Sunday, September 19, 2010

A September Pause

Every year as the sun rises on September 11, as a New Yorker I take pause. I am sure every New Yorker who was here that ill fated day nine years ago does the same. We all look up to the sky and remember that clear blue brilliant day that quickly turned black and gray. This year as the images of that calamity spark and flash in my mind, I sadly find that the poison that spewed out of "ground zero" that horrendous day, continues to make its way through the world with no end in sight.

Nine years ago, almost three thousand lives were cut short in downtown New York City. Since then the killings have not stopped. Countless have perished in the unholy and unjust wars that erupted soon after, and untold more are exterminated everyday as the conflicts see no prospects of stalling. If there is one person who can fly a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" it is Osama Bin Laden.

If in fact Osama Bin Laden was behind the attack on the World Trade Center, and if his mission was to bring the west to its knees, his operation has been a tremendous success and continues to bear fruit. The mayhem that ensued after 9/11 successfully drew a mighty nation to squander its treasures and nine years later, more or less has brought it to its knees. The two wars have drawn a debt ridden America deeper into the abyss. The economies of other western nations are in deep recession struggling to rebuild from the verge of total collapse. Young men and women have given their lives to fight wars in response to a threat of a nebulous entity called Al Qaeda. The lives of Muslims and Non-Muslims in the hundreds of thousands around the world have been tragically cut short by drones, car bombs and IEDs questioning who the real terrorist is. The name Al Qaeda still strikes fear and justifies the continuation of conflict and human rights violations in impoverished corners of the world hardening young people to blow themselves up in the name of "God".

Nineteen men on a Kamikaze mission changed humanity like never before. They altered the way we live and perceive one another. The fact that they were of Muslim descent and from a Muslim nation launched a quasi battle between religions and faiths, which years later still poisons and clouds the way people view their fellow human being. The suspicion of the other is profound. The successful and failed violent attacks, by nations and terrorists make the situation worse, maintaining a high degree of mistrust that sees no border.

While the wars rage on, the west believes it lives by a higher code of ethics which are constantly tested. They feel that their most cherished freedoms and ideals of thought and expression are in jeopardy and under attack. Therefore the right wing elements in the west are taking on the militant Muslim world on their own terms. In the process not only demonizing a whole group by the actions of their most extreme but also projecting a narrow view of themselves. The recent irrational and misguided protests against the building of a legitimate Islamic center in lower Manhattan and the attention given to an insane individual by the name of Terry Jones who calls himself a pastor, who threatened to burn a few Korans to grab publicity, shows that the healing is far from over. Infact it has has barely begun, as the wedge of ignorance gets driven even deeper. And the response in the Muslim world was all too familiar. Burning of the American flag and calling for Jihad and death to America. Even in flood ravaged Pakistan some people found time to show their customary anger.

So where d

o we begin to think beyond hatred and suspicion and not play into what the media chooses to highlight? When do we truly honor the Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Atheists and the rest who want to just live and not bring their beliefs into the public sphere to cause friction? When do we recognize that sixty Muslims died in the twin tower mass destruction and their flesh and blood was no different and the grief of their loved ones is as real?

It is election season in America. It is that time of the year when candidates reveal their true nature or say things they don't really mean to speak to their base in an attempt to corner votes. It is also that time of the year when people in power suddenly restart dormant polices to grab attention. This month President Obama kick started the Middle East peace process. Something that has become customary for every President to give it a shot. Only to seem engaged and caring about something that is at the center of all hatred the Muslim world has for the west. "The Tea Party" supporters came out in big numbers to support an agenda that has an unnerving fascist underbelly, blaming President Obama for everything they could put their finger on.

As September drew near there came an overwhelming sense of perceived mistrust and hatred of Muslims in America. A fear of marginalization not seen since the Japanese Americans were subjected to internment camps in the 1940s. In the blaring noise of the media ramblings of the likes of Glenn Beck of Fox News and the polling by other media outlets things seemed like they were spinning out of control. The more disheartening aspect of the circus was the refusal of right minded people to come and vociferously speak out against the poison that was rapidly permeating. Even President Obama trotted guardedly on this issue buckling to misguided political advise. The main casualty was the character of a nation which despite all its failings had always spoken for the voiceless, and now had found itself cowering.

Was this recent whipping up of ethnic hatred only a minor blip in America's conscience, as it grapples with its declining prosperity, trying to find an answer when the response stares it in its face? Or was it a preview of things to come. One would only have to wait and see as the future unravels. Until then the wars rage on with words in this country and with bombs in other less fortunate ones.

This week peacemaker laureate President Obama's administration signed a historic arms deal with a despotic regime. The 90 billion dollar decade long arms deal is America's biggest ever weapons sale period. While we deplore Iran for following medieval methods, resorting to stoning its women as punishment for adultery, we shake hands with Saudi Arabia which delivers justice in the same draconian ways. And lest you forget the 19 Kamikaze who flew airplanes on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and not Iraq or Afghanistan. One of the reasons Bin Laden presumably attacked the United States is because he detested its presence in his nation and the unholy relationship it has with its ruling family. And so make no mistake. The end to this war nine years in the making, is no where close at hand. Even the blind can see the hypocrisy of power. It is what it is.