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Voice Against America

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(Note: This post originally appeared at http://stevesilver.blogspot.com on 9/12/’02. It can be found here.

Yesterday was the time for touchy-feely commemorations of 9/11; now it’s okay to get angry again. During lulls at work today I read the Village Voice’s 9/11 anniversary coverage, which contained no rememberances whatsoever of any of the victims, nor any reference to survivors, or even to the “hole in the soul” of New York (and America) that remains to this day. No, for them 9/11 is the time to talk not of the remarkable unity our city and our country have experienced in the last year, but rather of just how horrible our country has been, to the rest of the world and to ourselves. Unless you’re an ardent leftist, it’ll be hard to read this issue of the Voice without wanting to tear it in half.

First crazy Washington correspondent James Ridgeway, who’s been writing for years as though “the Christers” are planning another Holocaust and it’s right around the corner, writes a ludicrous piece called “I Hear America Sinking,” in which he lays out all the ways America is in the shitter. But he doesn’t write it like it makes him sad- in fact, he’s downright giddy. It’s as though he can’t wait for the next big attack, ’cause that way we’ll all get what we deserve.

Any territory not covered by Ridgeway is picked up by Alisa Soloman, on hiatus from writing her usual valentines to the “activists” of Hamas. Her “Things We Lost in the Fire” is not only just as laughable as Ridgeway’s ramblings, but it’s also dishonest, with factual errors all over the place.

Now I preface by saying that I am no great fan of George W. Bush, and certainly not of John Ashcroft. I agree that this administration has enacted legislation and put into place policies that are certainly questionable with regards to civil liberties. I’ll be the first to admit that they’ve gone too far. But to put forth the notion that the civil liberties issue is the story to come out of 9/11 is not only closed-minded, but it’s absolutely insulting to every person who died that day.

Solomon laments the “thousands” of Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants who were detained for months, and later deported. But what she doesn’t mention is that virtually all of those people were illegal immigrants who had either overstayed their visas or never had visas in the first place- and many of them had earlier been on terrorist “watch” lists. How can anyone complain that people who aren’t even supposed to be in the country are being punished?

Solomon goes on to protest the firings of talk show host Bill Maher and openly terror-supporting college professor Sami al-Arian, as though they’re indicative of Fascist America raising its ugly head; of course, neither man was fired by the government, and every single day constant, pointed criticism of both President Bush and the War on Terror takes place -from college campuses to comedians to media outlets from the New York Times on down- and of course not a word of it has ever been censored by the government. Nor should it be.

Solomon doesn’t stop with empty accusations- she also makes several surprisingly shoddy factual errors: She calls the Vice President’s wife “Lynn” Cheney; Tom Ridge is referred to as head of the “Homeland Security Department,” when of course his current title is “Director of the Office of Homeland Security” (the Department doesn’t yet exist, and when it does it will be led by a Security of Homeland Security, who will not necessarily be Ridge). She lambasts the ineffectiveness of the new airport security measures by invoking the case of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid; as anyone who followed that case knows, Reid’s presence on the flight can’t be blamed on U.S. security screeners because he boarded in Paris. And most insultingly of all, Solomon calls the name “USA PATRIOT Act” a “jingoistic acronym.” Gotta love when just the thought, just the mention, of America, or the flag, or patriotism itself, is dismissed merely as “jingoism.” And she writes this on 9/11. How dare she.

In the Voice’s strange morality, the deportation of an immigrant who was in the country illegally is somehow a greater tragedy than an innocent person killed by a kamikaze jet or a suicide bomb. What Ridgeway, Solomon, Richard Goldstein, and the gang don’t realize is that they are defending the “liberties” of people who would likely kill them in a heartbeat if given the chance. Because to them, Bin Laden isn’t the real bad guy. Bush is. So unless you’re a masochist, ignore the Voice’s sub-Chomsky drivel and read this amazing piece by James Lileks instead. That’ll teach you all you need to know about how to remember September 11- and its true impact on America.

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About Stephen Silver

  • What struck me most in the aftermath of the event was the sheer volume of writers (some worthy, most not so much) dragging out the coverage into the shadowy cracks in the corners and beyond in search of what seemed suspiciously like a concerted push for industry fame.

    The sad fact is that the tragedy of September 11th inevitably produced an emotional rather than an analytical response, and therefore provided a more tenable platform for each hack (and i use the term only reservedly after sitting through the umpteenth emotionally-pitched yet totally hollow) writer or film maker to trivialise the event by reducing it to an exercise in marketing to a traumatised, yet morbidly curious, audience.

    In some sad way, much like the British political aide sacked for suggesting that the events of the day would provide ideal cover for any unpopular policy decisions to be announced, I objected most to the fact that these careerist leeches in many respects made the event about ‘them’.

    PS. If the sole legacy of 9/11 is to fuel a climate of fear and hate, then, frankly, we can’t honestly say that we learned anything from it.

  • Rory Dickson

    The left is no doubt full of all kinds of fanciful ideas like the idea that Al-Queda attacked America because it represents the oppressed Third-world poor. Al-Queda attacked America because a)its military presence in the Middle East and its support of Isreal strongly violates its neo-fundamentalist ideology, and b) because Al-Queda seeks a worldwide fundamentalist Islamic revolution, and America being the world super-power, it is the biggest target.

    However, the extreme form of capitalism that has arisin in the past 50 years and is quickly commercialising the world (commonly termed globalization), is centered in the U.S., and the U.S. certainly pushes this globalization on the rest of the world. The book “Jihad Vs. McWorld” illustrates this nicely, and I think that the evil of globalization attracts the evil of extreme reactions to globalization like Al-Queda.

    However, these facts should not be used to try and blot out the fact that Sept. 11 was a costly human tragedy, and an atrocity. And the victims should not be seen as the just recipients of a twisted backlash to their governments twisted policies.

    To me, one of the prime faults of ideologues of any sort is their ability to reduce human beings to aspects of an abstract principle, to seek justice for “humanity” at the expense of all those irritating people who get in the way.