Letters to the Editor 9/24

America should understand its image in Middle East

An English journalist, Robert Fisk, based in the Middle East for more than 20 years, described Sept. 11?s attacks as ?the wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people.? This statement seems almost to suggest that the United States may bear some measure of responsibility in crushing and humiliating them.

In the midst of public information as so many Americans know it, such a suggestion would appear arbitrary and even treasonous. For most U.S. citizens, there needn?t be a large scope of concern including far away people. This is a society of tremendous stability, but at the same time equally unique in how it immured its citizens are from themselves as well as from the way they?re represented abroad.

But whether conscious of it or not, our money, our appetites and our power have far-reaching effects all over the globe. Unfortunately, American citizens are almost totally inaccessible to international media and to the decisions made and actions done in their names, which have often had devastating consequences.

From the television, one could only understand that the nation is under attack by a strange people who want to make war on freedom and the people who love it. Perhaps now it is too late to look into the destructive and detrimental relationships the United States has with the people of the Middle East. To say such things at this time can be interpreted as sedition and one could even be accused of being a partisan of the ?evildoers.?

In spite of this, I think it?s very important to examine the way in which people in places such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq understand the United States and the ways in which this country has imposed itself in the region in order to maintain its vital interests and promote its self-interested definition of ?stability.? Especially since it appears that policy makers and news networks alike are preparing for war as a foregone conclusion.

For decades, the Unites States has used its economic and military authority abroad to procure resources and to support (and even install) regimes sympathetic to its commercial and defensive strategies. For the people of Iraq, this has meant being bombed into the pre-industrial age followed by an embargo that has killed and continues to kill additional hundreds of thousands.

Saudi Arabia, home of the holiest in Islam, had to play host to the U.S. military as it destroyed Iraq. This is not because Saudi Arabians are fond of the U.S. military and its objectives, but because this is a nation controlled by a monarchy, which for a long time has sustained itself through its relationship with those who buy its oil. So many people of the ?Arab street? have no representation whatsoever in their respective states. Nationalism is not an option for them; they have theocratic patriotism instead.

Afghanistan is so unbelievably poor and war-torn that the country confounds U.S. war planners because there isn?t anything to bomb worth the value of high-dollar missiles.

Another place where strong anti-American sentiment can be found is in occupied Palestine. The United States has been the sole supporter of Israel in its apartheid relationship with the Palestinians. Palestinians live in quarantined, abject poverty with nothing resembling self-determination.

All state-sponsored atrocities committed against them by Israel are done with military hardware made in the United States, and their diplomatic appeals to the United Nations are refused time after time by United States veto power.

Israel is the most heavily armed prescience in the Middle East and is subsidized by the United States to remain that way. Israel has a proper modern state where technology flourishes and people have jobs and buy things. Israel also represents U.S. will in a region where there is strong adversity to it. From a U.S. perspective, there could be no benefit to supporting a state of Palestine.

Though they were no doubt exaggerated and repeated for dramatic effect, there were indeed people who saw the murder and destruction of Sept. 11 as a victory. That kind of viciousness simply cannot be understood. But why was no one bothered when people clinked beer glasses in this country while watching abstract polygons being destroyed on television in a war fought for oil, where the attackers always remained out of range and where countless innocent civilians continue to die? But, our leaders of the free world would reply, this is how we must send a message to Saddam Hussein. In that same perverse logic, jihad warriors have sent a message as well.

The calls for muscle flexing and heavy-metal, rock ?n roll retaliation are deeply troubling, especially considering so many of those making them know nothing of the people they want to destroy. The duty now to grieving Americans should above all be to defuse the energies of those who make a twisted leap into seeing holy war as the only way remaining to redeem their wretched lives. But, of course, a disarmed approach to these people in person would be interpreted only as weakness. Most people would agree that Gandhi?s methods were admirable, but Gandhi is for poor and oppressed people, not for proud people with aircraft carriers and cruise missiles.

Most Americans live within a stable routine of going to work and consuming goods. Though our leaders may describe our nation as the defenders of the free world, our citizens have no practical reason to even be curious or aware of the rest of the world or how they are represented in it. This is a society where decisions are externalized, made elsewhere by professional people, but this is likely to change soon.

There are too many citizens who will not allow the nation to remain personified as a greedy and gluttonous Goliath trouncing people to satisfy itself. The United States ought to be a very proud culture. Its freedom and creativity are admired the world over, but we cannot continue to yield control of our society as though it runs on autopilot.

Michael Thorman is a senior majoring in history.

Attacks unified nation, brought sense of community

The cowardly terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon two weeks ago were more than just an attack on the American government, they have become the defining moments in our generation?s history that will test whether we have what it takes to continue the legacy of our parents and our grandparents before us. Our parents had the assassination of President Kennedy and the war in Vietnam. Our grandparents had World War II.

Our generation has been labeled Generation X ? a generation of spoiled and ignorant kids who only bother themselves with sex and drugs. A generation that was believed to have thought patriotism died with WW II.

I have always felt as though we were better than that, and I think that the events of this past week have proven this not only to myself but the whole world. We are a generation to be reckoned with.

Let us forget about the small number of people that can?t get past their ignorance and look at what really happened this week.

I have watched a generation unite and show their true colors. I have seen lines of blood donors five hours long filled with young adults.

I have seen individuals give up days and nights to help collect food, clothing and money to donate to charitable organizations like the Red Cross.

I have seen throughout the USF campus and the nation young adults who have decided that there is much more they can do besides just sitting down and watching television. I have seen doers rather than talkers. I have seen our future leaders sweat red, white and blue as they tried to make a difference in the nation they love, and a difference we all have made.

As President Bush has said numerous times, we are faced with a new type of war ? a type of war in which the enemy can?t always be seen or even known. I would furthermore like to warn terrorists that they are fighting a new generation.

A generation whose individualism and intelligence will win this war on hate. No longer will we sit down and watch our lives pass through our televisions.

We will stand together united as a force against terrorism. May you be forewarned! United we stand, together we will fight.

Joe Nirenberg junior majoringin political science.

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