While there is no denying the grief of those who lost family or friends in New York, looking at the disaster from a non-western perspective one can only wonder if the world sees hypocrisy in the outpourings of grief.
For example in the world's poorest nations, tens of thousands of children and infants die everyday of hunger and hunger related issues. This takes place in a world of plenty, although most people are led to believe that there is a 'global world wide food shortage', a callous propaganda argument often used to justify the development of 'biogenetically engineered food' to 'solve the crisis'. There is no daily outpourings of mourning and grief for the thousands who perish daily, nor are they even seen or heard from in our culture. Anything that might have helped to give some perspective to the anger expressed in the suicide attacks in New York and Washington are invisible. Looking at it from the perspective of the world's poorest people then, it is more understandable that poor Palestinian children, 74% of whom qualify for U.N. Food relief, would be dancing in the streets, in particular given the symbolism of the attack on the symbols of American wealth and power embedded in the disaster. While such images are being replayed over and over again (see the conservative Christian broadcasting system) and might seem shocking to Western viewers, those who are watching us from the poorest parts of the world see a different world than we do...
I have been surfing the Zmag site and reading the reactions of prominent dissidents to the American disaster. In a piece entitled BlowBack, Jeff Sommers writes,
"In CIA parlance missions that are “successful” create backlashes. The CIA aptly calls this “Blowback.” ... The US maintained order during its tenure of hegemony through use of both covert and overt operations that helped signal the very blowback we witnessed on the 11th. In 1953 Allen Dulles, brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, thought it clever to maintain order in Iran by overthrowing its democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh ... trained the Shah of Iran’s secret police in all sorts and manners of techniques that brutal dictatorships employ against their citizens. This bought “stability” ... in overthrowing Mossadegh a 25-year-long period of repression was launched against dissenters in Iran with significant blowback for all parties concerned. Most significantly this created a radical Islamic fundamentalist response that led to the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeni. In part, yesterday’s tragedy is blowback from Washington policies executed 50 years back ... Among opponents of the Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan were Islamic fundamentalists. The CIA fanned the flames of fundamentalist fervor in order to fuel the ant-Soviet Afghani movement, the Mujahadeen. Yet, here too there would be blowback. When the Soviet Union collapsed the highly motivated fundamentalist force the US helped create and train in covert operations (the stuff of terrorism) they now turned their sights on their former benefactor. The marriage between Afghani fundamentalists and the CIA was purely one of convenience. When no longer “convenient” these highly-trained militants could now turn on that other source of misery in the Middle East: the US. Again, this was blowback ... Copious amounts of aid flows liberally to the Israeli government and spills out into Palestinian communities in the form of state violence ... Palestinians homes are routinely bulldozed and its people live under military occupation ... Consequently, Palestinian children greet with delight the news of thousands of innocent people dying in the US on the 11th. This is blowback."In a piece by dissident writer Norman Solomon, TERRORISM, TELEVISION AND THE RAGE FOR VENGEANCE he describes the subtle nature of the hypocrisy of Western reactions to the violence. Describing the denial of the truth of the suffering of the world and the West's part in supporting tyranny to control the poor, and refusing to put the attack into historical context (an obvious form of blowback) he sites Orwell's description of how official channels can use prevarication, conciously and unconciously to deny unpleasant truths while spreading propaganda throughout a population.
In his book "1984," George Orwell described the mental dynamics: "The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies -- all this is indispensably necessary."He then proceeds to list what he thinks are classic examples of the form being played out over the media in the context of the current disaster.
News analyst Vincent Cannistraro helped to put it all in perspective for millions of TV viewers. Cannistraro is a former high-ranking official of the Central Intelligence Agency who was in charge of the CIA's work with the contras in Nicaragua during the early 1980s. After moving to the National Security Council in 1984, he became a supervisor of covert aid to Afghan guerrillas. In other words, Cannistraro has a long history of assisting terrorists -- first, contra soldiers who routinely killed Nicaraguan civilians; then, mujahedeen rebels in Afghanistan ... like Osama bin Laden. How can a longtime associate of terrorists now be credibly denouncing "terrorism"? It's easy. All that's required is for media coverage to remain in a kind of history-free zone that has no use for any facets of reality that are not presently convenient to acknowledge.Robert Fisk has been a reporter in the danger zone of the Middle East for some time. In his response to the tragedy, The awesome cruelty of a doomed people he wrote also on the subject of 'blowback'.
Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced "people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose." He was describing the terrorists who had struck his country hours earlier. But Powell was also aptly describing a long line of top officials in Washington. It would be very unusual to hear a comment about that sort of hypocrisy on any major TV network in the United States. Yet surely U.S. policy-makers have believed that they could "achieve a political purpose" -- with "the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people" -- when launching missiles at Baghdad or Belgrade.
Media scrutiny of atrocities committed by the U.S. government is rare. Only some cruelties merit the spotlight. Only some victims deserve empathy. Only certain crimes against humanity are worth our tears. "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil," President Bush proclaimed. The media reactions to such rhetoric have been overwhelmingly favorable.
This is not the war of democracy vs terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming hours and days. It is also about American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana a few days later and about a Lebanese militia - paid and uniformed by America's Israeli ally - hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.In the wake of the disaster a common theme often heard in on the street interviews is 'why did this happen?' There is either a refusal to put the attack into context historically (and acknowledge the 'blowback' mentioned above) or a genuine ignorance of history behind such comments. Edward S. Hermann, in his response entitled FOLKS OUT THERE HAVE A "DISTASTE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND CULTURAL VALUES" wrote,
how easy was our failure to recognize the new weapon of the Middle East which neither Americans or any other Westerners could equal: the despair-driven, desperate suicide bomber. All America's power, wealth - and arrogance, the Arabs will be saying - could not defend the greatest power the world has ever known from this destruction. For journalists, even those who have literally walked through the blood of the Middle East, words dry up here. Awesome, terrible, unspeakable, unforgivable; in the coming days, these words will become water in the desert. And there will be, naturally and inevitably, and quite immorally, an attempt to obscure the historical wrongs and the blood and the injustices that lie behind yesterday's firestorms. We will be told about "mindless terrorism'', the "mindless" bit being essential if we are not to realise how hated America has become in the land of the birth of three great religions ... Vietnam, is beginning to fade away in comparison.
One of the most durable features of the U.S. culture is the inability or refusal to recognize U.S. crimes. The media have long been calling for the Japanese and Germans to admit guilt, apologize, and pay reparations ... corporate globalization, pushed by the U.S. government and its closest allies, with the help of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and IMF, had not unleashed a tremendous immiseration process on the Third World, with budget cuts and import devastation of artisans and small farmers. Many of these hundreds of millions of losers are quite aware of the role of the United States in this process. It is the U.S. public who by and large have been kept in the dark ... Vast numbers have also suffered from U.S. policies of supporting rightwing rule and state terrorism, in the interest of combating "nationalistic regimes maintained in large part by appeals to the masses" and threatening to respond to "an increasing popular demand for immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses," as fearfully expressed in a 1954 National Security Council report ... The idea that many of those torture victims and their families, and the families of the thousands of "disappeared" in Latin America in the 1960s through the 1980s, may have harbored some ill-feelings toward the United States remains unthinkable to U.S. commentators ... All of these victims may well have a distaste for "Western civilization and cultural values," but that is because they recognize that these include the ruthless imposition of a neoliberal regime that serves Western transnational corporate interests, along with a willingness to use unlimited force to achieve Western ends ... imperial terrorism inevitably produces retail terrorist responses; that the urgent need is the curbing of the causal force, which is the rampaging empire."
When empire is at its height, we can expect empire to celebrate empire, but the eventual judgment of history follows on the collapse of empire. The day will come when the history of the twentieth century will be looked at from the outside in, much as it is today by the rest of the world. The disaffected poor must be ruled by despots since the West offers nothing to them in the way of an ideology that can compete with the ideology of revolt and revolution. A bankrupt ideology is behind the trail of violence and the trail of despots left behind by western imperial power over the course of the 20th century, and also is the fuel that feeds the fire of radical violence in the world today. Worse than this is the dehumanization of self that is required to live in such a cruel, unjust world (one glance at the medusa's head is enough to turn people to stone, as is evidenced by the lack of grief or mourning each and every day over the tens of thousands of lives lost to instutionalized 'terrorism' - it is hard to think of any other way to describe the types of policies that have resulted in such inequality and injustice). Certainly these policies are 'violent' and a source of 'terror' to the victims who, after all, are the ones we asking to die in their tens of thousands, preferably quietly, and also unseen, and certainly unmourned. (But then who wants to attend mourning services day in and day out, 365 days a year? Surely the dying and the dispossessed can do their own mourning. And as all the preachers are saying this week, surely God will spare us such suffering and terror ourselves, because, one must suppose, we either deserve it, or perhaps its just what we want.) Looking at the crimes of empire, the constant setting up of dictatorships, the grinding poverty, the hunger that affects so much of the globe, I cannot help but conclude that the day is coming when the history of this past era will be judged scornfully just as we scorn the feudalism which preceded it.
Now you can call this my response, on this day of mourning, Friday September 14th, 2001. You can me the dissidents dissident, because I am not in step with my peers, but rather I am appalled by todays mourning ceremonies, in particular I am utterly appalled by the religious aspect the mourning ceremonies. I am appalled by the displays of hypocrisy I am being confronted with today, and in particular with the displays of what I experience as blatant religious hypocrisy, the prayers of famous ministers 'to make America strong' (thinly cloaked calls to 'Christian soldiers, marching off to war' drawing out I am sure 'their terrible swift sword', not to mention the exploitation of the tragedy by what I am sure is a gleeful right wing (and a happy Israeli government). I noted the blatant (and not cloaked) calls for full scale warfare against the Arab nations on TBN, the conservative Christian television station last night, with Hal Lindsay calling this 'a war between two world views' and calling for full scale jihad against the Arabs 'to avert God's judgment against America' (and similar sentiments were expressed with equally uncloaked support for militarism, unlike the vieled language used by Billy Graham just an hour ago). Like their ancestors before them, ministers prove to be conservative supporters of the status quo devoted to indoctrinating the peasants and supporting state power. As Isaiah put it, 'the cause of the poor goes unheard,' and a truer judgment against this current expression of contemporary religion in American culture could not be made. Religious leaders have had plenty of opportunity to mourn the victims of terror and injustice, after all, I put a starved baby counter onto to my site to count the deaths of those (dancing celebrating this week) children on my website, and unfortunately, there was no mourning service for the victims. They lie in their graves, unmourned and forgotten, like all the victims of torture and tyranny and injustice of the twentieth century, the century of bankruptcy in ideology and the consequent use of violent force as a means of control of the poorest people on earth, who understandably might, like myself, see the hypocrisy of the mourning and grieving going on now, and who, like certain little Palestinian children dancing in the streets this week...
And now a few words posted in protest protest against the religious hypocrisy in our society...
Isaiah chapter 58
5 Is such the mourning that I choose, a day for a person to humble themselves? Is it to bow down their heads like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under them? Will you call this mourning, and a day acceptable to YAHWEH?
6 "Is not this the mourning that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of YAHWEH shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and YAHWEH will answer; you shall cry, and God will say, Here I am. "If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And YAHWEH will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Isaiah chapter 59
3 But your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs, they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one which is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked, no one who goes in them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we look for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like the dead.
11 We all growl like bears, we moan and moan like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying YAHWEH, and turning away from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking, and those who departs from evil make themselves a prey. YAHWEH saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
16 YAHWEH saw that there was no person, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then God's own arm brought the victory, and God's righteousness upheld right.
17 YAHWEH put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation; YAHWEH put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped in fury as a mantle.
18 According to their deeds, so will YAHWEH repay, wrath to God's adversaries, requital to God's enemies; to the coastlands he will render requital.
19 So they shall fear the name of YAHWEH from the west, and God's glory from the rising of the sun; for YAHWEH will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of YAHWEH drives.
Isaiah chapter 63
15 Look down from heaven and see, from thy holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from us.
16 For thou art our Parent, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O YAHWEH, art our Parent, our Redeemer from of old is thy name.
17 O YAHWEH, why dost thou make us err from thy ways and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not? Return for the sake of thy servants, the tribes of thy heritage.
18 Thy holy people possessed thy sanctuary only a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down.
19 We have become like those over whom thou hast never ruled, like those who are not called by thy name.
1 O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence!
3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence.
4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait.
5 Thou meetest those that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy rag. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestir themselves to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities.
8 Yet, O YAHWEH, thou art our Parent; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand.
9 Be not exceedingly angry, O YAHWEH, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold, consider, we are all thy people.
10 Thy holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful house, where our ancestors praised thee, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12 Wilt thou restrain thyself at these things, O YAHWEH? Wilt thou keep silent, and afflict us sorely?
1 I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that did not call on my name.
2 I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own evil devices;
3 a people who provoke me to my face continually,
Isaiah chapter 1
22 Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Every one loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
24 Therefore YAHWEH says, YAHWEH of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will vent my wrath on my enemies, and avenge myself on my foes.
25 I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.
26 And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning.
Isaiah chapter 2
7 Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.
9 So man is humbled, and men are brought low—forgive them not!
10 Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from before the terror of YAHWEH, and from the glory of God's majesty.
11 The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and YAHWEH alone will be exalted in that day.
12 For YAHWEH of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high;
13 against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan;
14 against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills;
15 against every high tower, and against every fortified wall;
16 against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft.
17 And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and YAHWEH alone will be exalted in that day.
18 And the idols shall utterly pass away.
19 And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of YAHWEH, and from the glory of God's majesty, when YAHWEH rises to terrify the earth.
20 In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,
21 to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of YAHWEH, and from the glory of God's majesty, when YAHWEH rises to terrify the earth.
22 Turn away from man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?
Isaiah chapter 3
14 YAHWEH enters into judgment with the elders and princes of the people: "It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?" says YAHWEH GOD of hosts.
Isaiah chapter 10
1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression,
2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
3 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the storm which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?
4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this YAHWEH's anger is not turned away and YAHWEH's hand is stretched out still.
Isaiah chapter 25
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify thee; cities of ruthless nations will fear thee.
4 For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place. Thou dost subdue the noise of the aliens; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
6 On this mountain YAHWEH of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined.
7 And YAHWEH will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 YAHWEH will swallow up death for ever, and YAHWEH GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of the people he will take away from all the earth; for YAHWEH has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited, that God might save us. This is YAHWEH; we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in salvation."
Isaiah chapter 26
7 The way of the righteous is level; thou dost make smooth the path of the righteous.
8 In the path of thy judgments, O YAHWEH, we wait for thee; thy memorial name is the desire of our soul.
9 My soul yearns for thee in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks thee. For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
10 If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and does not see the majesty of YAHWEH.
11 O LORD, thy hand is lifted up, but they see it not. Let them see thy zeal for thy people.
Isaiah chapter 29
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in YAHWEH, and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nought and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
Isaiah chapter 32
5 The fool will no more be called noble, nor the knave said to be honorable.
6 For the fool speaks folly, and his mind plots iniquity: to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
7 The knaveries of the knave are evil; he devises wicked devices to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right.
8 But he who is noble devises noble things, and by noble things he stands.
9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10 In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent women; for the vintage will fail, the fruit harvest will not come.
11 Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
12 Beat upon your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine,
13 for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers; yea, for all the joyous houses in the joyful city.
14 For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.