For more than a week–and extending into September 12 and probably continuing a while longer– the media have saturated the airwaves with 9/11 stories including sad tragic tales of friends of people who knew relatives who were lost or affected in some way by the terrible attacks of ten years ago. We kept hearing how we as a people and a nation “were never the same after 9/11.” (So might as well go bomb Afghanistan for ten years and destroy Iraq and now Libya.)
Again and again we heard “What were you doing when you first heard the news?” “How did it make you feel to confront such a loss?” “Do you still grieve for him or have you achieved closure?” “And what of that generation that was too young to remember 9/11? What are they thinking now?” and on and on, all day, all week.
The whole world is repeatedly expected to give sympathy and admiration to America the Great, the nation that sustained this tremendous 9/11 loss yet gathered itself together and met the enemy (whoever that might be). Overlooked in all this is the fact that other nations continue to experience equally horrible attacks, if not even more bloody and costly in lives than America’s endlessly observed and mourned 9/11. And the US military is often the perpetrator.
Chile suffered a 9/11 of its own (literally September 11, 1973) when that country’s democracy was smashed by a Chilean military trained, advised, directed, armed, and financed by the US Pentagon and CIA, with many thousands arrested, tortured, and executed over a period of years without stint. And there was the destruction of Yugoslavia by 78 days of US aerial attacks, economic sanctions, and US-financed secessionist wars. And now the thorough destruction of Iraq with over a million casualties, transforming it from the most prosperous country in the Middle East to one of the very poorest and most devastated in the world.
And what of the natural disasters: the tsunami that rocked Fukushima leaving over 20,000 dead or missing, with a nuclear disaster that some say is worse than Chernobyl–treated like just another disaster story. And earlier tsunamis and earthquakes and famines that have taken many thousands of lives in Southeast Asia, Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere. And what of Bhopal where a culpable, profiteering, criminally negligent Union Carbide corporation brought utter misery and death to hundreds of thousands of innocents.
As for our own 9/11, if the authorities really feel as deeply about it as they say, then why don’t they launch an investigation of the whole tragedy (not that dog and pony 9/11 commission engineered by George W.) so that we might be able to answer some of the questions that still haunt. And while feeling the utmost compassion for our 9/11 losses, we need the US government and US media to show some awareness that we are not the only country on this planet, that there are other tragedies endured by other nations, often far worse than 9/11, often perpetrated by US imperialist authorities, the very same authorities that read mournful inspirational passages at Ground Zero.
Michael Parenti’s most recent books are The Culture Struggle (2006), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (2007), God and His Demons (2010), Democracy for the Few (9th ed. 2011), and The Face of Imperialism (2011). For further information about his work, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.