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Reflections on September 11

I awoke the morning of September 11th in the usual manner, my T.V. was programmed to turn on at 7 a.m. and so it was no accident that the news was on, still something was different. There was no banter between Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and they were not talking about the usual trivialities, instead there was ³live² coverage of ³big² events unfolding in downtown Manhattan. Though I still felt groggy, I tried to focus in on the T.V., I saw smoke billowing from the World Trade Center Towers, notice plural, I was sure that although I couldn¹t see the second tower it must be hidden behind the plumes of smoke. But then Katie Couric spoke about how the missing tower had just collapsed, that woke me upthe news was big.

I was glued to my television, every channel, every radio station, in every language dealt with the events unfolding in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. All the ³top² network news anchors were on the job, which spoke to the gravity of the situation. It¹s always a sign that the news is big when you have Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and Peter Jennings in their respective anchor chairs.

Still, no matter what channel your television was tuned to the images were the same, planes slamming into buildings, mass chaos, and utter disbelief. Although it sounds cliché, the scenes unfolding on our television screens didn¹t appear real, they looked too ³Hollywood¹isque,² except there were no superhuman heroes to save the day.

Then there was the analysis and commentary, anchors pontificated about how ³the unthinkable had happened,² about how ³terrorism² had invaded America, and about how this signaled the beginning of war. The biggest concern of course was, what was going to h…

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…irst century. The irony is not lost that in postaffirmative action states like California, low income and traditionally underserved students while limited in their pursuit of higher education are now being heavily courted to join the military. In lieu of this fact, media literacy is fundamental. Young recruits like the general public need to understand that war is not sanitary. Much of the images we are privy to have been filtered and screened to limit war¹s true carnage. However, this war is different, thanks to technology we can see events unfolding before our eyes, the question is whether we have the skills to deconstruct what others want us to see and understand what we need to know?


Only Ignorant People Support the Many Wars on Terrorism

“Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armagiddyon (One Love!),

So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One Song!).

Have pity on those whose chances grows t’inner;

There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation. ”

Lyrics from the song “One Love” by Bob Marley

When it comes to foreign policy and America’s role in the world, we are rarely a true democracy; we rarely even have much idea of what is going on. This veil of ignorance has contributed in no small part to the endless series of ghastly events. If we are to prevent a repetition of them, we as citizens must reclaim some authority over our role in the world, and not simply endorse every “war on terrorism.”

Simple justice and morality demand that we regard the acts of the terrorists and those with whom they worked as evil, irredeemable deeds, and that we tirelessly seek justice for their victims. But our revulsion and our determination to bring evil-doers to justice do not require us to abandon the search for the larger causes of such deeds. Sheer pragmatism, not to say the desire for self-preservation, requires that we do all we can to prevent future repetitions of these events.

Such a pragmatic imperative is not adequately served simply by beefing up our intelligence capabilities or by retaliating with military or economic violence. If widespread hatred of the United States is the seedbed of acts like those of September 11, we would do well to reflect on the roots of that hatred. Understanding it does not require that we ratify it, or accede to its fantastic and coercive manifestations, or refrain from passing judgment on despicable acts. It does, however, require that we pause to examine how U.S. policies and attitudes have helped in the m…

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…ab resentment of the West and the U.S. in particular. Nor is there any assurance that militant hostility to the United States can easily be altered in those regimes for which that hostility is an essential, if pathetic, motive force. Of paramount importance, however, is that we citizens not abdicate our responsibility to understand, and to exercise meaningful influence over, the uses to which our sovereign power is being put. President Bush has assured us that “We will lead the world to victory, to victory,” but over whom, and at whose expense? No American should feel satisfied to endorse a “war” of undetermined length and unarticulated aims. To confer unchecked power on our government to prosecute a “war on terrorism,” with no assurance that we will not be spreading the same misery and generating the same rage that lie behind the recent events, is unacceptable.

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