9/11. It’s that time of year again. The amount of attention given to the events of 2001 is declining, but a few voices still exhort us: “Remember 9/11!”
There are some memorable questions here: WHAT should we remember? Or perhaps, better yet: What lessons should we have learned?
Regarding lessons to be learned, I vote for: Violence breeds violence.
The attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, did not come out of nowhere. Contrary to popular beliefs, fueled by the popular media, 9/11 followed a long history of United States government-sponsored military aggression in the Middle East; you can make a lot of enemies through violence–especially when you smugly preach liberty, justice and freedom for all while killing and maiming wives, children, and thousands of other innocent civilians.
For a not so brief summary of recent U.S. violence in the Middle East, read this . For a very readable essay on the cycle of violence in which the U.S. military-industrial complex has embedded the nation at great profit, read this .
There probably are always some people who gain something they want through the use of violence. Certainly the U.S. military-industrial complex and the U.S. corporate media have benefitted greatly from the violence perpetrated by the government in the name of freedom, democracy, and, Heaven forgive them, God. But perhaps they have not gained as much as right-wing extremist groups in the Middle East such as ISIS, whose ranks have swelled since 9/11. There are a lot of arguments concerning the US role in the evolution of the Islamic State—for a broad sample, see these articles in the New Yorker, The Atlantic , and Counterpunch .
The message in all these articles is that US government policies have contributed to the recent growth in terrorist groups. So, perhaps the things we should remember about 9/11 should NOT include belief in the claim that the US was the gentle giant good guy viciously attacked for no reason by utterly vicious and psychotic bad guys.
Perhaps, if we truly want to move ahead towards peace and security, we would benefit more by remembering that the US government should not create power vacuums in places where imperialism has left behind a lot of righteous anger and, more importantly, that it should not send Americans off to die in other lands so that it can increase its control of oil or terrify other people.
What I remember most about 9/11 is the compassion, the empathy, the bravery of the many American first responders and civilians who risked all to help the innocent civilians targeted in the 9/11 attacks. And what I want to remember each 9/11 in my future is: 1) Rewatch this video. 2) Learn everything I can about anyone who seems to be using 9/11 for political gain, and 3) Spend the next year speaking out against the ongoing US governmental aggression that continues to kill innocent children and others .