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I do not condone grocery store small-talk. While standing in line at the grocery store, I have but one concern; putting my groceries on the conveyor belt and paying for them. For some reason, however, my physical demeanor contradicts this. In fact, I dare say that, for whatever reason, people feel obligated to initiate small-talk with me. Most of these initiations are met with staunch rejection.

One such incident, however, piqued my interest so much as to solicit a response. In waiting for a grocery store cashier to total my food expenditure I was approached by a woman who seemed eager to spark a conversation.

“Can you believe it?”, she asked, throwing a glance to the image of two disheveled towers which adorned the cover of a TIME magazine.
“I’m sorry; believe what?”.
“Believe what those apes did to us?”.

This correspondence catalyzed contemplation.

Taking residence in suburban Houston, I am heavily influenced by a conservative perspective. My neighbors are all mostly employed by the likes of Enron, Texaco, Exxon, and Compaq, leaving little room for whatever shadows of doubt might be cast upon the intentions of “big business”. So when a group of hard-line Muslims crash two planes into the quintessence of economic prominence in the United States, room for thought is not afforded to your actions; you grab a flag and make sure the entire world knows that these colors don’t run.

Inquiring minds, however, have a propensity for dissecting intent. I knew what, how, where, and when the actions of September 11th transpired, but one aspect of description still remained ever-elusive - why. The nationalist sentiment of post-September 11th seemed eager to divulge the answer to that question; these Afghan extremists host an aversion of the United States and its Western culture. Their actions were motivated by hatred. They killed us because they hate us.

I accepted this explanation, as have the majority of Americans, because it works. I’ve seen enough television clips of burning flags and effigies of Uncle Sam to know that the United States is not the world’s favorite neighbor; we are not the Mister Rogers of international affairs. It is easy, then, to simply accept this notion as sufficient provocation for the September 11th attacks and move on with one’s life. After all, what else could possibly have driven these people to indiscriminately slaughter thousands of unknowing Americans? It is the convenience of this theory that makes it so hard to swallow, though. A catastrophic event of September 11th’s proportions has the tendency to blur partisan boundaries and unite political figureheads in leading the American people into the direction most advantageous to America. The media barrage of post-September 11th set the stage for America’s next course of action in declaring a war in Afghanistan - before troops had even been dispatched! This complete galvanization of American conception is usually indicative that something more profound is afoot, and so I set out to discover exactly what significant supposition might be overlooked.

I have not uncovered any form of insidious subterfuge, and I don’t expect to. I don’t think one exists. I do think, however, that a conscious effort is being made by the government and, subsequently, the media, to keep Americans from uncovering the true intentions of the groups involved in the September 11th attacks. Yes, a hatred of American culture played a role in the attacks, but was it the only role? No. Was it even a substantial role? No. The active impetus in the September 11th attacks was nothing more than preservation.

This understanding is what makes writing September 11th off as a manifestation of hatred so difficult. If the attack is interpreted as a military action (which, for all intents and purposes, it should be), then the motivation to destroy the representation of American economic eminence was not necessarily a hatred of it as much as it was a fear of it. It was in the interest of totalitarianism that the Twin Towers were destroyed, not hate. One society can flourish only as much as another acquiesces and it was in this context that American materialism was made a target of violence. The Western and Middle Eastern perspectives are foils to each other and, as such, threaten each other’s existence. We’ve seen American military intervention in the Middle East for years – on September 11th, it was reciprocated. The perpetrators of the September 11th attacks were nothing more than military representatives working to curb Western influence on the rest of the world.

Verisimilitude is relative. Of course we think we were victimized; we were victimized. Our cognitive process becomes problematic, however, when we refuse to acknowledge the existence of our victims. Terrorists attacked us in order to protect their interests, which we threatened. How many times have we done the same, under the banner of righteousness? The United States felt threatened by the Guatemalan government in 1954, as the Afghani extremists felt threatened by American materialism on September 11th, 2001. The difference in these situations is that the Guatemalan government was successfully overthrown by the United States in 1954, whereas, well, these colors won’t run in 2001. The Guatemalan people who had democratically erected their government probably felt victimized when it was forcefully destroyed by the United States, but Americans didn’t lose any sleep over it. We acted in the name of righteousness; our way of life is superior.

We probably didn’t lose any sleep when the CIA overthrew the Chilean government in 1974, either. Our imperialistic tendencies don’t often warrant introspection. Only the attacks we bear the brunt of are scrutinized, but to the point whereupon the other way of life, the other culture, is vilified. The Taliban doesn’t allow women to walk down the street, or men to shave their beards! It’s all just propaganda. It doesn’t matter that our society deems this way of life to be depraved; their culture would be defamed regardless of doctrine or practice. It is different, and therefore it is wrong. It is different, and therefore we are right in leading them into salvation. It is different, and therefore it must be westernized.

Americans are prone to finding fault only where they are looking. We are loath to reminisce our participation in past military ventures because we are cognizant of the fact that rapacious imperialism adorns the pages of our history books. The media compared President Bush’s national address immediately following the attacks to Franklin Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor address, but the situations were far from analogous. Would it not be more congruous to compare the Taliban’s attack on the United States to the shelling of the city of Veracruz in 1914 by several American battleships because the government of Victoriano Huerta threatened American business interests in Mexico? It would, but it wouldn’t solidify American support of the United States’ latest Middle Eastern intervention. The goal is to focus our frustration outwardly, to temper our own hatred of Middle Eastern dogma into a tangible show of force. It is then that we can execute our totalitarian agenda and, once again, complete the cycle.

Self-preservation is a ubiquitous state; it just possesses a multitude of circumstantial naming conventions. Acting in the protection of economic, moral, or social interests is righteous intervention, and righteous intervention is received as terrorism. This is too convoluted for the public to digest, though - we want something that will easily satiate our need to be well-intentioned victims. We want to be hated, but we don’t want to be told why; truthfully, it doesn’t matter.

I reflected on the woman’s question for a moment before answering.

“Well, you know…”, I began. Feeling awkward, as if protecting myself from an enraged lion with a paperclip, I reconsidered my response.
“These colors don’t run” I replied. At this point the cashier was waiting for me to load my groceries onto the counter, so I left my contribution to the conversation at that.

She seemed pleased.


The following comments are for "The Military Impetus of the September 11th Attacks"
by ESeufert

Newt Gingrich had a novel idea for the rest of the Republican Party: if I can blame the media for being too liberal - regardless of whether or not they actually are - by wrapping up my argument in colorful, pretty, and lengthy words, people will believe it. And it worked.

Your argument, sir, is guilty of being colorful, pretty, and lengthy. It also happens to lack substance. You say many things which may or may not be true (along with many things that are verbose in an attempt to be witty, confounding and gosh-darn-intelligent) but decide not to offer any evidence, assuming that what you believe to be the facts that you state are common truths.

Re: the Bush speech vs. the Roosevelt speech. They're merely different because YOU say they are.

Re: our hatred of Middle Eastern dogma. Has it ever occured to you that WTC may not be the last of their targets? It's very naive and idiotic to believe otherwise, and to assume that we assume your naive and idiotic assumption while fighting a feelgood war.

And we do know what's right, btw. I don't see your editorial being supported by stating the virtues of Middle Eastern dogma.

You're right about one thing, though. It is us vs. them, and it doesn't matter the reasons. They can't stand us, and we're not taking any more sh*t from those who abuse Islam (and those who blindly follow them). I don't see anything wrong with war being us vs. them. Do you?

Your conspiracy theories do not impress me, and they are ones that I refuse to acknowledge as factual.

A couple of footnotes: yes, here in Staten Island, I live just a half-hour's drive from Manhattan. And yes, I cannot stand anti-war ultra-liberals who sit in the cheap seats away from the places where they are killing us; ultra-liberals who want to make the rest of us feel self-pity for being rich, free and alive at the same time. But I happen to be a liberal myself, and can't find myself to be in the same state as Bush Jr. and remain sane at the same time. You don't have to be a conservative to support the war (you can actually loathe conservatives if you so choose, as I did), you just don't have to be ashamed to be an American because of some made-up reasons that justify the killing of innocent people.


( Posted by: TachyonOne [Member] On: March 2, 2002 )

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