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#53246 - 10/02/01 11:41 AM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
JohnConstantine
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Interesting article from Thomas Friedman in today's NYTimes. Submitted here for your reading interest.
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#53247 - 10/02/01 11:49 AM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
deborah Administrator
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Joy, thanks for the link to the Roy piece. I too found it compelling, and agree with much of what she said. (I just wish she hadn't fallen into the trap of completely misapprehending the word jihad and misusing it as so many irresponsible journalists have done for decades.)

[This message has been edited by deborah (edited October 02, 2001).]

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#53248 - 10/02/01 01:02 PM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
WriterGirl
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I think the Roy piece, though it brings up some interesting points, falls into the same trap as much as what I've read -- assuming that the attackers were motivated by the same kind of anti-American feeling as the Palestinians, Saudis, Egyptians, Arab-Americans, and countless others who really don't like America. I don't think that's necessarily true, given the evidence so far; we don't have a proven link between, say, Palestinian suicide bombers and the hijackers. And I can't believe that the hijackers, even if they were acting out of some pan-Arab, anti-American sympathies, thought for even a second that their actions would make the US more sympathetic to the anti-American cause. If they wanted to commit suicide and draw attention to their cause, they have a very powerful precedent: the self-immolating Buddhist monks of the early 1960s.

I'm trying not to be an ugly American, and in the aftermath of the attack I was falling into the we-deserved-it logic, but I'm starting to get impatient with the idea that the attack was a manifestation of global anti-American hatred. To use a metaphor: millions of people think child sexual abuse is wrong and horrible. Yet we don't encourage people to shoot the pedophiles and their families, and we're even less sympathetic to the shooters if they themselves are not victims of child sexual abuse.

There is a valid argument that American policies have resulted in anti-American feeling, and there is a valid practical argument that changing those policies would help us in the long run by creating fewer potential terrorists, as well as the moral argument that Roy and others are presenting. But to say "what goes around comes around" in relation to this attack is insulting to both sides: there are people dead in the WTC who never even got a chance to vote in the US, and there are millions of people suffering because of American decisions who have nonetheless not felt the need to resort to murder -- and millions of dead in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. etc., who might not be happy to hear that they had signed a "calling card" that killed 6,000.

And it seems to me she's unaware that in the US, there has been a lot of talk about what to do about the fact that Afghanistan is at civil war, in horrible shape, and producing millions of refugees -- yes, there are people here saying, "Bomb 'em back to the Stone Age," but there are also many who know better. The US is not a monolith, even now.

And I think her position is short-sighted. If the attackers are motivated by pan-Arab sentiment, then India, with its (from a Pakistani point of view) illegal occupation of Kashmir, is a prime target. (And it should be noted that it would be diabolically perfect for Pakistan to cooperate fully with the US, then see India bombed by supposedly independent sources. I hope that doesn't happen, but I could see it.) If they're not, then how do we know they won't try hitting America's allies as well? At one point there was a report floating around that linked this attack to a 1992 bombing in Argentina. Great Britain could be a target, with Tony Blair taking such an active role. Canada, certainly. Japan, possibly. Bush might not be anyone's first choice to lead the fight against terrorism, but that doesn't mean the fight shouldn't be fought.

I guess the more I read her piece, the more I disagree with it.

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#53249 - 10/02/01 02:43 PM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
Angiv
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deborah - I've taken to writing to people to thank them if they use jihad and fatwa correctly.

Writergirl - while some of the points you make are valid, you should be careful about using phrases like pan-Arab to describe the terrorists and their supporters. Not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs.

Pan-Arabism is a secular movement separate from and contrary to Islam and pan-Islamism. Pan-Arabism calls for unity between Arab states; pan-Islamism calls for unity under Islam. Islam (in its purest form) makes no distinctions based on race or colour, neither does it promote secular government. Pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism are often used interrchangeably in the press, but are in fact mutually exclusive.

I found Friedman's article a little unsettling. It hinted of the kind of jingoism that we've seen too much of lately. I admire Friedman, and usually find him to be a voice of reason, but this article worried me.

America is a great country with great people, but its people are neither better nor worse than any other country's. The lives of its citizens are worth neither more nor less than any other country's.

I agree that there is no justification for rejoicing at the deaths of so many people, or indeed for killing so many people. It is, however, worth remembering that the US and the UK have been bombing Iraqi civilians since the end of the Gulf War without UN agreement, in what many in the Middle East see as state-level terrorism. I repeat this is not a justification of anything, merely a statement of fact.

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#53250 - 10/03/01 05:13 AM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
WriterGirl
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Angiv: thanks for the clarification. But my point still stands: we don't know if these attackers were working out of any sort of pan-Arab or pan-Islamic sentiment, much less representing anti-American feelings as a whole, and to declare them somehow representative of anti-American sentiment an insult to those with anti-American sentiments who do not condone the attacks.

As for the UN and the no-fly zones in Iraq: I poked around a bit, including here , and found that the Security Council hasn't approved US-UK bombing (not surprising, given the usual positions of France, Russia, and China on Iraq); I don't know about the General Assembly. Nor, of course, has the UN specifically condemned bombing in the no-fly zone. There's a great deal of information that says the sanctions/oil-for-food programme/no-fly zone bombings are misguided, ineffective, and harmful, and I would love to see someone come up with an alternative. (Nor do I think the backup US plan -- hold some money in case some other Iraqi leader comes to power -- will work worth a damn.) But I don't think anyone would argue that the UK and US are primarily responsible for the sufferings of Iraqi civilians, and that the cessation of bombings in the no-fly zones and/or the lifting of sanctions would lead automatically to higher quality of life for Iraqis there.

 Quote:
America is a great country with great people, but its people are neither better nor worse than any other country's. The lives of its citizens are worth neither more nor less than any other country's.


That statement works on a moral level but not on a geopolitical one. If I live in America, pay taxes to the American government, and live subject to its laws, then I expect it to defend my life prior to defending the life of a non-American citizen. In the case of the Iraqi sanctions, I'd want my government to make a damn good case to me that it's protecting my life by killing Iraqi civilians, which it hasn't yet; but if it could, I'd listen.

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#53251 - 10/03/01 01:33 PM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
JohnConstantine
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I'd like to note for the record that Anne Coulter's recent rantings on the attacks and what we should be doing because of them has managed to get her removed as a columnist for The National Review.

Personally, I was amazed. Both at the depths even the pathetic Ms. Coulter could sink to, and that it was possible she could write things even that nasty rag didn't want to be associated with.

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#53252 - 10/05/01 12:46 PM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
Angiv
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In the Scotsman today is a pretty scathing response from Gavin Esler to Arundhati Roy's article.
 Quote:
You can forgive the young students in Manaus for kneejerk anti-Americanism, but not Arundhati Roy. As George Orwell pointed out, she must be an intellectual. No ordinary person could be quite so stupid.

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#53253 - 10/10/01 03:03 PM Re: Coverage of the attacks and the ensuing conflict
ee-fah
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The Guardian has been my paper of choice for some years (out of the UK, I don't assume too many of you are interested in Swedish journalism) but I have become absolutely addicted during the last month. The link I posted on HF might as well go up here too.
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