bombing certain parts of a country and attempting to feed other parts. How many Americans are really aware that our humanitarian efforts were (are) for naught, because bandits steal the airdropped supplies and resell it for their own gain? Our "aid" was misguided and impetuous and, in a way, a form of propaganda.
While I don't believe in ignoring the rest of the world - the political alliances make that impossible - I certainly wish, like Russ mentioned, that America would try to solve some of its own problems and issues before policing the rest of the world. I am aware that this does not eliminate outside threat, but to instigate change, you as a person need to be the change agent, first starting with yourself. The same could be said for a country's attitude and projection of purpose. When we have race riots, Neo-Nazi "sleepers", the killing of abortion doctors under the guise of saving a life, the bombing of churches, ritual starvation of children and corrupt corporations - who are we, really, to tell anyone else what to do?
3.4.02 @ 10:32p
The difference, Tracey, is that none of the above are our national policy. No, we're not perfect as individuals or as a community. However, I do not subscribe to the "let he who is without sin" policy of right and wrong. We may not always choose to do right, but we know when we've chosen to do wrong. Certainly our nation perpetuates its own propaganda, and certainly too many America citizens believe it. We have the right, and indeed the responsibility, to notice the wrong and to affect change in our selves, in our communities, in our nation AND in our world. We do not need to permanently fix one problem before we can be allowed to work on another.
3.4.02 @ 11:04p
Many good points, Juli. I guess I have a problem with the wave of "them" vs."us" when a subculture of American people and their radical beliefs instigated a terrorist attack on American soil that killed innocents, even children, in 1995: The Oklahoma City bombing.
Timothy McVey believed hate propaganda, hated the American government, and vehemently followed a white supremacist credo that, with his death, did not fade away. To paraphrase Colin Powell: "It's not just the snake that needs to be killed - it's the entire nest."
Yet these groups still exist within America, still promote fear and still advocate a supremist society based on singular beliefs. Why, in our country, are these groups not hunted down for the terror they cause and the brainwashing of innocents into thinking of a 'supreme race'? How do we know they won't strike again?
How can we expect other countries to believe in our efforts when we can't stem the flow from our own wound? Sometimes charity does indeed begin at home. Which would I rather have: billions of military dollars spent on obliterating racial/cultural hatred in America or overseas?
3.4.02 @ 11:26p
Thing is, these groups are not encouraged to flourish. They are merely permitted to exist because it is not our policy to kill people whose beliefs differ from the majority/the current administration. We do not punish people for what they believe, even if it differs radically from our conceptions of right and wrong. We punish them for the wrongful acts they commit. If we allow for the banishment of these wackaloons just because they're wackaloons, we are no better than those who killed Daniel Pearl. And THAT, Tracey, is why we CAN police the world - because ours is a democratic system (in theory, as we are a representative republic and not actually a democracy at all) we can be counted upon to punish wrongdoers for their crimes, not for their policies.
3.5.02 @ 12:13a
Ah, this may be interesting and true, but some feel our treatment of the current prisoners of war is unjust and inhumane and resembling the actions of the very people we seek to banish abroad. Thus, our policies, to Americans and non-Americans alike, are flawed.
So it's only "war" if it's people commiting terrorism who don't live in this country? It's only "wrong" if an actual heinous, multiple- loss-of-life crime has been committed for the media to show, instead of the malicious torture that some people in this country live with day-to-day? America grants freedom of speech, right to bear arms and freedom to assemble to anyone as long as no one has used a plane as a flamethrower? Yes. As a matter of fact, we do. But it was not so long ago in America that signs divided one race from another at water fountains. And that was our country's "policy."
But when these same types of oppressive groups exist in other countries (the Taliban) we think it's our sovereign right to wave our flag and extend our "assistance" and consider ourselves judicious in the process.
3.5.02 @ 1:52a
Yes, well, we like to think we've matured as a nation... and the fact that those signs by drinking fountains are now nothing more than collectors' items is proof that we have, at least in some ways. Again, we can't be expected to have achieved perfection in our short history as a nation, or even as a species -- but one hopes that we will continue to learn these lessons, and hopefully not as harshly. As we have grown, we have asked others to grow with us. We have proven that we are capable of correcting our mistakes, even if it takes us some time. And we are asking that they show that they are taking steps to correct theirs. They can start by stopping the murders.
Besides, we were also ASKED to render our assistance in Afghanistan.
3.5.02 @ 8:58a
Of COURSE America was asked for our assistance. It's like an irresponsible adult who demands freedom and respect, yet blows all his/her money on fancy clothes and bar romps until the rent is due, then runs home to rich daddy for a a check. America is very convenient for many nations.
Last week in Des Moines, 4 people robbed a bank, and ran at police officers with guns. The officers shot, and killed, 2 of the 4 criminals.
The policemen, in the flurry of activity, forgot to turn on the cameras in their patrol cars, failing to capture valuable information on the arrest.
The officers happened to be white.
The criminals happened to be black.
The criminals' guns, come to discover, were bb guns.
Now the NAACP says it was a racially motivated attack.
Was it? Only a long legal battle will decide.
The simple fact there is a question proves we, as a country, haven't come very far at all.
3.5.02 @ 9:53a
Well, accusing someone of racism and actually engaging in racism are two different things. And, as Juli mentioned, the NAACP (and, on the flip side, the white supremacists) does not make national policy, only try to affect it.
Hate crimes are hate crimes. At what point does a good offense become our best defense? Of course the view changes depending on your seat. And while most situations are not easily black and white that doesn't mean that there aren't solutions.
I think something that no one's brought up yet is that the American people don't particularly like to go to war. Sure, we're patriotic, but if all the fighting in the world were to stop tomorrow, and all of our troops allowed to come home, we'd be ecstatic. Sure the US often sticks it's miliary nose where some believe it doesn't belong, but America has never (I'm pretty sure) been responsible for starting a war on foreign soil.
3.5.02 @ 10:25a
That's my whole point. Lead by example, on a variety of levels. Skewed propaganda aside, other nations do hold the United States under a magnifying glass, and the scrutiny by which we are judged is most severe.
Perhaps if we were first in the world in education, demonstrated better racial and cultural tolerance, and participated in war only when the need of the many outweighed the need of the few, the heat of the sun through the glass wouldn't sear so much.
3.5.02 @ 10:38a
I think we're not in disagreement here, it's just a matter of degree. Joe pointed out that other countries are not getting accurate info about the US, so what they are seeing through that magnifying glass ain't necessarily so. Maybe we're not "first" at anything -- but we are OK in education, better than many at racial and cultural tolerance and we are not willy-nilly warmongers attacking innocents. Of course we could use improvement, who couldn't? And there are certainly a good number of people who strive for exactly that, and they DO outnumber the whackjobs. What you hope for and aspire to is noble, but expecting a nation to solve all its own problems is as simplistic and unrealistic as "just say no."
3.5.02 @ 2:39p
Okay, so as a Jew, I'm obviously a little biased when it comes to what's going on in Israel right now, but what are other people's impressions of it? Do the Palestinians help or hurt their cause by not stopping the suicide bombings?
3.5.02 @ 4:08p
Hurt. I can't say anyone's successfully improved his opinion in the court of world opinion by killing innocents. As de facto leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, whether thru deliberate inaction or regrettable inability, has ensured that any suggestion that Palestinians are on a quest for peace is a hypocritical one. For that matter, I think Israel stopped being Jewish a long time ago, and that any pretense of the struggle on either side being a religious one is nonsense. Both sides are led by idiots, and in most cases the uneducated followers happily choose to blow one side up, whether with human bombs or helicopter strikes, in the name of Allah or G'd...when in reality it's all in the name of Arafat or Perez. Things were better off when the British and French still ran the region...
3.5.02 @ 4:21p
Sure. I think the problem for Israel, even if not on a religious note, is that there are still calls for the Arab world to push them into the sea. Even if they're not protecting the "Jewish Homeland" (which I actually think they are, to some extent), they're still fighting to be recognized by many of the countries in that area. I don't know how much of it has to do with a belief that God is on the Israeli side as it does with a simple desire for security for the Israeli people.
3.5.02 @ 4:26p
Wow. So much to say here. First, Tracey, it's a slippery slope to start saying "Who are we to dole out justice?" It's our responsibility to co-exist in the world and that means defending our interests and punishing those who would strike against us for their own gain. The world has no referee, and the ground we play on is never level, so we have to determine right from wrong and go fight for right ourselves.
There is absolutely no evidence of mistreatment in Cuba. None.
We got Tim McVeigh.
3.5.02 @ 4:30p
Also, I'm going to pat myself on the back by pointing out a number of media outlets who are asking these same questions.
1) Do Americans understand what we're up against?
2) Exactly how much of an "alliance" do we have here?
And then finally, the Palestinians have absolutely destroyed their own cause and Arafat knows this.
In conclusion, there is nothing, no mistreatment, no horror, no ill-will, NOTHING, that provides justification for the taking of an innocent life. AND THAT INCLUDES a prior taking of an innocent life.
3.6.02 @ 11:13p
one of the things that scares me most about the last six months is that it has become increasingly clear just how pervasive - and how officially sanctioned - anti-semitism is in the muslim world. how much of that is due to anger over the palestinian situation is certainly up for debate. but there are plenty of other places in the world where muslim populations have suffered or are suffering, and yet israel and by extension the u.s. are the almost exclusive focal point of anger (aside from india, i suppose - which is another horrible situation all on its own). legitimate complaints about the way israel is handling this conflict can't help but be undermined when you realize that the editorial pages of state-run arab newspapers are citing "the protocols of the elders of zion" as fact. just scary.
3.10.02 @ 7:48a
Okay, I'm not going to really get into this argument (again). I've been a week in Brussels, and there is way too much here which I'd love to argue with you on, heh... I have no doubt I could end up with a couple of thousand words :-)
I will however contest *some* of that which I strongly disagree with (and which was responding to my initial posts):
For starters, Joe makes one assertion I do not believe... The US is not a gathering of foreigners - they mostly all hail the same flag, and are thus Americans. Their historical background has little to do with their current cultural background (I'll concede that 'ethno' was a mistake on my part).
I really agree with Jael here:
It's so tempting to walk the easy path, where you have simple clear truths. In my opinion simple clear truths are damn outright lies - right is not always right. Wrong is not always wrong. Grey has shades. There are, as she says, moral, ethical, and historical complexity of these situations...
Yes, Europeans have a larger history of terror and even a more recent knowledge base. That doesn't disqualify us from being able to discern between the truth and lies.
3.10.02 @ 7:50a
We have even got first-hand knowledge on how to stop fighting. Face it, if it's something Europeans have been damn good at it's killing each other. Since the Thirty-year war every single generation in Europe has been on the battlefield. Except the last one. We are now economically and politically dependant, even unified. If there is any lesson to be taken from the European case study it is to hug your enemies.
Joe, in my eyes you are correct in only one tiny portion of your argument, and that is that you have some people who are completely mentally blocked to any other prospect than destruction. Those you need to 'handle' - those were the ones who got people to hijack planes. But you seem to be disregarding that those people would probably not have been motivated to follow Al-Quada if their lives didn't relate to their propaganda...
For crying out loud, the victim of violence is rarely unrelated to the weilder of violence. Hitler did not come to power without the help of the Entente (France, Britain, US, Russia mainly) powers. They created a damn oppressive war settlement - Germany became a ticking bomb as a result. And it is incredibly naive of the US to think that they can dismiss the factors that make perfectly ordinary people willing to die for some cause.
A little brown man once said "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." I think he has a point.