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Reflections on 9/11

Entry 1329, on 2011-09-14 at 16:58:26 (Rating 5, News)

It has been a couple of days since the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US and we have just been subjected to the expected outpouring of emotion and political rhetoric on the subject. To be honest, on the other side of the world here in New Zealand, it was fairly moderate and could be avoided if you wanted to (especially since the Rugby World Cup was much bigger news), but it was certainly present.

I'm not saying that the attacks weren't a terrible thing: I'm against the use of violence for political or religious purposes in almost every case, but there are a lot bigger problems in the world and a lot worse atrocities we should be worrying about.

For example, look at the quite understandable grief amongst the friends and families of the 9/11 victims. It's terrible to watch and clearly shows the consequences of violent political and terrorist acts, but we should apply the same standards to everyone.

If the loss of 3000 people in the US has caused so much grief how much has been caused by the slaughter of many times that number of innocent civilians in the unjust wars the US and its partners have engaged in since?

And who is really the most cowardly: a terrorist who takes his own life to attack who he perceives as his enemy, or a modern jet pilot bombing someone who he has been told is his enemy in a residential area in Baghdad?

This isn't really an anti-US rant. The US reacted as any dominant world power would react in a similar situation and it responded in the only way it really could, but who has really caused the greater amount of death, destruction, and misery? I think it's very clear what the answer to that question is.

I felt sickened listening to Bush and Obama speaking at the ceremony marking the anniversary of 9/11. It was pure, unadulterated propaganda. The sort that any dictator would be proud of. There were constant references to working for the will of God, to fighting for freedom, and other truly ridiculous statements.

If the US leadership really believes that the wars it has started were to fulfill the wishes of their god then I think they had better find another one. I wouldn't recommend that alternative supernatural tyrant that the other side follows either! Actually, anyone who believes in a superstition like Christianity or Islam has no right to be leading a powerful, modern country in the first place.

Maybe Obama doesn't really believe that stuff, who really knows. Because the US is so deeply superstitious no one can lead it without at least pretending to believe in Christian mythology and it would be political suicide to admit to not believing in God at all and almost as bad to suggest that God isn't on the US's side in the righteous wars it engages in.

So I would have liked to have seen a lot less rhetoric and a lot more moderation in the commemoration of the attacks. They were an act of evil against the US I agree, but there's been a lot worse done both before and after.

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Comment 1 (2932) by INRI on 2011-09-15 at 23:40:20:

May not have started as an anti US rant but turned into one and the usual anti religious rant as well. Do any of your blog readers actually agree with this or do we just assume, as your arguments are so convincing, that we take it as read?

Terrorists get no sympathy because their tactics are abhorrent to our natural sense of fair play.

Members of the armed forces get some sympathy because they are fulfilling a duty which society, by and large, demands of them even if the side effects of their actions are appalling. They are seen as courageous, self sacrificing and enable civilians to enjoy their peaceful lives.

These two opposing forces are playing out an evolutionary game. Society decides what is acceptable and fair and reinforces one approach and derides the other.

Society may decide that eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound etc is acceptable. Sounds fair and reasonable doesn't it? Readdresses the balance. Or maybe just bomb our enemies back to the stone age?

But why not just turn the other cheek? Maybe our enemies will just give up. Let's just have a bit of negotiation with terrorists. A peace treaty? A bit of appeasement? Let's just let them off the hook one time and not retaliate.

Two extreme positions. But evolution favours the fittest. Given that you have effectively proven that God does not exist to your own satisfaction then the blame must clearly be placed on what is left - evolution. So there is no use complaining that might isn't right, that's just the way the universe works.

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Comment 2 (2933) by OJB on 2011-09-16 at 12:30:43:

I really tried to not make this a simple anti-US rant. That is too easy and too simple. Both the US and the terrorists are to blame for the current state of the world. I assume people will disagree with a lot of what I say. If they can make a good argument about why I'm wrong then I will change my mind. That is one reason I blog at all: to test my ideas.

Terrorist activities are generally abhorrent, I agree. My point was that the senseless murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians by the US military is just as bad, if not worse.

You see the armed forces as fulfilling a duty? Don't the terrorists perceive themselves in a similar way? That was one of my points: if killing people is seen as a religious or political duty then all sorts of immoral acts can be justified by both sides.

Society decides what is acceptable? Which society? The majority of the US presumably thinks their actions are OK but many societies in the rest of the world would disagree.

I'm not promoting either the "eye for an eye" or the "turn the other cheek" approach. I think something in between is more likely to be most effective. The "might is right" approach is a simplistic response to social evolution. Often a more moderate solution is better for both parties. It's very obvious that the US is far worse off after foolishly starting the wars they are currently engaged in.

Maybe a more targeted attack against the Taleban would have been better than the unjustified murder of a million civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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