Friday, October 15, 2010

Nobody Says We Were Attacked By Agnostics, White Men, New Yorkers, Republicans or Veterans on 4/19

If the glibness of this post’s title makes you angry, then read on. There’s actually a very important point to my sarcastic and jingoist-baiting statement above.

On April 19, 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed by Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian, sometime Catholic later Agnostic, decorated Persian Gulf War veteran, American militia movement sympathizing, registered Republican voter who was born in the state of New York.

McVeigh committed what was the single most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001 attacks. It claimed
168 lives, not counting an unmatched adult human leg that may belong to a possible, unidentified 169th victim who remains anonymous to this day.

The 168 death toll includes 19 children under the age of six.

Tim McVeigh claimed he initially wanted to destroy the Murrah building itself, but that he later came to the conclusion that his “message” would be heard only if there were many deaths. Most of the fatalities were directly caused by the violent collapse of the building’s structure, and not the bomb’s sudden instantaneous blast.

After April 19, nobody focused on any of the groups of which McVeigh was an identified member after his cowardly bombing with the ferocity, venom and prejudiced hate that Muslims have endured in America. Why? Because it would be manifestly stupid to suspect all persons born in the state of New York of terrorism. It would be an act of absolute idiocy to suspect all Persian Gulf War veterans of sedition and treason (And yet I would not blame them for those sentiments after the scandal of Walter Reade hospital during the Bush administration.) It would be irrational to assume that Caucasians want to bring down the government because of Tim McVeigh, and his accomplice Terry Nichol’s racial identity.

Yet this is the reasoning too many of us apply to Muslims in America.

You wouldn’t know that “guilt by association” is actually illegal in America from watching pundits on the Right, or by listening to the screams of protesters opposing the building of a Islamic learning center, (or mosque it doesn’t really matter which it is) in downtown Manhattan.

That’s all prejudice is at its core: the judgment of individuals based upon a belief applied to a group. The individual disappears, and all manner of injustice and violence is allowed. To paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, there’s always a lot of “accepted racism” when people start getting angry or scared or both.

We are angry and we are still scared in America, -and with good reason. Some spoiled fundamentalist asshole billionaire named Osama Bin Laden keeps releasing new tapes faster than the late Tupac Shakur; threatening violence and death against “the west” from all corners, sides and borders. Regardless of what motivations are ascribed to this homicidal thug and his fellow sociopaths, Bin Laden’s reasoning has more to do with perceived affronts to his reputation as a freedom fighter and protector of his culture and religion than the actual religion of Islam itself. When the House of Saud refused his help in pushing Saddam Hussein back across Kuwait, he openly threatened the Royal family. When the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia ran to their old friends the Bush family for support, he openly threatened the United States, leveraging the coming installation of an American military base within miles of Mecca as a rallying insult for Al Qaeda to galvanize around during and after the Persian Gulf War. Underneath all of this, the United States’ motivations had nothing to do with freedom or religion, -just the securing the uninterrupted procurement and distribution of oil at any cost. Nobody remembers that Bin Laden’s former target was the Egyptian government after the Soviet Afghanistan war, a fact conveniently lost in the post 9/11 us-versus-them propaganda deluge that ironically served the purposes of maniacs like Bin Laden himself: Every Muslim made to feel they do not belong gives his self-indulgent war of religion and culture legitimacy; Just ask John Miller, the only western reporter ever to interview Bin Laden face to face in 1998.

Even Bill Maher, another comedian like Chris Rock whose powers of reason and ethical humanist clarity I respect greatly, -actually defended racial profiling to my shock a few short years ago. If you’re looking for someone who looks and sounds like Osama Bin Laden, it still allows everyone who doesn’t look that way free reign to harm. I don’t feel safe around anyone when I’m at the airport, because I know that persons looking a particular way, being of a particular race, creed or color doesn’t make them any particular thing for better of for worse, for good or ill. Maybe old people get a pass, but that might be it.

And this is my point, and the motivation behind the title of this post:

Fox “News” Channel’s Bill O’Reilly said that “Muslims killed us on 9/11” on the TV talk show, The View this week. While that statement in isolation remains a fact, its selectiveness as a statement lends authority to a lie because all Muslims did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001. His statement is as ridiculous and dishonest as positing that “Veterans, Republicans and White men attacked us on April 19, 1995.” No one would uphold that statement or use it as justification for let’s say, denying a permit to an RNC convention in downtown Oklahoma because the GOP’s presence would be “an insult to families of the 4/19 victims.”

I am an American and I am tired of pointing out what is still racism and what still amounts to bigotry and prejudice over the shouting of people like Bill O’Reilly. I am exhausted from pointing out just how hypocritically selective hate is in America. I’m tired of pointing out the obvious to people who would rather act before they think just because they say their anger gives them the right.

Sadly, I am scared too.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon and the failed run at the White House by high jacked flight 93, the United States is one terrorist attack away from a federal lock down that would make the Patriot Act look like a Civil Rights initiative (no matter who is in office.) The cultural and social repression that would emanate at street level is too monstrous to contemplate if we are hit again in sizeable measure. I know we’d lose everything valuable about this Republic because we’re not the nation we used to be. We don’t listen to smart people anymore, we call people who try to think things through “pussies,” and we call people who defend the powerless even worse names.

Just try and remember this:
The casualties on 9/11 included nationals from over 70 countries. That’s one isolated fact that Fox “News” Channel and Osama Bin Laden are glad we have forgotten.



Jack Jodell said...

Well done, SJ. The paradox of this country is that we claim to be a melting pot but are really socially and economically a separate-but-equal country (and many times not so equal). We also claim to be a tolerant land of the free, but our social and cultural mores are often very rigid and confining. We are no better than anyone else, and we are not as great a power or country as many of us believe. In short, we need to grow up and get real, and fast!

SJ said...

Thanks Jack. I keep telling myself that this is a chance to reassert what the republic stands for, or is supposed to stand for, but then this stuff keeps surging back and it all feels pretty hopeless.

Jack Jodell said...

We must not get discouraged, but instead must fight on to make this country become worthy of and representative of its ideals. Do NOT give up hope:we have survived the horrors of Nixon, Reagan, and W and have still managed to achieve some pretty remarkable progress in spite of them. Better days are coming, but only if we continue to work for them, my friend! Kick butt and blog on, brother!

SJ said...

Thanks for sharing some of your spirit Jack. Badly needed these days.
Thank you.

Sue said...

Jack says what alot of us think but are afraid to say because we will be called un-patriotic and worse. Our country has a lot to learn, we are not always tolerant, we can love our country and at the same time admit we are a nation with many problems. We are a melting pot that is boiling over, why? Because we have bigots and racists among us. They want a white Christian America and to hell with all the rest of ya. Michelle Obama gets much criticism for her statement about being proud of her country for the first time. Well she is exactly right, there are many many things about our country and her people that I'm not proud of but so what. This is America, we can speak the truth.

Do not be discouraged SJ, we always make it through the tough times. This is an especially tough time but I am optimistic, we must be!

oh and BTW, do not be scared, that's what the wingnuts want you to be! Don't give into fear and THEM!

SJ said...

you said in direct terms, exactly what I am trying to express. Thanks for your understanding and friendship.
The "patriotism" ploy is a very old act predating even the McCarthy period.
I think I can now live with being called 'unpatriotic' by aspiring fascists.
Thanks again Sue.

Sue said...

you are very welcome!

I guess I'm somewhat unpatriotic because there are times when I don't think America is "the greatest nation on earth" like the "patriotic" believe it to be. We have committed atrocities, we have bullied, we have invaded countries, I guess we are supposed to believe the USA is superior to the rest of the world, but there are times when we are not and we should be able to express that.

Jack Jodell said...

True patriots criticize their country when they see it doing wrong or not measuring up because they love it and want it to be the best it can be. Those who denigrate people offering criticism are cowards unwilling to face up to or deal with the truth. Sue and SJ, we are ALL VERY patriotic by making the statements we do!

Manifesto Joe said...

Great post!

You know you've got one like that when somebody else who's blogging reads it and says to themselves, man, I wish I had thought of that!

SJ said...

@Manifesto Joe,
-thanks brother. I'm humbled because as already you know I'm a big fan of your writing. Thanks for the kind words. The post came out of a phone conversation I had with Mycue23 and was specifically a reaction to a few things that happened across the various media this week.