Beware the xenophobic spiral...
September 16, 2001
Last Tuesday, America felt personally violated in the worst way possible. The war and strife that happens every day on the other side of the world and usually serves as a background din on CNN while America eats is super-sized dinners actually violated the safety net of America and affected the country's largest metropolis in a big way.
Not only did a couple seconds of impact destroy what took over seven years to construct, it also took, uprooted, or adversely affected the lives of the entire country, and through the global implications, the entire world.
CNN, still airing non-stop coverage of the events, is only starting to regain the distinction of its individual SHOWS, only recently ceasing the "never-ending news update" format. However, as Americans become nervous, the incidents of xenophobic stupidity mount, and given the current trend, we may soon be subjected to a CNN slogan like "All hate...all the time". They may even need to change CNN Headline News to CNN Hatemonger News to accommodate the coverage!
Americans feel cheated. They were told that when the WTC was designed, it would withstand the impact of a plane, not that anyone though anything like last Tuesday's horrors would ever happen in downtown New York City. This may have been true in the late 1960's, when a Boeing 707 was the largest jet you could throw at it. However, as things become bigger and better, we have improved air traffic, and now have supersize planes that hold almost 300 people, as well as immense amounts of fuel, hence the cross-country flights that took off, at about 20 and 30% capacity, and slammed into the twin towers.
Americans feel personally betrayed. The sick people who did this failed to see that these were real, live people in these buildings - mothers, fathers, children, people who were just there making a living. The planes and their subsequent consequences made no differentiation between the demolition of symbols of corporate America and the demolition of human life, and this may be what has outraged people the most of all. The two appear to be distinct to most people in the Western world, and anyone's inability to differentiate between the two ires us.
The people that did this weren't slaughtering people. They were attacking a strategic and symbolic target, a high-density concentration of what corporate America represents. In the process, thousands of lives were lost.
Think about WHY the towers were there in the first place. They didn't house people. They housed CORPORATE OFFICES. The presence of people was surely secondary in the eyes of the perpetrators. Why would I say something so heartless? Because just a few years ago as the United States was bombing the shit out of Iraq, we were led to believe the same thing by CNN and the American government - that the strategic targets of missile strikes were inhabited exclusively by "bad guys". The inhumanity was numbed by this Novocain notion, and as long as America had a guy with facial hair to hate, everything was justified.
Look at all the facial hair we have to hate THIS TIME. Not since the Ayatollah have we been faced with such a hairy face to direct rage and xenophobia at. For some unknown reason, virtually every leader of every country the U.S has engaged in active combat with were all excessively hairy, or, in the case of Adolf Hitler, had what Americans would consider "creepy" facial hair. Osama bin Laden, a multimillionaire Saudi construction magnate with his fingers in many pies, now thought to be in hiding in Afghanistan, is thought to be the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks. Why? Because he's hairy enough for America to get riled up at? Who knows. However, the real question is...WHY?
As Americans are no doubt asking..."Why do they (the perpetrators) hate us so much?"
Unfortunately, the answer to that question has many answers, a lot of them painful. The "US" that the rest of the world hates is not the groups of people who died trying to ascend into a burning skyscraper to save lives. It's the ugly devil of corporate America that supports companies who exploit poor underage workforces in the poorest nations of the East. It's the ugly devil of a government who funds terrorists and trains people like Osama bin Laden himself when it is convenient for America's agenda, as it was when the U.S. wanted communist Russians ousted from Afgjhanistan not that long ago. It's American-based multinationals that profit from selling weapons to countries engaged in holy wars. It's Hollywood, who exploits the misfortunes of everyone from the passengers of the Titanic to the victims of serial killers all in the name of our entertainment. It's corporate entities like Monsanto who have the audacity to patent a gene that could potentially allow a corporate monopoly on plant life (US Patent 5,723,765 - Monsanto's "Terminator" gene), and the bought-off government agencies who would allow such a patent to be registered in the first place. It's the formulaic government strategy of "narrowly get elected, wage a war, increase popularity, rinse, and repeat".
Many Americans who read this may feel personally offended by these statements. You shouldn't. All of the American people that I have met or befriended are no less than great people. Their greatness is emphasized as so many do all they can to get by and overcome last Tuesday's tragedy, and I feel their pain.
I feel their pain because, just as Americans are great people, the people in the Middle East are just the same. However, many of us will never be able to get past the simplified imagery we see on the news (like those Palestinians firing their guns in the air following last Tuesday's attacks), and see the true colours of these people.
In high school, a friend and I had this guy named Mohammed in our geography class. He was quite a bit older than us, and having recently emigrated to Canada, needed to "go back" and take some compulsory courses for his education to be recognized here and permit him entry into university. To us, he doled out endless Tim Horton's coffees and cigarettes, while we helped him overcome his language barrier and eventually pass the class with flying colours. Over the year, he recanted horror stories of the Middle East that made our heads spin - and wonder what would possess anyone to want to stay there. The answers, even with bombs going off in your back yard, are the same answers as someone in Small Town U.S.A. wouldn't leave it for something "bigger and better". People are people. Don't forget that, especially now.
Beware of the xenophobic spiral. There is a lot of pent-up rage across the continent, with the potential for more evil and wrongdoing than we were sickeningly subjected to last week.
Just remember whose urban penis envy placed such a huge pair of cocks in the New York skyline, and whose behaviour painted a pair of virtual targets on the sides of them. Remember that as good people continue to comb through the remains of the two giant monoliths, big business rolls on as it sets up to get back to "business as usual" - downloading backups of data, setting up makeshift office spaces, and thinking of ways to offset the financial setbacks of last week (which will undoubtedly include an unprecedented number of corporate mergers).
As the NASDAQ sets to open up in the morning, it will do so in the void of at least 5,000 lives. Sure, analysts are worried about the economy, but this seems so insignificant at this time. Big business will bounce back, as it historically always seems to.
Unless New Yorkers know how to "back up" their loved ones prior to last Tuesday, many aren't that fortunate.