Special Edition - At the Back Fence
Before and After September 11, 2001

(September 21, 2001)

(Updated October 9, 2001 with Reader Comments

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Where were you on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th? I was in the car driving my daughter to school. After the first crash, I had no idea there would be a second, could not fathom that this could be a terrorist attack. Who could wrap their mind around the fact that someone, some group, some nation could be so filled with hate that they could even contemplate the killing of so many innocents?

By the time I got home and turned on the news, it was just in time to see that second plane make its way toward the second World Trade Center tower. Though I've relived it probably a hundred times since then with all the rerunning of footage on television, seeing it the first time has seemingly been hardwired into my head. And then the Pentagon. And then the crashed plane in Pennsylvania. And then getting a call from my daughter's school - it was being evacuated because of its close proximity to a Federal building.

Just yesterday I heard on the radio signs of the effect of this on our population. As my husband said, I am the poster girl for a terrorist attack, and when I asked him if we should buy gas masks, he responded, "What - are we supposed to wear them 24 hours a day? Should I dig up the rose bushes and start pouring a concrete bunker?" If they wanted to change my life, they've succeeded. Here are the signs mentioned on the radio:

My husband was supposed to fly in a couple of weeks to Boston for a seminar at Harvard. Before they actually cancelled it, he was strongly considering driving for my sake. Earlier in the week I emailed a friend of mine who is an airline pilot, and who used to be in the military. She is strongly considering a change of career, not wanting to be an "unarmed combatant in the war against terrorism." Her email scared me - given her military background, I consider her incredibly brave.

Two nights ago I gathered my family around the television to watch a two-hour special by the Discovery Channel and the BBC. The documentary was to explain to viewers "why they hate us." That's clearly important to understand, and has become more important to me even as I've heard from friends around the world. Let me explain.

I maintain a discussion list for AAR staff. It was originally set up for us to talk about the site, but in the nearly three years since organized, it has become part business tool, part soapbox, and part support vehicle for each of us. We've had babies, sick children, marriages, divorces, car problems, and deaths. There have been great joys - and great tragedies.

Blythe Barnhill, our managing editor, was in Austin, Texas with her youngest child on the morning of September 11th, far away from her husband and three of her children. She had flown to Austin the week before to help her sister, who'd just had a baby. Now she couldn't get home. Her flights were cancelled a number of times and the thought of renting a car to drive it so far with a toddler was daunting. Those of us in Dallas offered to drive down to Austin and take her to our homes to await a local flight because Dallas is headquarters to both American Airlines and Southwestern Airlines. When we heard she'd arrived home safely out of Austin, all of us were immensely relieved her "small" ordeal was over. AAR Reviewer Rachel Potter, who doesn't have weekend access to the Internet, called me Sunday morning, worried about Blythe, wondering if she'd made it home safely.

You can imagine the email we sent each other in those first few days after the attacks. They were filled with confusion, sorrow, and anger. They were no doubt all the more confusing to those on our review staff who are not American and who do not live in the US. Americans argue, bitch, moan, and bellow at times, but we have a different temperment from any other nation in the world. We are essentially a nation of outspoken optimists in a world filled with weary fatalists.

When both our European reviewers joined the discussion, their comments were surprising. Because I am one of those people who needs to figure out everything, I started to visit Internet sites for various international publications. What I read in many further surprised me. I'm here to tell you all that the world doesn't see the US as we see ourselves.

As much as I love my country, one of the great freedoms we have in the US is that we are not coerced into loving it. It's okay to believe a policy stinks; it's even okay to say it. We're not going to require everyone on the planet to sign a loyalty oath to the US; we just want every freedom loving and peaceful person to know that we've long considered it our job as the "Greatest Democracy on Earth" to protect others. Unfortunately, that's sometimes in the more recent past gotten us into trouble as the lines between "friend" and "enemy" have blurred.

We are well and truly a melting pot; most other nations are far more homogenous than the US. We have short attention spans, are spoiled in terms of creature comforts, and love to argue and complain. It's that last duo of traits that the rest of the world doesn't fully understand. We are quite capable of saying in one moment that George W. Bush stole the election from Al Gore and saying the very next moment that we are united in standing with the president in a war against terrorism. Others around the world are too busy recovering from the whiplash effect of hearing that to actually believe it. But it's true. As a nation, we put it all out there - no nation has criticized itself more after Vietnam than we have. From my studies of history, most nations don't broadcast over and over again their own faults and shortcomings. Is it any wonder, then, that others in the world don't know what to make of us, and worry about our might?

In no way am I saying that the US should change in this arena. My wish would be that all countries would be as honest about their shortcomings as we are. Some European nations have never fully come to grips with their actions in WWII, for instance, so why should it surprise us to hear their citizens' fears about the innocents in this upcoming war on terrorism? There is a lack of national memory for some of these countries; all they know and remember is the strength of the US - and the mistakes it has made in the more recent past.

They're also not used to our bluster. When George W. Bush talked of a "crusade" and the need for us to respond with force, I believe many around the world thought he was speaking in terms of revenge. Well, I don't look at it that way at all. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, we didn't declare war on Japan out of revenge; we declared war on Japan because they had declared war upon the US.

It's true that the terrorists are not a particular nation, but it's equally true that certain nations not only harbor terrorists, but support them as well. I believe the true aim of any future action taken by the US is to put an end to state-sponsored terrorism.

I understand equally that there are many around the world who believe that retaliation is not something the US should undertake - again, I don't believe retaliation is what we have in mind. We have been bombed just as the Nazis bombed Europe in WWII. If the perpetrators are harder to find, that doesn't mean we shouldn't look for them. If they hide behind governments that harbor them, those governments should be taken to task.

This does not mean that the US is going to start attacking France, Germany, and other countries that have allowed terrorists to live within their borders. What it does mean is that those nations - those so-called "'rogue" nations who are known throughout the world as supporting terrorists for a variety of reasons - should be scared.

Obviously a nation that is not a democracy is not its government, and hopefully the people in those nations will rise up and essentially throw out the bad guys. At this point that seems unduly optimistic; I believe some of those nations are going to have great civil unrest as a result of their support of the US. In some of those non-democratic nations, the people themselves have such hatred that they teach it to their children in school. How such hatred is rooted out and eliminated seems an impossible task to me.

In much of my reading, I've come across the idea that men like bin Laden would like to world to be as it was when the Islamic empire spread far and wide. That was, of course, in medieval times. The modern world itself is a threat if one adheres to this type of view; indeed, if we examine the laws of the Taliban in Afghanistan, many of the strictures are against modernity. One gets the feeling that they believe if people behaved as they did 600 years ago, the Islamic Empire would simply rise again. I know that this is not the view of most who follow the faith of Islam; they are not any more accountable for these obscene actions than I am.

For those of varying faiths around the world, please know that the US was founded on freedom of religion. The actions of a few, as we all have seen, should never be mistaken as the beliefs and actions of the many. That works both ways.

The strictures placed on women are the most difficult. Among them are these:

  • No working outside the home, except in limited circumstances like medicine.
  • No dealing with male shopkeepers.
  • No formal schooling.
  • No treatment by male doctors. (Separate hospitals for men and women.)
  • No associating with foreign men.
  • No laughing loudly.
  • A stranger should not be able to hear your voice.
  • No activity outside the home unless with a male family member.
  • Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman's voice).
  • Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman's footsteps.)
  • Ban on women gathering for any recreational purpose.

These are not all the guidelines, they are simply what seem to me to be the most oppressive and frightening. Given that women are no longer receiving formal schooling and that women are not allowed medical treatment by male doctors, this will eventually result in women not being able to receive decent medical treatment at all when the current crop of female doctors dies out.

My point in providing this information is that we as Americans need to understand the mindset of others, whether they are friends from around the world or "fundamentalist terrorists" in Afghanistan. People are always the key, and in another way as well. Watching those planes fly into the WTC over and over has an unreal quality to it (if you've seen Independence Day, you'll know what I mean). As horrific as those images are, hearing from survivors and family members of those who were killed have made this event far more real to me, as did small "real life" images.

Connie Chung's interview with Howard Lutnick, CEO of the bond-trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald, is a case in point. Roughly 700 of his 1,000 employees were killed in the attacks - his brother among them. Seeing his grief for those 700 families, families he considers his own to care for, moved me to tears. Hearing reports from wives and other loved ones whose brave men took on the hijackers on that doomed flight in Pennsylvania sends chills up and down my spine. All the stories have effected us, haven't they? Whether it was the voice mail recording of the pregnant woman stuck atop the WTC telling her husband she loved him or the man-on-the-street interviews with people waving pictures of the missing and providing phone numbers, we've all been touched and will remain so. One image that stayed in my head was shown on ABC News last week. There was a brief flash of a Raggedy Ann doll lying amidst the rubble somewhere; my only hope is that the child who owned that doll and his/her family dropped it on their way to safety.

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Before going further, I want to thank those from around the world who have expressed solidarity and/or condolences with what those of us in the US are going through. It has been of great comfort. I may have offended inadvertantly by some of what I've written here. That is not my intention. I am attempting - and probably not all that well - to explain to my fellow Americans that our view of ourselves, our country, is not universal, and not simply among those who "hate" us. Whether or not that can be changed is moot right now; we must simply accept at this point that we are not universally thought to be the "good guys," even among our allies.

So, where were you last Tuesday morning? How has your life changed since then? Are you looking at your family in a different way, looking at your children and wanting to apologize for the world they will inherit? Are you feeling helpless, hopeless and angry? Have you done something to try and get your life back to normal? What have you done to try and help? How have you felt when you saw someone you thought was from the Middle East?

Are you listening to the same songs over and over again, as I am? I've played Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA, Whitney Houston's The Star Spangled Banner, Ray Charles' America, and R.E.M's It's the End of the World As We Know It so many times off my computer that I'm sure even my cats could sing them now. Unfortunately, it's the title of that last song that stays with me most, that I hear in my head far too often.

A very dear friend of mine is married to an African American who converted to Islam many years ago. This wonderful man is one of the kindest and gentlest man souls I know and he has been harassed at work - they put box cutters in his desk. When my friend told me that now she wishes he would convert to Christianity, I reminded her that he would no longer be the same man she fell in love with and married. I hope that gave her solace. Although I am Jewish, she is Christian and he is Islamic, I have never felt anything but love from them both.

The purpose of this special column has not been to scare anyone, offend anyone (and I apologize in advance if I have inadvertantly done so), or to impart any particular wisdom. I know many of us are having trouble reading romance at this time, while for others being able to escape the harsh reality of our new world has been of solace. We are a community, and communities need to come together in times of tragedy. What do I think is going to happen? What do I think should happen? I have no answers for any of this; it's too complex, but my hope is that if we share our thoughts, fears, and dreams for the future, we can help one another through this time.

-- Laurie Gold

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October 9, 2001: Thanks to everyone who posted their comments to the message board. After having read all the posts, I can say my editorial is incomplete without them. As such, I've set up a permanent archive for some, not on a separate page, but on the same page as the editorial itself. Those that have been chosen provide a full range of opinion and emotions. Some are anathma to most of us, but since their viewpoint is shared in some part of the world they have been included as well.

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Leigh:
Laurie, I am so glad that you opened this topic here on the boards. I have wanted so much to post about it because it is consuming my life as you said. I have watched more TV this pass week, then in the whole year. Last night my television in my bedroon went out, and there was no question that I was going to get a new one.

I am teary almost all the times. You know how Hallmark commercial used to make you cry. Well tears come to my eyes over everything. When I heard that a sport's event was stopped because the people there wanted to hear Bush, I got teary. When I heard how much Americans have given to the relief effort I got teary. And of course ANYTIME anyone who has loss someone and talks about it . . . need I say it again, I get teary.

Americans as a whole are very generous people. And we share our wealth with others less fortunate than us. That is why it amazes me that we are hated in many parts of the country.

While I am so proud of America and it wonderful people, I am also ashamed of the ignorant, bias, bigoted individuals out there that are harrassing middle eastern men and women. Did you hear about the passangers who refused to fly on a plane because of two middle eastern men? Or the people that have been killed? Don't these people realize that this makes them no better than the people that did this?

In your research what were some of the reasons that we are hated?

LLB:
Your question deserves more of an answer than I can write, because there are so many reasons we are misunderstood, feared, and/or hated. Maura (scroll down to find her post) provided some reasons in her email, although I think I have read enough national and international coverage to separate the propaganda out of our national coverage.

The US has engaged in some bad policy choices in the past. In our war against communism, we backed the Afghani freedom fighters, but after the Russians left, we didn't offer them the kind of aid we offered Europe and Asia after WWII. As a result, their wrecked country, their wrecked populace, was left wide open to the type of hate-filled rhetoric espoused by some.

Our policy regarding Iraq has also led to considerable ill will. Rather than hurting Hussein, the sanctions have hurt his people. Remember, this is the same man who used chemical warfare against his own people - why should we have thought that sanctions would hurt him?

There's also our support of Israel. I'm a Jew, but I'm also the first to say the current Israeli Prime Minister is abhorent to me; this is the same man who, as defense minister, helped cause destruction in Lebanon. That said, Israel's existence since its creation in 1948 has been something most Arab nations have actively worked to destroy. Think the 1968 war. Think the Yom Kippur war. Personally, I think they should internationalize Jerusalem, but no one has asked me.

The American way of life is often seen as threatening to non-Americans. We are big, we are strong, and we are loud. Many non-democratic nations fear our open society. Others fear that simply by our size and strength, our cultural ways will eventually overtake theirs. When we were in England this summer and listened to various BBC radio talk shows, many discussions were about this - our Gaps and McDonalds and movies are in their cities and villages, and just as you and I might deplore that every town in the US now has a "shopping mall" look to it w/the same stores, they're afraid of that in Europe too.

Some of what we have to offer is no doubt wonderful - our spirit, our democracy, and our optimism. But we also offer prejudice and crass commercialism.

One last thing - our "melting pot" of a nation offers a different kind of population than you'll find just about anywhere else. Most nations are fairly homogenous in terms of its population - or have been until the last 20 years or so. I think this has had the effect of creating fear. I don't know that I've got this one figured out so well in my own head, but there's a point in it somewhere. Also, reading an editorial that Robin forwarded to me from the NYT reminded me of some other items I heard during my study of this issue. Although the US practically forced its NATO allies into helping the Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs, we are blamed for letting their attack on Bosnia occur. We were invited by the Saudis into their country - this is one of bin Laden's biggest issues.

And though I don't say it nearly so well as the author of that NYT editorial, a lot of the good things we do go unknown and/or unremembered. We've given aid to Egypt for years and forgiven debt to countless countries. Instead they focus on the fact that we have the death penalty, or Bush's plan to resurrect the "defense sheild" program. In this I agree with everyone else - it's a horrible idea.

Our might is a scary thing, but nothing compared to the major atrocities of the world committed by crazy people like Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, and Osama bin Laden.

Anne:
As an Australian I would just like to assure everyone that there are people of many other countries in the world who empathise with the people of the United States enormously. I have to wonder if you realise just how much? Thousands of Australians spent the whole night & morning of the 11th & 12th of September glued to their televisions because it was around 11.00p.m. here when the tragedy unfolded. Australia is only a small country but it had the third highest number of citizens killed in the disaster. Also I wonder if the people of the United States know that the Australian Prime Minister has pledged that Australia supports the U.S. completely in their War on Terrorism and yesterday he told us that it may very well cost Australian lives? Now mothers all over Australia are worried about if their sons and daughters will be conscripted to aid in this campaign. You see we don't have a very big military and this course of action may be necessary for us to offer any form of effective support.

This must surely be a major concern for American parents. I only pray that any response is measured and well thought out.

As your ambassador said in a speech at a memorial service here attended by roughly the number of people killed and injured in the world trade centre "Surely on September 11th God shed a tear" but in recognising the sharing of grief and sense of worlwide community at the service he added but "surely today he cannot help but give a smile" (my apologies for any slight misquotation if it exists). Please God we will be able to find a new worldwide strength and sense of community that ensures so many innocent lives were not taken in vain.

Holly:
Found this interesting statistics at 1 of my fave sites which might help to shed some light on perceptions
"Public Estimates on Foreign-Policy Issues
Topic/U.S. Perception/Reality
- Percentage of U.S. budget going to foreign aid
American Perception: 20 percent
Reality: Less than 1 percent
- U.S. share of development aid given by wealthy
countries to poor countries
American Perception: 33 percent
Reality: 16 percent
- Percentage of troops in Bosnia peacekeeping mission that are American
American Perception: 50 percent
Reality: 18 percent
- U.N. budget (operating plus peacekeeping)
American Perception: Around $40 billion*
Reality: Around $10 billion
Source: Program on International Policy Attitudes
Note: “U.S. Perception” figures represent latest available data and median responses.
* View of 48 percent of Americans polled. Twenty-eight percent estimated around $1.6 trillion" the article itself is more interesting and quite enlightening

LLB:
Thanks for sharing these stats, Holly. I wasn't necessarily talking about US aid in the last several years, but aid beginning w/WWII. I didn't think anyone would dispute how much money we poured into Europe to help rebuild after the war.

One other statistic I thought was interesting related to the Bosnian peace effort wherein Americans polled thought our troops accounted for perhaps half of all the UN troops but *only* accounted instead for 18%. I happen to think 18% is a remarkable figure in and of itself and wonder which individual nations had higher percentages.

But your point is well taken. Many of us in the US have rested on our laurels as the savior to the world. Look - I'll be the first to admit that since the 1980's when Reagan became president, we have become more isolationist, more nationalist, and perhaps more frightening. At the same time, it was also as a result of Reagan's presidency - much as it pains me to say so - that the USSR and its stranglehold on eastern Europe collapsed.

I think the world is so complex today that for every good thing, there's liable to be a bad thing. It reminds me of what the neurologist said about my daughter's recovery from meningitis/post infectious cerebritis. She said, "For every two steps forward, there will be one step backward."

Holly:
i did not mean to dispute you nor was i trying to put the us down that was not my intention at all you mentioned the us aid oft in your article and posts and you wondered why those gestures are not appreciated etc i wanted to show you that sometimes our - the us and the uk - perspectives are not always in tally with other certain nations' -and vice versea- as well as with the reality for instance - this is not to cause any fight this is about perception - your mention of the us aid to the uk during ww2 you would be surprised to hear what elderly english people say about the us regarding ww2; to guess what their opinions are - look at the timeline in any history book about ww2

you say that the us is honest in looking at its own history; perhaps that is true but i also think sometimes the us have a selective memory, eg it only remembered what it has done for others but not when and how you have no idea how oft i was told by many americans online this...remember we saved your asses - if it wasnt for us you would be speaking german today

i once witnessed an american slammed an indian poster in saying that india was not freed until the us aided india in freeing itself from the uk and the indian poster should not forget that; and the american went on to say that if the us can bomb india easily and whenever it want when the american poster was challenged by other posters -of different nations- he became very aggressive reminding everybody in the newsgroup what the us has done for the world and that if it was not for the usa the world would be truly f-----

i am very aware that not all americans are like those posters but i think it provided -for me- an interesting insight - he is the extreme end of the mentality and your editorial is on the other end, the gentle end

btw i am only using the us as an example regarding perception of a national mentality; i could list all right and wrong things the uk has done to itself and to the world, particularly regarding the british empire, and the uk's role in ethnic cleansing campaigns and black slavery huh i think the us knows this

why else american movies almost always had a brit in the villian role? -smile-

as i say it is all in perception -what are other words for perception i am sick of this word !- "One other statistic I thought was interesting related to the Bosnian peace effort wherein Americans polled thought our troops accounted for perhaps half of all the UN troops but *only* accounted instead for 18%. I happen to think 18% is a remarkable figure in and of itself and wonder which individual nations had higher percentages."

it is my guess that the us's 18 percent is actually the highest

"But your point is well taken. Many of us in the US have rested on our laurels as the savior to the world."

laurels?

"Look - I'll be the first to admit that since the 1980's when Reagan became president, we have become more isolationist, more nationalist, and perhaps more frightening."

again it is a matter of perspective; my perceptive of the reagan years are almost entirely different from yours; you do not want to know what was my perceptive of the thatcher years either - smile -

"At the same time, it was also as a result of Reagan's presidency - much as it pains me to say so - that the USSR and its stranglehold on eastern Europe collapsed."

i think there is more to it than that but i do not think anyone is denying that the us has made a considerable and valuable contribution to what makes the west is today but that is not the point the point is perception

you asked why and as i do not have the answer i brung you information that perhaps somehow will shed some light on understanding others' perception of the us which will hopefully in turn help me to understand their preception of the uk/the us/the west

however those issues about who did what and whose fault is it in whatever and who should be credited imo at this mo are irrelevant

the important issues to me now are terrorism and extreme fundalmentalism branch of a religion; how to deal with it

my current questions are
what is terrorism ?
who decide the definition of terrorism ?
when is a person a terrorist and when is a person a freedom fighter ?
where is the line between extreme fundamentalism and fundmentalism? who decides?

I want answers - or at least some understanding - to those questions

the uk currently holds the most detailed anti-terrorism policy in the world; after its release last year i am -still- reading it ! ha ha but it is an interesting read; it can be easily found on the internet if you are interested

"I think the world is so complex today that for every good thing, there's liable to be a bad thing. It reminds me of what the neurologist said about my daughter's recovery from meningitis/post infectious cerebritis. She said, "For every two steps forward, there will be one step backward."

nah that is a defeatist's pov -smile-

my perceptive of the world problems is - however painful a clash casts a new shade of understanding which itself brings hope - without hope there is no life; i have to believe in that or human losses - global wide - are truly a waste

good god writing this post has taken me over an hour! i hope i have not offended anyone i probably have but please understand it is my attempt to understand perception myself; i am still struggling to find out and understand the middle east's perception of the west in general

Stacy:
"my current questions are
what is terrorism ?
who decide the definition of terrorism ?
when is a person a terrorist and when is a person a freedom fighter ?
where is the line between extreme fundamentalism and fundmentalism? who decides?"

I want answers to these questions, too. There have been times when I have felt extremely helpless in the face of US policy, foreign and domestic. Living in Manhattan, the divide between the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, is evident everyday. When I walk by hundreds of homeless people, and can only give a few of them money, I wonder, where is the health care for people with mental illness? Why are middle class and wealthy people getting tax rebates when there is so much poverty in our country? In the wake of religious, racial, and sexual prejudice; of pollution and corruption in big business; of US corporate infiltration of other countries; of huge mega-companies reducing our access to information with mergers of papers, radio, and TV; of US occupation of other countries; of the US bombing of Sudan, I feel small and insignificant.

I think some terrorists may feel this same helplessness. That the problems of the world are so large and the powers-that-be so entrenched that the only recourse is violence. Maybe they think of themselves as freedom fighters. Fighting for the freedom of the less powerful.

I wonder, too, when Pres. Bush requires all the countries of the world to hand over terrorists, how far is he willing to take this? I mean, we have terrorists here in the US that our government hasn't ferreted out. How can other governments be expected to do what we have not? Our Christian fundamentalist extremists, for example, have terrorists, too--the anti-abortionists who kill doctors and attack clinics. Will these vigilantes count as terrorists? What about the terrorist accused of bombing gay nightclubs, abortion clinics, and Olympic Park in Atlanta? He didn't kill thousands, but doesn't he count?

Terrorism is huge. And it is not Muslim, Arab, Christian, or American. It is a world problem with many manifestations. Ehud Barak of Israel made a very interesting analogy, the most intelligent one I've heard so far on network television, that the world will have to come together to defeat terrorism in the same way we came together to defeat piracy on the high seas.

Unfortunately, I can't remember how that was done.

Karen 2:
"when is a person a terrorist and when is a person a freedom fighter ?
where is the line between extreme fundamentalism and fundmentalism? who decides?"

These two questions have been making me wonder a lot too.

The first question has gotten the USA in a lot of trouble before - when we've supported governments/groups and later gotten grief for it. Sometimes rightly so. Unfortunately,I think the difference between the two depends on which side of the fence you're on. I'm not being cynical but looking at the actions/reactions occurring around the world. And I do believe there is such a thing as evil and amorality. And that there are human-shaped objects walking around that fail the humanity test.

That's where the second question above comes into play. Right now I'd like some information on the Muslim religion. From little bits I've read there is really no tolerance there for other religions. Either you're a believer or an infidel.What is the difference between moderate and fundamentalist Muslims ? The small bit I've read doesn't show there being room for much divergence. The idea of Jihad can't be seen as anything but militaristic and offensive (as in movement, not emotions) to me. Is it truly possible for Muslims to live peacefully in the USA? Do their religious imperatives clash with our secular status? I'm really not trying to stir up trouble here. We americans are babies when it come to the terrorism/fundamentalism bit. We've had our own run ins with the mind set and actions of fundamentalists but they've been played down. If the part of the world we have to deal with is running by different rules we either have to make some rules of our own or accept theirs. My own preference is to live in a secular state and I don't want to be dictated to by people interpreting the will of their gods/religious beliefs.

"Ehud Barak of Israel made a very interesting analogy, the most intelligent one I've heard so far on network television, that the world will have to come together to defeat terrorism in the same way we came together to defeat piracy on the high seas."

The bad news is that piracy still exists and is very much alive.

We've been forcefully pushed into a different world and will have to adjust our ways of living. I hope we can preserve the freedoms that make possible the lives we CHOOSE to live.

Sarah S:
The small bit I've read doesn't show there being room for much divergence. The idea of Jihad can't be seen as anything but militaristic and offensive (as in movement, not emotions) to me.

From what I have read, a Jihad has absolutely NOTHING to do with violence. It's original purpose was/is a spiritual cleansing of one's self, not forcibly wipping out nonbelievers. It has only been perverted to take the meaning of a holy war against non-Muslims in recent times (last 50-100 years).

A lot of what we believe depends upon which side of a discussion one is on. I do not think the Crusaders a 1000 years ago saw themselves as rapists and murderers, though some of them were. Everything that I have heard and read about Islam is that, like true Christians and people who follows Jesuss' teachings, they are nonviolent teachings. What someone does with these original teachings is another matter.

No offence is intended with this post, and if I have mistaken any facts that I have recently heard, I apologize.

LLB:
Karen -
Not all segments of the Islamic community are fundamentalists, just as not all Jews are orthodox or all Christians are born-again or Baptists or Presbyterian. A good friend of mine is married to a Muslim - she is Christain and he does not think she is an infidel. Most in the Islamic community, I think, do not believe all unbelievers are going straight to hell any more than most Methodists believe all unbelievers are going straight to hell. Although Falwell and Robertson haven't called for all their followers to kill all non-believers, their rhetoric is often extremely exclusive - does this make Christianity itself utterly intolerant. As a Jew, I've grown up knowing many around the world hate me simply because of my religion, in a mistaken belief that I caused the death of Jesus Christ, so I like to think I know a thing or two about intolerance.

We should probably all do what we can to learn more about Islam. I'm sure that a great deal of the precepts are no different than the precepts of other religions around the world - a belief in God, a belief in doing good works, a belief in being a kind person, etc. I don't believe most of the Koran focuses on killing yourself for God to be bedded by 72 virgins.

The jihad concept has been perverted by extremists for their own reasons. Yesterday I read a very interesting article in the new Newsweek about how Egypt and Saudi Arabia are hotbeds for terrorist activities because their governments, which are quite repressive, needed to give their people an outlet. The outlet they've allowed to foster and grow is a hatred of the West and the US.

Karen2:
Thanks Sarah and Laurie for your comments re: Islam. You both seem to agree that the concept of jihad has been changed and the change is due to _extremism_.

And Laurie is right that the extremists aren't limited to one religion. We have our own homegrown brand here. They scare me too. One problem seems to be that those who want to interpret their religious beliefs in a harsh and narrow way aren't always being treated with the caution they deserve. When do beliefs that threaten others cross the line and become malignant organisms to be cut out and destroyed? And who makes the decisions? Scary, scary thoughts and actions are resulting from this act of terror released on us.

Sarah S:
"When do beliefs that threaten others cross the line and become malignant organisms to be cut out and destroyed? And who makes the decisions? Scary, scary thoughts and actions are resulting from this act of terror released on us."

YES, very scary thoughts. Our country is based on the fact of freedom of speech (and has come to encompass freedom of expression as well). If I want to stand on my soap box and shout to the world that Nazism is a good thing, I am able to do so. I think it "crosses the line" when you encourage others to hurt people (physically or mentally). You ask "when beliefs threaten others", that is NEVER allowed in the USA. You can think what you want but not act on it or encourage others to do so. Kind of like yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is none, you are hurting innocent people with panic or possible physical injury.

Karen2:
Sarah,
Your take on _crossing the line_is a good one. What I didn't say very well before is that there is such a thing as potential malignancy. Now we have to be paying a little more attention to it because we've seen the damage it can do when agents act on their beliefs. And there are a lot of different groups out there with malignant beliefs. Our energies are devoted to examining the extremist Muslim mind sets right now but we shouldn't be forgetting the other groups within the USA with the potential to act in a way that will harm people.

Sarah S:
I agree OK, and McVeigh (sp?) are perfect examples of that, but look at what happened at Ruby Ridge or Waco when you try to stop someone BEFORE they act. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), people in the US are innocent until proven guilty. Just look at women who are stalked. It is usually not until the stalker harms or kills them that action is taken. A fault in our system, but not one easily fixed.
Potential malignancy is right up there with my other example. As long as no one ACTS on their malignant feelings there is nothing we can do. Or maybe that is where we are heading and the government will infringe on those rights. Is it worth it? Tough question, one I have been asking myself a lot lately. I don' think the ACLU will like it much. You can't police thoughts or beliefs (until they are acted on).
Karen, I am not trying to be a PITA with this, it is a very tough question, and not one easily answered.

Robin:
I am a great admirer of Thomas Friedman, the NY Times Diplomatic Correspondant and writer of the book, FROM BEIRUT TO JERUSELUM. Yesterday morning's NY times column by him is a good example of his work. Friedman explains in the clearest terms possible "why they hate us." It goes beyond the usual explanations of jealousy and "they are so poor -we are so rich."

FROM BEIRUT TO JERUSELUM is still relevant. It is also entertaining, a fact that completely amazed me. Do read it. Before I began reading romance I had written only one fan letter to an author, Thomas Friedman. I was so stunned by his book I had to write. Despite the fact that his book had been on the NY Times bestseller list for many weeks, he wrote me a lovely handwritten note thanking me.

When I read FROM BERUIT TO JERUSELUM I had just finished a job where I had to travel to the Middle East (Bahrain) for a big American bank. I tried to learn as much as I could but it was very confusing. The war in Beruit was going on. I read the NY Times every day. But the stories were not illuminating. Day after day you would read about car bombings and kidnappings. You would read threats and counter-threats. But none of it made sense. The worst thing was that many of the reporters writing about the story seemed to get a certain glee out of the fact the issues were complicated. They loved writing things that indicated that Americans would never understand this part of the world, that Americans were so dense that they could not possibly ever understand.

Thomas Friedman was the first American writer I came across who believed that Americans could be helped to understand the issues of the Middle East if only they were clearly explained.

Friedman has had several editorials in recent NYT editions. You should read them.

Liz:
I think Mr. Friedman's words are so eloquent and true.

I feel afraid in one sense, but in another sense, I don't want to live a life in fear. There's some quote in the Bible, forgive me in advance for mangling it, that none of us know the day or hour or manner of our death. That's true under normal circumstances, and it's not any more or less true now. I think it's just that we feel the truth of it more sharply. And if this realization makes us appreciate the precious gifts we have in our lives, then we've wrested something good out of the fear.

cwicklund:
Years ago when my husband went back to college, he took an anthropology course that fascinated not only him but me. One section dealt with agrarian societies, stating that to avoid the trouble within, these societies blamed someone else--everyone else--beyond their borders. This has been going on for thousands of years. Doesn't surprise me that it still is. We are the "Great Satan" because it serves these governments to encourage this propaganda.

Americans are just the opposite. They remind me of compulsive me, worrying a subject to death, convinced that somehow we must be to blame. However, self-flagellation right now is pointless. I'm not suggesting we haven't made mistakes, and hopefully we have and will learn from them. But we mustn't let our guilt, or world criticism--it's going to come no matter what we do--keep us from doing the right thing. All the world benefits from our effort. Too bad we don't have the luxury of staying home and letting someone else do the dirty work. Being the only super power left has its burdens.



Maura:
On the morning of the eleventh, I came into work and everyone on my floor was clustered around the tv. At first, I couldn't believe what was happening but after watching the buildings collapse, it sunk in and I began frantically trying to reach my good friend, who works in the district attorney's office in Manhattan. I didn't get through until that evening but fortunately she was okay. I remained glued to the tv all night and phoned or emailed almost everyone I knew, to make sure that they were okay.

I have been trying to return to my normal routine but I have found that I can't watch the news or read the times anymore; it seems like it has turned into propaganda. I believe that this was a horrendous act and cannot be justified by anything and that these terrorists should be brought to justice but the media has oversimplified the rationale behind the attacks. The US is not disliked because of lifestyle, our economy, our fast-food culture alone. US foreign policy has brought on much of this hatred through supporting totalitarian regimes in the Middle East, including the Taliban, to whom our government just gave 43 million dollars for declaring the growing of opium to be unholy, through its "interventions" in countries such as Honduras, Cambodia, Laos and East Timor, and through its insistence on open markets, which inevitably lead to lower wages and standard of living in third world nations. I spent a year in Europe and when people learned I was American, they often would say something to the effect of, "I like Americans but we hate their government." Terrorism isn't going to be halted by bombing Afghanistan and killing civillians, a country which has been involved in one war or another for the past 20 years, or by sending in ground troops in a manner reminiscent of Vietnam. How can death scare people who are willing to die? Not to mention that there are terrorists in other nations, including our own (remember McVeigh?). The only way to stop terrorist attack is through treating the root causes - America's atttitude and actions towards the rest of the world.

I love this country but I refuse to ignore what our government does and continues to do, often without our knowledge. I appreciate the right I have to make these statements but I cannot ignore when the rights of others are circumscribed or ignored by the government.

Check out alternet.org for an alternative viewpoint.

Mariel:
I agree with a lot of what Maura said. Perhaps now many average American people will realize that there is suffering around the world that is in many instances directly attributed to US policy.

In this case however, I also agree with cwicklund: self-flagellation right now is pointless. Our country was attacked. It was a horrible thing to witness. Right now we need to seek justice against the guilty. The perpetrators of nearly 7000 murders are somewhere in the world; we need to find them and hold them accountable, we need to mete out punishment as our laws allow. This was an attack on the US, done on US soil, against US citizens and residents, against businesses and people who have economic ties to us, therefore justice should be done under US laws.

We have to realize that many people across the globe dislike Americans because they see us a hypocrites. I have to disagree with cwicklund when she wrote: "We are the "Great Satan" because it serves these governments to encourage this propaganda". The fact is that not many governments are behind the propaganda. The governments know that they are in power because the US helps them stay in power. Many people (and I mean ordinary citizens of many countries) see us as hypocrites because we are always espousing our beliefs in freedom, liberty, and democracy, but for many people they add "but only when it applies to Americans living in America". How can they not say that when those governments, who supposedly represent them, turn around and kill many of their own citizens. Our foreign policy mentality, since the beginning of the last century has basically been "That leader of [insert country here] is a son of a bitch, but at least he’s our son of a bitch." This did not serve well in Latin America, or southeast Asia, and it will not serve well in the Middle East. It’s time for new policy.

The terrorists and other countries are going to find out one of things that makes us great. America as a whole is like a huge family of bickering kids. Sometimes we fight, we take sides, many issues may divide us, while many of us only get involved actively when it directly impacts us. However, any outside force that dares to take us apart will soon feel the power of all 300 million of us, because when our nation is attacked in such a huge and impactful way, we forget our differences almost immediately and rally together.

Now is not the time for self-blame. It is a time for decisive action. When the main threat is over, we must, as a nation, take the time to reflect on what our future policies should be. We cannot espouse freedom, liberty, rights, etc. if we only mean that they should apply only to the US.

Shelley Hawthorne:
I respectfully disagree that we need to fix the "root" problem. Saying that we are at fault because of our foreign policy is like a battered woman thinking that if I would just not do ____ then he won't hit me. This is a defeatist attitude and is insupportable in the real world. Bombing Afghanistan is not a viable option. This will be a ground war with air support. Think D-day and Iwo Jima on a daily basis. After the Taliban and al-qaeda has been eliminated then we need to rebuild Afghanistan with our best civil engineers so that the Afghans will have a chance to have a govt of their choosing.

You say that the reason that these fanatics hate us has been too simplified; I say it is that simple. Yes, we need to insist that Isreal treat all its citizens equally but not because we were attacked but because that is the right thing to do. We have tried diplomacy for years now. The Taliban was presented with evidence of bin Laden's guilt in first attack on the WTC back in 93 and they rejected it. they were sent the evidence that led to his indictment inthe embassy bombings, again it was rejected.

Aproximately 7000 people are dead. What should we wait for before we retaliate? Nerve gas? Smallpox? We have been far too patient in the past, and we will be patient for a while longer as we follow the money and get the coalition built. They declared war on us; first verbally calling the jihad, and then physically with the attack on 9/11.

We should no longer worry about consequences, but let this minority of evil men reap their consequences.

Liz:
"The only way to stop terrorist attack is through treating the root causes - America's atttitude and actions towards the rest of the world. "

Maura, I must beg to differ, if you mean that American foreign policy is at the root of terrorism. I think America has become a focus for its expression, but you cannot say that we caused it. There is a dark side in human nature, and there are people who can gather it up and focus it.

Certainly, US policy has not always been wise or compassionate, sometimes stamping in with big boots where ballet is called for, however the current crop of social destroyers HATE us, and nothing that we do or say will change that. They don't want us to be like them, they want us to be gone. It is not reasonable and therefore cannot be changed by reasonable actions.

It seems to me that terrorism is the enemy of social stability. It's aim is destruction, whatever its rhetoric. Remember the anarchists? They had the notion that the world would be better off without goverment. Sound familiar? They tried to blow a way of life out of existence as well.

Americans are loud and brash people of good heart. I've always seen us as the adolescents of the world, full of optimism. And like a robust, enthusiastic adolescent, we are sure we are right and know what's best. 'Adult' countries think us pesky, galumphing, overgrown pups, though they might secretly admire our energy. We have been annoyingly successful, arousing some jealousy and not a little scorn for our attitude that the rest of the world can't possibly know as much as we do.

I think on September 11, we grew up quite a bit.

Sarah S:
I don’t want to say that my life has changed and gone in a 180-degree turn, but I suppose in many ways it has. I was a political science and history double major in college, 8 years ago. Since then, though my interest has not waned in these areas, my life has been full with getting married, buying a house, having a child, supporting my husbands business, working full time - you know, mundane things of everyday life.

I remember living through the first WTC bombing, I remember hearing about the Cole, Kenya bombings, Tanzania bombings, the WTC trials, the thwarted millennium bombings, the Rwandan war and the Somalian war. These were horrible acts, but yet, “only” 6 people were killing in the NYC bombing, the Cole was a military target, Kenya killed 5000 people but that is so far removed from my home, the African “wars” were sanctioned by the UN so why should I worry? (I do not mean to belittle these happenings at all, these are just my feelings at the time they happened.) It wasn’t until I saw the Discovery Channel and the BBC special that Laurie mentioned in this article, that it all sank in to me. My God, what has been going on in the world for the last 8 years while I was living life? I feel like I have just wakened up from a long sleep. That special really opened up my eyes to how people around the world see Americans, and how unlike it is how I see myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have traveled extensively around the world and knew that not too many people liked Americans. We tend to be loud, outspoken and brash, but I never saw us as imperialistic, people crushing bullies. Seeing how that special depicted bin Laden seeing Americans terrified me. Are we really just trying to move into the Middle East no matter what the cost to get a foothold there? Call me crazy, but I think 99% of Americans would rather we stay out of the rest of the worlds’ problems, but who else is there to step in and try to preserve the peace? Because believe me, I think we Americans see ourselves as preserving the peace not instigating wars. What good would wars do to us? They are terrible for business and hurt innocent people – two things Americans hate the most. Americans like stability and the ability to have economic prosperity unencumbered. If we could stay with in our shores and be isolationist, I think most Americans would prefer that. Unfortunately, we have been pushed into a position of power, more so now since this attack.

Maybe I am standing too high on my soap box here, but how could so many people in the rest of the world have such a different opinion of what American’s are then what we see ourselves? Are we deluding ourselves or do other people not understand us in the least? We are all people who want to be able to live our lives with out fear. To raise our children in an environment of safety. Call me naive, call me optimistic, but I hope some good has come out of this and the people of this world ban together to wipe out this fear and terrorism.

Sheryl:
"but how could so many people in the rest of the world have such a different opinion of what American’s are then what we see ourselves? Are we deluding ourselves or do other people not understand us in the least?"

I think there are two reasons they have such a different concept of us. First is that we see ourselves as ourselves - they see us as the actions of our government, which does dumb things ranging from supporting dictators to providing condoms and other birth control devices to a people who (a) don't believe in birth control and (b) REALLY need fundamental health supplies like bandages and such like and aren't impressed with our priorities.

But there's also the fact that a lot of other peoples don't understand us in the least. Much of what Laurie says about Americans is true - we argue and fight over trivia, but unite when it comes to important stuff. It wasn't until I lived in Korea for a while that I realized what being an American meant. Most of it I'd been intellectually aware of - melting pot, wealth, freedom, etc. - but I had no grasp of the day-to-day little things where Americans are so radically different.

Koreans know the minute they see you you're not Korean. When I sit on a bus in the U.S. and someone new gets on, I assume they're American unless and until they state otherwise. Doesn't matter their color or dress or physical appearance or even accent or language - I figure they're living here, they're probably American. Not so, most countries. In Korea, the minute a non-Korean gets on the bus, everyone knows. You are alien, in a way that immagrants to the US simply are not. I don't mean that aliens are treated badly - but they are outsiders, and they will remain outsiders even after living there for generations.

Other countries with many different nationalities living there are not united the way the US is. War hits, and everyone "retreats to their own people". In times of peace, the various ethnic groups may get along fine, even intermarry, but when things go bad then that's the end of that. Happened when Israel was formed. Happened in Croatia. Happens in African nations.

Americans are weird because we draw together AS A NATION, because we identify with Americans as "our own people," rather than with those we're descended from. Those of us who've been here long enough are pretty mongrel anyway, but even first and second generation Americans will identify with America first unless America has done something seriously awful in their homeland - and their definition of seriously awful is usually an American definition, so not likely to be the case.

That's the way it looks to me, anyhow. That and the fact that, particularly when discussing Afghanistan and the like, a lot of the people have no access to information that hasn't been vetted by their leaders, so of course their view of us is skewed!

Stacy:
I live and work in Manhattan and saw the first explosion on the news. Then the second. And despite the fact that my husband and I knew it was terrorism (What else could it have been?) we left the house and walked to work, together, as if it were a normal day.

My husband later told me that we were idiots and that if something like that ever happened again we would stick together. How could we have walked to work, looking at the burning towers in the sky, already grieving? I think in traumatic times you grasp hold of normality. You want everything to be ok, hoping it will be if you only act like it.

When I reached the office I was hoping to hear the latest news. This became more than "simple terrorism" when I learned that the Pentagon had been hit, that the Washington Mall was on fire. We had spotty Internet access, no TV, and no radio. The towers were burning less than 3 miles away and we only had the rumors that flew in via telephone.

"My sister says there's a bomb at Stuyvesant High."

"There are car bombs all along Canal."

"Ten more planes have been hijacked. One is circling the White House."

I was so shaky I forgot how to use my computer for a moment, as I tried to find phone numbers and call everyone I knew.

It felt like war. I was the only one of the few in my office living in Manhattan. (Nothing special, a tiny apartment over the Lincoln Tunnel.) My husband called to say he was headed home. I stayed to see if anyone needed a place to sleep. All the trains, tunnels, and bridges were closed; my co-workers had no way to get home.

We thought of the food available in the office. I mentally ran down the list of items purchased from the store last night in my own fridge. I had no idea how I would feed everyone or where they would sleep, but at least we would be together. Then the first tower collapsed. There was a quiet heaving and then everyone began to cry. Even the men. We ran outside where crowds gathered in the street, huddled around trucks with open doors, radios blaring. Smoke and the second tower on fire.

We didn't feel safe outside. We still had no information, no idea when, if, this would end. No idea when the Brooklyners would get to go home. "I wish I knew..." "I wonder what's happening..." Our urge to know propelled me to the electronics store across the street.

I bought a battery-operated transistor radio. (Who knew if we would have electricity?) And ran back to my office, dodging people gazing in awe, trying to avoid looking at the gaping hole to the south.

A woman near me gasped. I turned to find the antenna from Tower One sliding on an avalanche of concrete and steel. I screamed. Everyone in the street, hundreds of people began to moan and pray. Some fell on the ground in desperation.

Everyone knew someone in those towers.

With tears streaming down my face I entered the office. "The second tower fell," I said. And there was silence.

It is difficult to describe the power of the New York landscape. Every town, city, state has a sense of place. A smell, a bend, a tree, a building that lets you know you are THERE. The WTC was one of those places. As everything in life, mundane and ordinary until you see it at the right moment. At once a place of beauracracy and beauty.

And the people. Ah, God. The cooks, waitresses, secretaries, brokers, lovers, mothers, sisters. All of those people. Stuck. It still gives me chills.

We huddled around the radio, like in some 1940s movie reel, and waited for news to come in. Finally the bridges opened and my co-workers walked the 3, 4, 5 hour trips home.

I spent the afternoon assuring my husband, my parents, my sisters, cousins, aunts, and friends that I was fine. I fielded phone calls for hours. We expected more blasts, more attacks, more mayhem. And when they didn't come, that first night, I thought, "I'm ok. I'm not afraid."

That night I screamed with nightmares of flashes in the sky. My husband says I woke him with my terror, but I don't remember.

Since then the grief has ebbed and flowed. Some things still bring me to tears. Sitting in Central Park on Sunday I was thankful for the smell of wet dogs, the crying of babies, every acorn under the blanket, every dirt spot. Even with the fighter jets flying low and loud overhead.

My husband and I have always been vocal about our love. But now, it is practically a ritual. Every minute could be your last. This could be the last hug, the last kiss, the last walk with the dog, the last call to your mother. The terrorists have incited fear and hate, but also, powerful, powerful love. That's the silver lining I cling to.

Liz:
Stacy, your account is so heartwrenching.

It was horrible to see it on the news. I can't imagine being closer.

My sister witnessed it, too, from the rooftop of her office on 23rd street. Friends got caught in the chaos. I feel very lucky. None of my direct connections were lost. But like you said, we all know people. Long Island is very integrated into the life of Manhattan, the whole metropolitan area is. One person I haven't been able to track down lives in Battery Park city, so at the best she and her husband are homeless. Still no phones. I don't know what those people are doing!

: It is difficult to describe the power of the New York landscape. Every town, city, state has a sense of place. A smell, a bend, a tree, a building that lets you know you are THERE. The WTC was one of those places.

This really strikes a chord with me. Wasn't it beautiful? Really glorious. The week before, my family drove in to meet my sister and her husband for dinner, and it was evening, and beautifully September, and I pointed out to the kids, as I always do, the skyline of Manhattan. There's the place you can see midtown on the LIE, the whole thing if it's clear, then on the BQE you virtually drive beside it. And other great views, from the Whitestone Bridge on a clear day, or at night. Closer, from the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a human fist to the sky, in joy, in defiance, I don't know, a combination of those.

It was something wonderful. I don't mean to say that the human tragedy isn't paramount, but the fact of that empty space in the landscape is a tragedy, too.

"Every minute could be your last. This could be the last hug, the last kiss, the last walk with the dog, the last call to your mother. The terrorists have incited fear and hate, but also, powerful, powerful love. That's the silver lining I cling to."

Me, too.

Liz, hugging her kids

Deena:
I am also a former (you're never really a former) New Yorker. I have found it especially difficult.. I walked those streets, rode the suybway,visited the WTC as a returning tourist. I live near D.C. and Arlington VA. I live in PA... Lord, I am close physically and emotionally to every place that was attacked. I was so proud of those passengers on the plane that crashed in PA. Even before we received confirmation that they had taken action to divert the plane, I told my husband,"I KNOW that the passengers joined together and crashed the plane." And that is the difference... our people sacrificed their lives so that others would LIVE....those creatures looked into the eyes of little children, babies, women and judged them unworthy to live. I cannot conceive of a human being being able to do that....I find that the strangest things make me cry. TV commercials with NY cabbies, the ad about Cotton - the fabric of our lives...heck, the Miss America pageant last night with each contestant stating something they found to be proud of in their state... thanks heavens for forums like this

Karen W:
First of all, I want to thank LLB for giving us a forum like this to share our thoughts. Oh, God...Where to begin? I'm from New York -- was born and raised on Long Island -- and my mom was born & raised in NYC. I still have friends and family who live and work there. I have always spent a lot of time in NYC and always considered it the "greatest city in the world," so the tragedy "hit home" for me in many ways.

I was actually sleeping when the whole thing happened (I work late and sleep late), and I truly woke up to find that the world had changed. I saw that my mother had called 12 times while I was sleeping but didn't leave a message, so terrified, I called her. I was still half asleep while I listened to hear screaming and sobbing, telling me that America was being attacked, planes were hijaked and crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon, the Twin Towers had come down, our borders were closed, etc. I just didn't sound real then, and it still doesn't now, actually. I kept saying that it sounded like the plot of a bad science fiction movie, and I wish that that was all it was!

It has been very hard to work, get back into normal routines. I can't seem to stop crying, and even though I know I should turn off the TV, I keep being drawn to it to somehow try to make some sense out of something that never will. I think I need some quiet time to mourn & sort out my feelings, but it's always hard to find that time. The world just doesn't "feel" the same to me anymore.

My deepest respect and admiration to all the rescue workers of all kinds and all the volunteers, and deepest sympathies to the victims and their friends and families. The one bright spot in all of this has been seeing the country -- and the world -- unite in a way I had never dared hope I'd see in my lifetime. I hope we can keep it up.

I talked to a woman today who lost her nephew. He was an EMT and was killed trying to save lives when the Towers fell. He was young, and an only child and an only grandchild. I had goosebumps as I listened to her cry, and beyond saying how sorry I was for her loss, I just didn't know what to say. There truly are no words...

Jennifer:
I was at work, about 1/2 mile or so up the road from the Pentagon. We had just saw the news on CNN about the first plane going into WTC and a second plane and realized it was not accidental. We were trying to figure out if there was something special about September 11th. (Still not sure unless there's some special date in the Islamic calendar.)

Then our secretary came in and said a plane went into the Pentagon. A big plane. And then we heard there was a bomb at another federal building (this turned out to be false). Boss told us to go home. My e-mail was still working so I e-mailed my sister and asked her to call my parents to let them know I was okay. (I knew that I wouldn't be able to get through on the phones, nor did I want to tie up the phones when the emergency personnel might need them.)

So I got to my car and drove up to the entrance to our parking lot, and just as I got ready to pull out, there was another small explosion (I guess fuel from the Pentagon attack...) and I was signaled to pull out of our parking lot as fast as possible. I turned and floored the gas. Then spent the next hour or so trying to get home. I was shaking and looking worriedly at anything remotely strange happening on the roads as I drove home.

I was lucky. I got home ahead of just above everyone else who worked downtown or inside the Beltway.

I was doubly lucky. 13-15 years ago, I worked in that section of the Pentagon where that plane went in. Also, no one I knew was a casualty. Some of my co-workers weren't as lucky...they knew folk who died in the attack.

Vivien:
As a European, I did not find the article offensive at all. It gave me a lot of food for thought, although I might not agree with everything being said.

There were two remarks in the article I object to: One is about the fact that countries like Germany and France presumably "allowed" terrorists to live within their borders. No terrorist was ever allowed to live openly in a democratic nation. They lived there as students, completely unobtrusive and peaceful citizens. Nobody could tell just by looking at them that they were terrorists! If it were that easy, all those innocent people would not be harassed right now only because they are Muslim or look foreign to western eyes.

My other objection concerns the supposed lack of a national memory in European nations, the inability to see our own shortcomings. This comment surprises me immensely because I actually think if countries in the world are aware of their flaws and their screwed-up past, it is countries like Germany, Austria, France or Spain. I mean, it already begins at school, where history lessons are always about international history, starting with the Stone Ages, going to Rome and Greece, the Middle Ages, up to the present day. Young people get to know the world's history, and their awareness of their own nation's failures is automatically raised. Political speeches practically never forget to mention the World Wars in some part. Media discussions often revolve around the past, especially WWII. This criticism of our past goes so far that in most European nations, there is not a very pronounced patriotism, but rather a certain diffidence to be proud of one's country and therefore also a hesitancy to meddle in international affairs. I think we are by far not as self-confident as the US, but if you take the European nations as a whole, you will find that we are all just as peace-loving and democratic as the US. We just don't broadcast it around the world all the time. And I think we are very, very aware of and honest about our past mistakes. It really astonishes me how this could not come across on an international level.

Isn't this just another kind of prejudice? To say that other nations are not honest and are not ready to fight for their freedom? Just as it is a prejudice to say Americans are brash and meddlesome and loud. If people say this, however, it does not mean that they "hate" America. It is a common cliché that might be partly truthful, but is not universally correct, just as it is a cliché that Spaniards are hot lovers or Brits stiff-lipped. It is a normal way to make sense of other nations, which we sometimes don't quite understand. I think it is wrong to establish a dichotomy America versus the world now, and to ask questions like "Why does everybody hate us?" Those who hate America are those that hate all western, democratic, capitalist nations. The WTC was a symbol of New York, but is was not without reason called the World Trade Center. It was a symbol of western economy as a whole, and one must not forget that about 1000 people from other nations died there, as well.

If you have seen pictures of the whole world mourning the dead and being shocked about the attacks, if you know that all over the world, festive events have been cancelled and minutes of silence held, if you know that there were many church services to commemorate the dead and that everyone had sleepless nights and cried bitter tears, you will no longer be able to say that the world hates America. So please don't make the mistake of polarizing the world now. America should not try to control and defeat terrorism single-handedly. Bush managed to avoid choosing this way in his speech, which every European leader congratulated him on, but it sometimes seems as if the American government were still reluctant to cooperate on a larger scale. Yet I think this is the only solution. Countries must exchange information, they must build a network against terrorism, they must simply work together more than they have in the past. All of this is not only about America, it is about democracy and freedom, which all of us here are striving for and love.

LLB:
Thanks for your remarks. I have no doubt that many in Europe have good memories, but I don't think it's universal. I've read many articles about the French, for instance, which say they have never fully come to terms with the actions of the Vichy government.

The other aspect of my comments in this area relate to the Marshall Plan and how very much the United States was involved in the rebuilding of nations effected by WWII. We not only contributed mightily to our allies, but to the Axis power countries as well. It's not that I believe the rest of the world is ungrateful, but many of the freedoms and things enjoyed in the rest of the world were partially paid for by the US in the aftermath of WWII. It's some of that which I feel has been forgotten by others. And it's some of that which rankles when I read an article in Le Monde that said some were whistling during the moments of silence. Again, I realize that behavior is not universal, but it hurts nonetheless.

I thought about adding a paragraph or two to the editorial about how perhaps it might not only help Americans understand others around the world, but how it also might help others around the world understand Americans. Though we've botched up certain policies, we do think of ourselves as the democratic experiment that helped other nations become democratic themselves. We also do think of ourselves as saviors of freedom around the world. During the Cold War, that meant propping up any government that wasn't communist, and that wasn't always the smart choice. But think back to 1965 when the tanks rolled in to Czechoslavakia - we felt it was our duty to prevent that elsewhere.

Remember as well that until two weeks ago, NATO's true purpose was more likely to have been to protect a European nation and not the US. It's somewhat ironic that the first time Article 5 was invoked, it's to help the US.

I hope I've not furthered any divisiveness but have given perhaps a better explanation. Having more time to think about it, and to be able to hear from more of our European readers is helpful. If what comes out of this editorial from the editorial itself and the responses to this MB is increased understanding throughout the online romance community, I'll have done my job. If, on the other hand, I've simply made Americans obnoxiously patriotic and those outside the US feel left out and misunderstood, I'll have failed.

One last thing - I agree w/you that the world needs to unite against terrorism. The US, however, has had a problem w/isolationism for what seems like forever, even though it was Wilson's idea to start the League of Nations and even though the UN got its start in the US. What has happened in recent years in the UN, however, has not helped the US's isolationism, and it's likely why certain US senators have held up our paying our UN dues (even though you could probably say aid given to the world's nations since WWII cover them). We've been able to afford our isolationism because the threat faced by other nations in the world was always an ocean away. Well, it isn't any longer, and we're going to have to change our perceptions.

cwicklund:
"If you have seen pictures of the whole world mourning the dead and being shocked about the attacks, if you know that all over the world, festive events have been cancelled and minutes of silence held, if you know that there were many church services to commemorate the dead and that everyone had sleepless nights and cried bitter tears, you will no longer be able to say that the world hates America."

I watched the 2-hour special presented last night by some of Hollywood's most famous, and the most moving moment for me, brought tears to my eyes, was the segment that showed the grief and outpouring of sympathy from countries around the world. I felt a little like a shocked and pathetically grateful Sally Field many years ago at the Oscars, "You like me, you really like me . . ."

LLB:
Our family watched the telethon as well. Parts of it were amazingly moving. Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keyes, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, even Celine Dion!, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams - I know I'm missing a lot.

It was very tasteful and understated, which was better than what I had expected. I was afraid it would have been like the Labor Day MD Telethon Jerry Lewis does every year.

I think they ought to put it on video and DVD and sell it, w/all profits going to the same charity.

Karen W:
I taped the special but have the feeling it will be sold to make money -- at least I hope so. For me, the highlight was Billy Joel singing "New York State of Mind" with a firefighters hat sitting on his piano and Neil Young singing "Imagine" -- I was hoping someone would do that song.

LLB: I agree on all counts. Had I thought about it in advance, I would have taped it too but hope it is for sale to raise even more money. Everyone I know has sent money - even money they don't really have - and when we went to our High Holy Day services this past week, we saw a Hall of Prayer all the Sunday School classes had created. It was inspiring. One of the most moving moments was Muhammad Ali's speech reminding Americans that the aim of Islam is peace. I heard Rosie O'Donnell say in a news blurb that "entry to the telethon should be $1 million per entertainer." That's apparently what she's donated. Last night the NY baseball team that had its first home game back in NY since the attacks donated their salaries for the game. Finally, Ben Stein has a series of articles on eonline.com that provide his own unique perspective on things. Although politically he and I could not be further apart on most things, one snippet I found profounding touching was this: "I learned today that on the plane from Dulles were a group of African-American elementary schoolkids on a field trip. The killers used them as live weight to be slaughtered. Let's remember it when the fanatics claim to be against racism."

cwicklund:
"I learned today that on the plane from Dulles were a group of African-American elementary schoolkids on a field trip. The killers used them as live weight to be slaughtered. Let's remember it when the fanatics claim to be against racism."

That's the first I've heard of this. I did not think I could possibly shed another tear. I was wrong.

LynnO:
I think that on cnn's website yesterday or today, or it was the denver post, sorry none of these are available right now, there was an article talking about members of el qada (?) living legally in the US. They came legally, and no one knows why they were here! Well, I'm pretty sure we know why now. I'm not trying to stir up any trouble, just put all of this into some perspective. In free societies, people are allowed to live freely unless someone can prove they are doing something illegal. I think that might change now.

Anyhow, I have been EXTREMELY touched by the moments of silence around the world. Sadly, I'm not sure we would (the us) have done the same.

LLB:
Earlier today I shared a link w/AAR staff that I visited this week in preparation for my editorial. I know that any media put out by a group that is working for political change is going to include propaganda, but think it's still very worthwhile to check things out.

The site I'm going to share the link for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) - http://rawasongs.fancymarketing.net/index.html.

abcnews.com also has some articles on the Taliban that are of interest - it was one of them I used, in part, when listing some of the strictures against women.

It's hard to imagine any culture not allowing a woman's voice to literally be heard, or for allowing a woman to be stoned if she leaves her house w/out a male relative. What was most frightening about articles I read on the RAWA site is what men seem to get away w/in the name of the Taliban, including gang rape. I don't want to get all religious and political here - everyone knows those are the two "unsafe" topics never to broach, but take a look at the site and see what I found.

One of our reviewers took a look over at the RAWA site and was horrified, particularly since she was being careful not to judge a fundamentalist religion without knowledge of the facts - after all, the Amish don't watch television or wear brightly colored clothes either. She is right, of course, and she is right about something else. I watched an interview with a very religious Muslim family today that lives in the US. They consider themselves "fundamentalists" because they don't drink or gamble, among other things. Islam, as they so poignantly reminded, does not mean what some have perverted it to mean.

Stacy:
The Taliban's restrictions on women were horrifying to me before the WTC attacks. Reading of these women's plights made me feel extremely lucky to live in a country that allows women knowledge and power. But it also brought home to me the vulnerabilities of women in this country and around the world.

It was only 80 years ago that women in the US gained the right to vote. Even in the 50s and 60s women could not apply for loans or credit without the signature of their father or husband (I'm taking that from personal accounts, so please correct me if I'm wrong.) I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian network, though I do not follow those strictures today, and I can honestly say that I know many people who believe women should, literally, be seen and not heard.

Coming from a background in anthropology, it is very difficult for me to become offended or upset by any cultural differences. Half of me feels that everyone deserves to live in the culture of their choice. But the other half of me wishes to be one of those ground warriors in Afghanistan, killing the Taliban militia.

It is a relief to know women can, are, fight(ing) these ideas and strictures. Thank you for this link.

LLB:
Just yesterday I had a conversation w/my daughter, who is already picking up some misinformation about the history of the treatment of women. I had to tell her that until less than a hundred years ago, women in the US didn't have the right to vote, and that for most of the world's history, women have been considered the property of men - either their fathers, husbands, or brothers.

LLB:
There is a very interesting set of links for the current Sunday London Times. Start with http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/09/23/stiusausa01024.html and continue through several articles, including a fascinating one comparing the Khymer Rouge to the Taliban.

Not all the articles are as pro-American as the first one, but if you are looking for lots of good information in one place, this is a good place.

Mariel:
Watch CNN for "Beneath the Veil"
It's not for the faint of heart, and small children should not watch it. It's basically an undercover documentary made by a female British journalist of Afghan descent. I believe it was filmed in 1997 or 1998.

My aunt was an ambassador to the UN before she retired in 1999. I remember that when the UN had their congress on women in Beijing she got tons of reports etc in preperation. This is not something new. I saw all sorts of reports which state many horrors (and not just against women, but men and children also) both in Afghanistan and many other nations.

As a Muslim friend of mine said to me years ago "Even us ordinary Muslims think those types are crazy".

LLB:
I had the chance to watch this documentary and was absolutely horrified. It's one thing to read about these atrocities, but to see them w/your very own eyes is something else. It reminded me of nothing else than what the Khymer Rouge did in Cambodia. Public executions in a football stadium paid for w/international funds. According to an official Taliban minister in Pakistan, "If the international community will give us money to build a new place for public executions, they can play football here." They showed women being shot and massacres of men in villages where the Taliban had been. The same minister said all her footage was doctored and these atrocities were not taking place. The documentary ended in the village her father said she was born - what used to be formal and beautiful gardens. Her closing words were, "anything that was creating by humans is gone."

How could human beings commit such atrocities? Every time something like this is discovered by the world as a whole, we say, "never again." And yet it keeps on happening.... Here, by the way, is an article/editorial from The Economist.

Whatever its mistakes, the idea that America brought the onslaught upon itself is absurd

WHO is to blame? The simple answer—the suicide attackers, and those behind them—is hardly adequate, just as it would hardly be adequate simply to blame Hitler and his henchmen for the second world war, without mentioning the Treaty of Versailles or Weimar inflation. But that does not exculpate the perpetrators of last week's onslaught, just as the Versailles treaty does not excuse Auschwitz: whatever their grievances, nothing could excuse an attack of such ferocity and size. So what explains it? A surprising number of people, and not just gullible fanatics looking for someone to hold responsible for the hopelessness of their lives, believe that to a greater or lesser extent America has reaped as it sowed.

If this charge is to be taken at all seriously, it must first be separated from the general anti-Americanism fashionable in some left-wing circles in Europe, say, or even Latin America. It may be reasonable to dislike the death penalty, a society so ready to tolerate guns, even the vigour of a culture that finds its expression in unpretentious movies and McDonald's hamburgers, but none of these could conceivably explain, let alone justify, a single act of terrorism. Similarly, though globalisation clearly arouses fury among protesters, and concern among some more moderate critics, it would be ridiculous to think that last week's attack was prompted by any American antipathy towards welfare payments, closed economies or restraints on speculative capital movements.

The charge that in politics the United States is arrogant, even hypocritical, may deserve more notice. America has recently brushed aside some good international agreements (on nuclear testing, for example, a world criminal court, land mines), as well as dismissing some bad ones (the Kyoto convention on global warming) with an insouciance unbecoming to the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases. Its understandable determination to pursue a missile shield threatens to upend the system of deterrence and arms control that has so far saved the world from nuclear Armageddon. It has refused to pay its dues to the United Nations, even as it has cut its aid for the world's poorest. Its eagerness to prosecute African and Balkan war criminals while refusing to allow its own nationals to submit to an international court has made it seem unwilling to hold itself to the standards it imposes on others.

Were these actions unwise? Possibly. Have they caused resentment? Yes. But could that resentment plausibly have motivated a single one of last week's suicide attackers? No.

The seeds of discord

Perhaps it would be more profitable to look deeper into the past. During the half-century of the cold war, the United States undoubtedly subordinated principles as well as causes to the overriding concern of defeating communism. The great upholder of laws at home was happy to trash them abroad, whether invading Grenada or mining Nicaraguan harbours. It propped up caudillos in Latin America, backed tyrants in Africa and Asia, promoted coups in the Middle East. More recently, it has been willing to kick invaders out of Kuwait, to strike at ruthless states like Libya and Iraq and, moreover, to go on trying to contain them with sanctions and, in Iraq's case, with almost incessant bombardment. Is it here perhaps—especially in the Middle East—that America has gone wrong?

No. The Economist has not been an uncritical supporter of American policy in the Middle East. We have been more ready to argue the Palestinian case than have recent administrations and believe that the United States could sometimes have done more to restrain Israel. We have also pointed out that the policy of sanctions against Iraq, whatever its intention, in practice punishes innocent Iraqis and thus allows Saddam Hussein to blame the West, notably America, for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. Perhaps nothing does more to fuel anti-American resentment in the Arab world. Such criticisms as we have made, however, in no way imply that we think America was wrong to fight the Gulf war or to try to disarm Saddam afterwards. It was also right to stand by Saudi Arabia as an ally, however much that annoyed zealots. Similarly, whatever Israel's mistakes, America can hardly be accused of having failed to try to bring it to a peace: every administration of recent years has attempted to bring the two sides together, and none has come closer than Bill Clinton's last year.

America defends its interests, sometimes skilfully, sometimes clumsily, just as other countries do. Since power, like nature, abhors a vacuum, it steps into places where disorder reigns. On the whole, it should do so more, not less, often. Of all the great powers in history, it is probably the least territorial, the most idealistic. Muslims in particular should note that the armed interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, both led by America, were attacks on Christian regimes in support of Muslim victims. In neither did the United States stand to make any material gain; in neither were its vital interests, conventionally defined, at stake. Those who criticise America's leadership of the world's capitalist system—a far from perfect affair—should remember that it has brought more wealth and better living standards to more people than any other in history. And those who regret America's triumph in the cold war should stop to think how the world would look if the Soviet Union had won. America's policies may have earned it enemies. But in truth, it is difficult to find plausible explanations for the virulence of last week's attacks, except in the envy, hatred and moral confusion of those who plotted and perpetrated them.



Anu439:
I've been appalled at the blatantly propagandist tenor of the reporting--I find myself wondering when the government nationalized our media. Many times, I kept feeling like they were not addressing issues so much as participating and creating the national grief.

This in no way means that the victims' stories shouldn't have been told, I definitely think they should be and I'm glad that they are. Their stories NEED to be told both for them and for the rest of the nation and the world. I don't think the immensity and the horror of what happened really hit me til I heard the stories from the families, children, and really heartbreaking for me, the stories of the rescue workers from their own families and co-workers. So I really believe the victims should be heard.

But things are--and were from the very start--moving rapidly, politically (both international and domestic), and sometimes, I felt those very important issues were being glossed over in favor of showing more grieving families. I didn't feel like our media was giving the whole picture of what was happening and why, it felt it a very incomplete picture we were/are being given. I'm not even bothering with most of the domestic media outlets now. Except for Nightline, NPR and sometimes the McNeil-Lehrer (sp?) Newshour, I'm going to other media like BBC, and the Economist, where I get a much more well-rounded picture of geopolitical and political interests, problems, and--something sadly underreported here--the back history of various political and international relations. I'm not saying our media doesn't present truth because they do--from one side. I believe the media's responsibility is to present all sides of an issue so we (the public) can decide what we believe based on as full an understanding of an issue as we can get. Maybe it's totally idealistic and naive of me, but I thought that's what they're supposed to do.

For example, this whole thing has gotten me very interested in Western-MidEast-Israeli relations--I'm separating this issue from the terrorists attacks btw. I haven't gotten a good picture of things from the American media--a few statements backed by little attempts to really explain it. Somewhere in it is always the remark "It's very complicated...difficult to understand/explain" or something to that effect like an excuse for bad journalism. I go to the BBC or elsewhere and get much more of an understanding. I just want information from as many sides as possible, not even so much to form an opinion on who's right and wrong or who's noble or not but to UNDERSTAND how and why things came to be as they are there. I just want to know what's going on!

I dunno know, I've had my problems with the media (here) before, but I feel like this situation has opened my eyes to really serious flaws it has with just plain reporting things instead packaging everything with slick slogans. As I read somewhere, even our grief has been turned into a sensational media event. I totally dig what the article's author said in reference to Christiane Amanpour, about simply be a reporter vs. propagandist.

Ok, I'm off my rant. I'm sorry to have rambled, I'm not sure I made much sense, and I'm very sorry if I offended anyone. Just needed to let it out:))

LLB:
I've also gotten a lot of good information from the BBC, The Economist, and some other non-US publications, but I think what we're seeing w/that is the same thing we would see if an event had happened inside Great Britain and we were reporting it. Outsiders can often look inside and see the big picture while those on the inside can't. Both perspectives, though, are useful and necessary, and it doesn't mean that either is 100% right or 100% wrong.

Anu439:
Oh, I agree, I'm not saying either is 100% right or wrong. It's a matter of where I'm getting the most information from various perspectives. I don't feel I'm getting a full picture from much of the mainstream American media, whereas I can count on some of the more international media to give me a better idea of the hows and whys and whats of the situation.

Also, because this did happen in the U.S., I guess I did expect much more than I'm getting. While we're getting inundated with grieving-family stories--which are important--matters are moving quickly in the political arena, both domestically and internationally--all of it based on what's happened in the past. And, we are spearheading and initiating all this stuff, most of the manuvoerings going on right now have to do with us in one way or another. So, as I said, I expected more, and I'm disappointed in the coverage.

I am, of course, shamelessly generalizing the media, because not all of it is bad, and I know that even the ones I didn't like had at least some very good stories. I'm just expressing my overall frustration and disappointment, iow, I just needed to vent.

Liz:
I think it's all interesting, and I think it is a mistake to be cynical in the face of people's genuine pain. I, personally, have no inclination whatsoever to bomb Afghanistan, and give the feelings I am currently experiencing to anyone else, especially to those who have already suffered so much. However, no matter what we have done in that area, good and bad and monstrous, it does not justify the death of innocent people in this country, nor would I rejoice, or have I ever rejoiced in the death of others who are just trying to live their lives and achieve the same basic things that I want for myself and my family. Safety. Accomplishment. Love. Goodness.

It is non-productive to blame the victim, in any circumstance. That doesn't mean one doesn't strive to learn from one's mistakes, prevent harm from recurring, or striving to understand how something came to be. Use adversity to make oneself stronger and more compassionate. Act towards what is evil with righteousness, not vengeance. Evil must be confronted and thwarted.

And it is not so relative as our times might have us believe. Evil hides behind many things. Let's not help it by blaming ourselves for the actions of those that hate us.

Come on. Plenty of people resent us who don't fly planes into buildings and murder the innocent. If we can talk to those who can listen, wonderful. If we can understand and help, wonderful. If we can learn to listen, and accept. Good.

But let us not pretend that evil isn't just sitting back and using the honest frustrations of people in distress and turning it into darker matter for its own joyful cause of destruction.

Mariel:
Some books to read:

  • Fiction - Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood
    Tells the story of an Egyptian Islamic family concentrating on two sisters. I didn't believe a lot of what was in it until it was confirmed to me by two Egyptian women.

  • Non-fiction -
    Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. The movie of the same title starring Sally Field was based on this. Tells the true story of an American woman who married an Iranian man. At his request they went to Iran in the middle of the revolution for what was supposed to be a two week vacation, but turned into a several year ordeal from which she finally escaped.

    Do They hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja. True story of a young woman from Togo who escaped from her country when her father died. Her parents never believed in FGM but after her father died her uncle arranged a marriage with a much older man and insisted that she have it done. She escaped with nothing but the clothes on her back and ended up seeking aslylum in the US.



Sue Winburn:
As an Australian waking up on the morning of Wednesday September 12 to the sounds of the radio, I was horrified, I ran to find the remote to turn on the TV, called my sister for her to do the same. We both realized with a weird kind of guilt that we had, because of time zone differences, slept through the live horror. But to watch it over & over again was just as awful, unbelievable, unforgetable.

I called all my American friends straight away, I have lived in the states twice. All were well, but understandly upset.

Our Prime Minister John Howard, happened to be in Washington DC when the WTCs and the Pentagon were hit, in fact he was at the Pentagon only the day before visiting, he was distressed when we saw him then on TV and he was when he came home. He was at the many services that were held around Australia in memory of those killed on September 11, including the 94 Australians.

As an Australian who has travelled the world, I am blinded emotionally by the hate that someone could justify such an unspeakable act. Others on this message board have said the terrorists were attacking western culture as a whole, I agree. Yes the planes were in the USA and the suffering and shock were at its height there, but its Western culture that these people seem to hate so much.

I think it is important to understand why they hate us so much. Only then when we understand, can those who did what they did know that what we all stand for is freedom - in all the sense of the word, to love freely, to worship God where ever or however you wish, to kiss your loved ones goodbye in the morning and know you will come home to them that same night, to read, to laugh, to walk, to speak and to edify, to be proud to be Australian as well as proud to know you have American friends, who for all there brashness, are the good guys, and the world needs good guys to stand up to the bad guys. Australians sent peace forces to East Timor a few years ago. We know about fighting for peace not just war. I hope that is what this fight about terrorism is about, not war, but so there will be peace.

Iz:
Another Theory on the BIG DAY.
ISRAEL ATTACKED AMERICA!!!

As shocking as it may sound, the above stated statement is true! CNN and other Media networks bombard us with facts that are carefully sandwiched between conclusions. Since an average viewer does not have the ability to constantly separate facts from conclusions, there comes a time when he begins to consume the entire discourse as a fact. This is something Noam Chomsky called "manufacturing consent." To pin-point who is behind the bombing, one must separate the facts in the news, from the conclusions that are being drawn by analysts.

Try asking yourself these questions ?

· Who would like to bomb USA?

United States is one country that has a very long list enemies, so this question does not help us in pin pointing the attacker.

· Who has the capacity to do it?

Out of very this very long list of enemies, there are very few who are capable of planning an executing an action on such a large scale with this kind of success.

The sheer scale of the attack rules out the possibility of this action being carried out "freelance militants" (like Bin Laden) and independent militant organizations (like Islamic Jihad and Hamas). The world has seen the capacity in which these organizations and these individuals operate and it is nothing even close to what we are witnessing in New York and Washington. Usama bin Laden attacked USS Cole. Sinking a destroyer requires planning and resources that were not within the capacity of this man. He was able to blast a hole through the ship but could not sink it. It doesn't not make sense to conclude that one man, who could not sink a destroyer, will succeed in destroying two large buildings in the heart of New York, successfully hijack at least four aircrafts and bomb highest military office in United States, cause a nationwide breakdown and make United States President go into hiding.

Similar conclusion can be drawn of other "independent" militant

organizations. It is true that some extremist militant organizations in Middle East would like to see this happen but we must keep in mind that these organization hate Israel more than they hate United States. If they could do something of this level they would have done it to Israel first. Militant attacks against Israel have so far been a few suicide bombings, most of whom in which the death toll could never exceed 100. These organizations, that failed to kill a hundred people (or even close to that figure) in Israel, would be able to deliver such a devastating blow to a super power, miles away, in another continent. The only logical conclusion is that the action was carried out by a"nation state" that has a history of conducting very complicated, undercover operations.

· No one has claimed responsibility for it Politically motivated violence is different from general crime because in the former, the perpetrator publicly admits that he was responsible for the act. It is in his interest to claim responsibility for his action because acts of violence are basically intended to send a warning or a message to the enemy. In the absence of this warning or the message, the cause of the attack itself is defeated. When an act of politically motivated violence is followed by silence and no one steps forward to claim responsibility then we should understand that something is wrong. Things are not what they appear to be. This was the case in WTC bombing. All of United States traditional enemies, who have in past claimed responsibility for their attacks on their enemies have Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Talibaan Usama bin Laden, all of denied and condemned the attack. Furthermore we should notice that in the News so far, no evidence has been publicly revealed that would point out that the attacks were carried out by Usama bin Laden. All we are told is that "experts" believe that Usama bin Laden is responsible. One should ask, that in the absence of any solid evidence, how can these "experts" come to such a conclusion.

· Who will benefit from it?

So far the only party that seems to be benefiting from the present scenario is Israel. It was the term "Islamic terrorism" that gave Israel legitimacy in her war against Palestinians. In the last few years a series of incidents took place that diluted the "psychological impact" of the term. First, photographs of children getting killed in Middle East by Israeli troops gave this country a strong negative image. Secondly, the recent withdrawal of Israel from the International Racism Conference further damaged its world wide image. In the light of these incidents, something was needed to revive the meaning of the term "Islamic Terrorism", the term that has given Israel the only legitimacy in their war.

HOW CAN EHUD BARAK APPEAR IN THE BBC OFFICE JUST MINUTES AFTER THE FINAL BOMBING WITH A PRE-PREPARED INTERVIEW???

The bombings took the world by surprise. Military officials, Government figures, leaders of foreign states all appeared on television and were clearly in a state of shock. Taliban could not arrange an English speaking person on such a short notice, to appear for their interview on CNN. While the whole world was stunned former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak appeared from BBCs main office in London with e pre written/ pre prepared speech. He pentt 30 minutes speaking about how dangerous some "Islamic" countries and terrorists are. At the end of the interview, the news reporter stated that Mr. Barak joined him an hour before it was broadcasted, meaning Barak was there even an hour earlier. In real time of events this means he was there within minutes of the blast, with a pre-written interview. He knew beforehand that the bombings will take place. It was not difficult to see that Barak came with a pre written speech as he is quick to pint out all of Israels enemies which he calls "rogue states". The answers to the interview were carefully prepared to use public sentiments created by the blast, against enemies of Israel. These could not have been developed between the time bombing took place and Barak appeared on BBC. Barak's presence in UK could also not have been co-incidental at that crucial time.

SEE HOW THIS FITS INTO THE FLOW OF WORLD EVENTS

Palestinian and Israeli clashes were seen all over the world as mass oppression of an ethnic community by a militarized state.

Israel's recent withdrawal from International Conference on Racism was a severe dent to its international image. After this withdrawal andincidents of violence in the Middle East, a diversion was needed, that would notjust divert public attention from Middle Eastern to another continent but also revive the meaning the term, "Islamic Terrorism". Furthermore, it would pull a super power in a direct conflict against Israel's traditional enemies. Mossad, Israeli intelligence has very carefully executed this operation to discredit its enemies on a global level but in the process it made a very crucial mistake. They did everything too perfectly! We wont get to hear this side of the story in the Western Media because media industry in the West is in the hands of Jews who have strong sympathies for the state of Israel. May Allah give us the wisdom to see the truth and the courage to act on it when we see it!

"We live in a society where almost everything we see hear and read is monitored by those who control the media. Before we confront our problems effectively, we must understand that someone, or some group is manipulating our reality. We must free ourselves from their control and discover the truth."

THIS IS A TRAP FOR THE MUSLIMS, PLEASE DON't Fall FOR IT...

BE UNITED!!! AND SPREAD THIS WORD...DON't TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THIS BARBARIC ACT...!

PEACE

Iz:
Asalaamo alaykum to my muslim brothers and sisters and peace to the christains and other faiths, I'm not sure who wrote this but it has some VERY INTERESTING things to think about!!! PLEASE read this- I already sent a copy of this to the people at CNN- and would like all of you to have a read.

The letter is as follows:

Many MUSLIMS lost their lives that day. My heart and prayers go out to everyone who lost their loved ones because of this tragedy. Right after the "ATTACK ON AMERICA" happened, the media deliberately started projecting that this heinous crime was perpetrated and committed by the MUSLIMS namely (Osama Bin Laden). Also, that Muslims in America and all around the world are the culprits and are responsible for this in-humane act of terror.

Q. Were these high-jackers MUSLIMS? If yes, what kind of Muslims?

A. Not very good and TRUE Muslims. There is a good reason why I believe that (if and only if they were Muslims, they were not good and true Muslims.

So, WHO IS BEHIND ALL OF THIS?

Let me give you the following reasons and hints to who is behind this tragedy:

1. Who controls the media in America? And isn't this true that most of the ordinary and average people like us believe whatever we SEE, HEAR, and READ thru media.

2. Why didn't the high-jackers (if Muslims as projected) care about over 3000 good Muslims who worked in the twin towers on a daily basis? If their motive was to bring these buildings down, they could have done that over the weekend or at nighttime when very few people are in the buildings. WHY DO THIS IN THE MORNING HOURS? Everyone watching, in real time on TV's all around America.

3. Who was that gentleman on the street at about 9:08 a.m. with a cam-coder in his hands making the video, which captured and recorded the incident of the first plane hitting the tower? HOW come he was there at the right place, at the right time? MEDIA Involvement, planned out act of terror, and again WHO controls the media?

Chain of the events happened in U.S. gradually, momentarily, and step by step. Moments after the attack and collapse of the WTC, media showed PALASTANIAN kids and one female in HIJAB (symbols of Muslim women) clapping, singing, and celebrating. Different TV channels reported to the American viewers that Palestinians are happy and loving American loss while the entire America is mourning this tragedy. MY Q? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKES TO GATHER HUNGRY AND ABANDONED BUNCH OF KIDS TO CLAP, SING, AND JUMP UP AND DOWN in front of the camera IN PALESTINE. DID ANYONE NOTICE THE TIME ZONE; IT WAS MORNING HERE AND SAME DAYLIGHT TIME IN PALESTINE (VERY INTERESTING).

4. FBI and FEMA reported that one of the suspects Mr. Mohamed Atta and others were on the list for most wanted in CAR and BUS bombings in Israel. At one time the Israeli army captured this person and few years later he was released by them. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HE WAS IN ISRAELI JAIL?

BRAIN WASHED**FUNDED AND HARBORD**FORCED**SET UP**PAYED OFF IN MIGHTY $ $ $ $.

My Q? How in the world Mr. M. ATTA and his associates come inside the U.S. borders, lived on the U.S. soil, received training to fly planes openly when he was on the FBI wanted list, without the protection, umbrella, and a free ticket by someone very POWERFUL in U.S. to roam around without any problem.

5. FBI received a tip from a passenger who boarded a different plan and reached his destination safely that he had a confrontation with two Middle Eastern gentlemen at the Logan airport in Boston, MA. He gave them the exact location of their stranded car parked in the lot, where FBI found the (MANUEL ON HOW TO FLY A PLANE) in ARABIC language. Also, they found the information leading to the rental car and credit card information with which the 2 plane tickets were purchased from Boston to L.A. My Q? People capable of plotting and executing such a sophisticated plan would leave the ARABIC language manual and other information in the rental car to be found later by the FBI. HOW DUMB is that BY PROFESSIONAL TERRORISTS.

6. FBI reported that they traced the attackers to Florida where the FBI was told by the bar owner /manager that the two suspects came into the bar couple days ago and drank LIQUOR heavily (GOOD TRUE MUSLIMS AND DRINKING, WELL YES I KNOW SOME (M) DO DRINK ALCOHOLE BUT TRUE (JIHADI) MUSLIMS????NAHHHHHHHHHH).

My Q? Drinking and fighting with the bar manager over the bill, possibility to get the police involved, be in position to get caught, blow up and jeopardize their well thought out and long awaited plan. I DON'T THINK SO.

7. One report said, struggle in the plane, which crashed in PA. Phone calls were made from the plane. One man called his mother in California for (1 full minute) in which he told her that the plane has been hi-jacked, he loves his mother and family very much, also that hi-jackers have sharp knives. No description given at all about the ethnic background, race, color etc. Flight attendant called her family and told them that hi-jackers have knives, she is been stabbed, and even told them the SEAT # of the hi-jackers BUT NO DESCRIPTION GIVEN AT ALL.

My Q? Was the HI-JACKERS hiding their face? WHY THESE BOTH CALLERS COULD NOT SEE OR JUDGE AND IDENTIFY THE HI-JACKERS IDENTITY?

8. Plane tickets were purchased by credit card of Mr. M. ATTA, leading FBI and swat teams to the WESTIN HOTEL where 3 of the helpers were waiting AFTER almost over 29 hours of the initial attack on WTC. HOW IDIOTIC IS THIS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ASSIGNED AND TRAINED TO PULL OFF AN ATTACK AND DESTROY (WTC) THE LANDMARK OF SUCCESS AND FREEDOM OF AMERICA.

Some said that while the associates of hi-jackers were waiting for the FBI to show up and arrest them, they ordered PIZZA WITH BLACK OLIVES AND TOOK TURNS TAKING SHORT NAPS.

9. In 1993, unsuccessful WTC bombing happened, 6 people died, over 1000 injured. Several Arabs were arrested including Mr. Mohamed Ramzi Yusouf in Pakistan. Still in jail in Colorado awaiting his punishment. HBO movie in 1995 (ROAD TO PARADISE) in which the story of the WTC was told and at the end of the movie Mr. Ramzi Yusouf was quoted looking at the Twin Towers, "NEXT TIME WE WILL BRING THEM BOTH DOWN".

My Q? Who the hell made that movie and predicted in the movie that this will happen some day in the future and how did they reached this conclusion? Again, who controls and operates the MEDIA and the MOVIE BUSINESS?

IN CONCLUSION:

There is a good reason to believe that Prime Minister of ISRAEL Mr. Ariel Sharon and ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE is behind this tragedy. So far they have been very successful in killing not on 1, not 2, but three birds with only one bullet.

** Create hostile conditions for Muslims in the U.S. and all over the world. ** Have U.S. bomb and stop any kind of AID to the 3rd world Muslims countries like Palestine, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

** Biggest threat to ISRAEL in Middle Eastern region (Osama Bin Laden) and Make U.S. public, U.S. government, and the entire world believe that he is the MASTER MIND behind the American tragedy and have him killed by the U.S. military. HAVE Usama KILLED ON ANY PRICE.

Basically, create chaos between Muslims & Christians, sit back and watch over and benefit from the chain of events and destruction among Muslims & Christians. PRIME EXAMPLE: THREATS OF RETALLIATIONS AND ATTACKS HAE ALREADY BEGUN ON MOSQUES, IN SCHOOLS, AND AT WORKPLACE. Good and true Muslims are being called TERRORISTS, FOLLOWERS OF OSAMA & SADAAM, harassed for something they have no control OR influence over.

AS American-Muslim, I hope that whatever happens in the coming days, months, and years brings peace and calm to our beautiful world. Be safe, show that you care, and watch your back at this sad time in America.

Well done MR. SHARON AND ISRAEL, THE MASTERMINDS BEHIND THE AMERICAN TRAGEDY.

Sincerely,
(unclaimed)
_______________________________________________________
Walaykum asalaam,
Sister Reem

Robin:
iz,

This is not "very interesting." This is propaganda. If anyone has ever wondered what many extremest Arab newspapers are feeding their people-- here you have it, complete with Jewish conspiracy theories that only a Nazi could love.

I don't know what country you live in but in my country the Americans control the media. We have a free press which means that anyone can contribute. It also means that the kind of "interesting" material presented here soon shrivels in the light of serious examination.

We have been asking ourselves lately why extremest groups hate us so much that 19 people would hijack planes and murder thousands of innocent people. I am not sure I completely understand why, but I will tell you this. If the choice is to cower and give up our freedom, to forget the truth and turn our way of life over to this kind of bigotry then I know where Americans will stand. And I am very proud they will.

Peg:
Unfortunately, naive people may believe this story; they're like the people who believe that the U.S. never landed a man on the moon, but shot all the visuals in a Hollywood studio. In countries where the media is controlled by the government, it is hard to believe that the press, television, and the radio in the United States are free of anyone's control, let alone the mythical "Jewish owners". If you know any American reporters, you know this is true.

As to the fact that the terrorists made some mistakes, I think the thought of imminent death might rattle anyone, even to the point of leaving evidence around. And no one expected a lucky break (someone arguing with Atta et al.) to lead to the apartment so quickly.

It's interesting that "conspiracy theorists" can twist events to suit their own purposes, in this case to vilify Israel.

LLB:
In reading my brand new Newsweek, which arrived in the mail yesterday, there's an article that talks about this very thing. Apparently many in Egypt believe the Israelis are indeed behind the attacks. It's not just Atta's father that believes this. It doesn't say if this view has been widely disseminated in the Egyptian press, but does say this is not just the view of a few.

While the government of Egypt made their peace w/Israel years ago, that doesn't say its people have. And in my daily reading, The Economist has some more terrific articles. One in particular echoes what I've been reading all week about the Saudi government and how, in order to deflect criticism of itself, has encouraged negative beliefs about America to grow. I think it's critical to understand why countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt harbor more of the folks than other Arab nations, and how people like bin Laden have used those people to foment hate.

Susan:
I was on the second day of a business trip on September 11. I flew to Arkansas / NW regional airport on Monday. We visited a customer in Missouri southwest corner then drove to Lawton, Oklahoma. I had never been to Missouri, Oklahoma or that corner of Arkansas so I was looking forward to the experience of a new corner of our nation. That is one of my favorite things about my infrequent travel.

Well, because of it being my first time there, I asked my local sales colleague if we could see the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. We stopped there at about 9:30 pm on Monday evening. We walked around the plaza, gazed at the chairs set in rows to memorialize each person lost that day in that building. At night it was a beautiful, sad place.

We left there and drove on another hour, in a quiet mood. We didn't understand what drove Timothy McVeigh to the point that all those deaths made sense.

Less than twelve hours later I was downloading email at the little desk at the Holiday Inn next to the TV set. I had CBS on and they were discussing heart attacks and women and I was trying to see if there was anything I didn't know in their report. Bryant Gumbel broke in with a special report. How odd, I thought. "A plane has gone into the World Trade Center" seems almost surreal even now as I write this. I watched, and then watched some more. It was thought to be a small plane. What could have happened?

I started to brush my teeth and still watch the burning/smoky sight. And then, the words I will never forget. "There is another plane." And like thousands or maybe millions, I watched a crash, fireball, explosion in horror.

Somehow a moment (? Time ?) I was at the sink and spitting out toothpaste. I nearly fell to my knees. I was thinking "I watched people die". I whispered in horror "Fuck. oh Fuck." And I felt like I would be sick.

That feeling didn't leave me for days, I still get jittery as I relive the sequence.

I called my colleague down the hall, I called my Mom and Dad, we talked to our customer, we went to the business call and proceeded through the most surreal and bizarre day in my life. When we got to the mill, we talked to the customer about the situation, listened on the radio and didn't start to work for quite a while, maybe a half hour to forty minutes. And another weird thing? I didn't introduce myself until we did start business discussions. We were all just Americans, trying to figure out what was going on. Names didn't matter.

Just twelve hours before that, I didn't understand why Oklahomans had to die for Timothy McVeigh's version of "justice".

I will never understand this massacre of my fellow Americans in New York, in Washington and wherever the fourth plane was headed.

And I will never forget where I was that week.

Karen:
I was at work the morning of 9/11 when someone rushed in to tell us that a plane hit the WTC, and then another. We were stunned. We scrambled to get to CNN's website for some news but it was too busy. Eventually we found a tv and fumbled to get some kind of antenna to get a picture. It's a small office and we sat stunned in front of our little tv, quiet, questioning what we were seeing, but not believing it. Since that day, my husband has said that I cry at the most trivial things, and I do. I can't help it. And it has been a little harder to sit and read about romance these last two weeks, which is sad because I love romance novels, I love to escape into them. I know time will heal the hurt, and possibly lessen the anger, however, time will not erase the memories of what I saw. We have resumed our normal activities at home, dinner at the table, talking and laughing, and watching funny TV shows together. And we are being a little more tolerant of the kids and the noise they make... I'm just thanking God they're here to make it.

sandy c:
I know I have been strangely silent lately, but like many of you, I was deeply affected by what happened. I actually did not feel like reading or posting on the net much. Bless you Laurie for opening up this board. I think you realized that many of us have had a problem with this and it helps to talk about it.

I watched the news that Tuesday morning. I had been working on my computer at home and was running late for work when my sister called and told me to turn on the tube. I watched as they showed the 1st wtc burning and then watched in horror as the second plane hit. I simply sat down in shock. I froze, glued to the tv for over an hour and watched in horror again as the buildings collapsed. I finally realized that i needed to let someone know at work where i was. i had been in such a shock for over two hours that i hadn't even called in to work.

This last two weeks has affected so many of us. At first, for some of us, so far removed from the big city of New York in the rural south, we watched with horror at the events unfolding, and at the same time thanking god for being in such a rural area. it was hard to accept that this tragedy would have such a major affect on our day to day lives so far away.

But that first instinctive self protecting thought was denied most of us in the 1st hour following the WTC strikes. For me, all it took was me finally showing up to work that day. And it struck close, my office mate and co-worker. His sister works and lives in Manhatten. It took him 6 hours to finally get a phone call from his sister saying she was okay. It has been a long time since I saw a man in real tears, but his frustration, fear, and anger simply took it’s toll and I thank God for it. That much emotion bottled up could only cause pain.

By the end of the day, most American’s felt violated. How dare someone do this in our free America. How dare they! Our grief for those lives lost waged war with our absolute anger. If I had been standing next to ben Ladin I would have done everything in my power to see him dead. How many of us felt the same rage and anger?

For the next week and into this week, I have found myself crying at everything. The story of the wife that calmly said goodbye to her husband on flight 93 during that cell phone conversation had me at my knees. And at the same time made me so very proud to be an American. The wife’s grief and final acceptance of absolute love, so very obvious, combined with her strength, resolve, and dignity was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Can I say that without offending anyone? It was so, so, terribly beautiful.

Listening to the man telling the story about his sister and niece and her friend. And the absolutely unbelievably tragic fate of how they each were on a different plane, each one used to stike the WTC.

And the children, god, I know a life is a life, but the children. Every time I see evidence that a child was involved I want to rip something apart. How could someone value a life, an innocent life, so little?

Watching 100’s of our nations finest, bravest, men and women trying desperately to rescue any signs of life in that hell pit. I felt their frustration and pain. I felt it, i think each of us did. And knowing that even when the rescue and recovery ended, for many of these wonderfully brave souls, the terror would take years to end. The amount of post traumatic stress from this one event will be treated for years to come.

If we do nothing else, it’s to make sure those brave souls have a chance to talk about this as much as possible when it is over, even if we are tired of hearing it and have tried to move on with our lives. they have not had the time or chance to do so yet and they will need that.

It’s called terrorism. Nothing, no other countries pain or suffering can ever justify this type of violence. I don’t care if they are starving in the streets and suffering terrible, terrible injustices. If someone commits act’s such as these, then they are less than human and need to be treated as such. I have listened and read accounts of the IRA and other terrorist groups state this is the only way they can strike back. I don’t believe this. This is the coward’s way.

I have spent a lot of time on europe travel message boards over the last year or two and in the course of that time, I have read a lot of anti american views. Most have to do with one thing. What is perceived as our arrogance and how much of our culture seems to overtake their culture or our lack of respect for other cultures.

I don’t try to defend it. Freedom, our individual freedom is what makes American’s who they are and how they act. Our ability to be curious in nature and outspokenness without fear of reprisal. Our right to wake up in the morning and walk from A to B without fear of being blown to bits. Many places in the world do not value or allow that freedom and they fear it because it means a change or loss of power. Our total commitment to being fair in our daily lives, our laws and how most american’s treat others. We have fought for these freedoms 4 or 5 times in these 200 years, revolutionay war, civil war, wwI, wwII. We have fought for freedom and political power for others 2 or 3 times, and here is where we lack staying power. Korea and Vietnam and yes Afganistan.

I agree with the person that said many people of the world do not understand that the unwise mistakes our government has made, does not always mean that we as individual’s supported those mistakes or even knew about them. Maybe that is our fault and where the problem lies. But no matter what, it does not warrant the killing of thousands of innocent civilians.

I know this has changed my sense of security. I love to travel and right now the joy of that is somehow tainted by a bit of fear. And that feeling does not go away. This means that when I do travel I will be overly cautious and that means that I will lose some of the enjoyment and carefreeness. So in some respects, the terrorists have won something. My peace of mind. Have they won anything else. I don’t think so.

They truly do not understand American’s if they think they have. We will never stand down. We will never back down from our way of freedom and democracy. They can destroy every building and with it many lives and we will simply help each other up again and rebuild and start over. That is the true spirit of America.

I am so proud of American's today. Of our giving nature and willingness to help each other. I know that there are reports of bigotry, but for each one they report, i think there are 100's of cases of support they don't report. hopefully those people that are striking out in the wrong place will get thru this initial anger and it will die down.

I do know that in the last 2 weeks i have become very angry once again at some information that the media has brought to light again about the middle east. that anger has to do with the way women are still treated in that part of the world and why our governments will go to war over oil rights but still do nothing about the treatment of women and children.

i know that some would say it is the way of their religion. but i can't accept such a explaination for injustices.

once again, thanks laurie for allowing this discussion on the board. I haven't been able to read much this last two weeks for thinking about this. hopefully, as we talk it out, we can work thru it and try to get back to our normal day to day lives.

LLB:
Thanks for sharing your comments. I wanted to add one thing. Last night as I was watching Nightline w/my husband, I turned to him during a commercial break and told him we live in one of the few countries in the world where people of different religions can live next door to one another w/out suspicion or fear. Even more than that, we live in a country of more than one religion; there are other countries around the world where everyone follows the same religion; problems occur when people w/a different religion move in.

I'm not being a pollyanna, or not recognizing that in some places there is discrimination, but for the most part, and compared to other countries around the world, people of various religions co-exist quite well in the US. We even celebrate our differences. I think this is something people like bin Laden don't understand. It is our melting pot history that makes us different - it also makes us stronger.

Ellen:
I can remember how moved I was when a young woman from Bosnia told me how happy and really amazed she was. She is a Muslim, her husband is a Christian. In her country they were all but outcasts but in America, (she said) "no one minds."

iz:
Law of Nature:

Newton's Third Law in Physics: "For every Action, there is an equal and opposite Reaction."

For those of you who want facts and figures and have the intellect to judge 'good' from 'evil' and the courage to know and say out the truth....for the rest should delete this email NOW!

Ever since the United States Army massacred 300Lakotas in 1890, American forces have intervened elsewhere around the globe 100 times. Indeed the United States has sent troops abroad or militarily struck other countries' territory 216 times since independence from Britain. Since 1945 the United States has intervened in more than 20 countries throughout the world.

Since World War II, the United States actually dropped bombs on 23 countries. These include: China 1945-46,
Korea 1950-53,
China 1950-53,
Guatemala 1954,
Indonesia 1958,
Cuba 1959-60,
Guatemala 1960,
Congo 1964,
Peru 1965,
Laos 1964-73,
Vietnam 1961-73,
Cambodia 1969-70,
Guatemala 1967-69,
Grenada 1983,
Lebanon 1984,
Libya 1986,
El Salvador 1980,
Nicaragua 1980,
Panama 1989,
Iraq 1991-1999,
Sudan 1998,
Afghanistan 1998,
and Yugoslavia 1999.

Post World War II, the United States has also assistedin over 20 different coups throughout the world, and the CIA was responsible for half a dozen Assassinations of political heads of state.

The following is a comprehensive summary of the imperialist strategy of the United States over the span of the past century:

Argentina - 1890 - Troops sent to Buenos Aires to protect business interests.
Chile - 1891 - Marines sent to Chile and clashed with nationalist rebels.
Haiti - 1891 - American troops suppress a revolt by Black workers on United States-claimed Navassa Island.
Hawaii - 1893 - Navy sent to Hawaii to overthrow the independent kingdom - Hawaii annexed by the United States.
Nicaragua - 1894 - Troops occupied Bluefields, a city on the Caribbean Sea, for a month.
China - 1894-95 - Navy, Army, and Marines landed during the Sino-Japanese War.
Korea - 1894-96 - Troops kept in Seoul during the war.
Panama - 1895 - Army, Navy, and Marines landed in the port city of Corinto.
China - 1894-1900 - Troops occupied China during the Boxer Rebellion.
Philippines - 1898-1910 - Navy and Army troops landed after the Philippines fell during the Spanish-American War; 600,000 Filipinos were killed.
Cuba - 1898-1902 - Troops seized Cuba in the Spanish-American War; the United States still maintains troops at Guantanamo Bay today.
Puerto Rico - 1898 - present - Troops seized Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War and still occupy Puerto Rico today.
Nicaragua - 1898 - Marines landed at the port of San Juan del Sur.
Samoa - 1899 - Troops landed as a result over the battle for succession to the throne.
Panama - 1901-14 - Navy supported the revolution when Panama claimed independence from Colombia.
American troops have occupied the Canal Zone since 1901 when construction for the canal began.
Honduras - 1903 - Marines landed to intervene during a revolution.
Dominican Rep 1903-04 - Troops landed to protect American interests during a revolution.
Korea - 1904-05 - Marines landed during the Russo-Japanese War.
Cuba - 1906-09 - Troops landed during an election.
Nicaragua - 1907 - Troops landed and a protectorate was set up.
Honduras - 1907 - Marines landed during Honduras' war with Nicaragua.
Panama - 1908 - Marines sent in during Panama's election.
Nicaragua - 1910 - Marines landed for a second time in Bluefields and Corinto.
Honduras - 1911 - Troops sent in to protect American interests during Honduras' civil war.
China - 1911-41 - Navy and troops sent to China during continuous flare-ups.
Cuba - 1912 - Troops sent in to protect American interests in Havana.
Panama - 1912 - Marines landed during Panama's election.
Honduras - 1912 - Troops sent in to protect American interests.
Nicaragua - 1912-33 - Troops occupied Nicaragua and fought guerrillas during its 20-year civil war.
Mexico - 1913 - Navy evacuated Americans during revolution.
Dominican Rep 1914 - Navy fought with rebels over Santo Domingo.
Mexico - 1914-18 - Navy and troops sent in to intervene against nationalists.
Haiti - 1914-34 - Troops occupied Haiti after a revolution and occupied Haiti for 19 years.
Dominican Rep 1916-24 - Marines occupied the Dominican Republic for eight years.
Cuba - 1917-33 - Troops landed and occupied Cuba for 16 years; Cuba became an economic protectorate.
World War I - 1917-18 - Navy and Army sent to Europe to fight the Axis powers. (emphasis mine)
Russia - 1918-22 - Navy and troops sent to eastern Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution; Army made five landings.
Honduras - 1919 - Marines sent during Honduras' national elections.
Guatemala - 1920 - Troops occupied Guatemala for two weeks during a union strike.
Turkey - 1922 - Troops fought nationalists in Smyrna.
China - 1922-27 - Navy and Army troops deployed during a nationalist revolt.
Honduras - 1924-25 - Troops landed twice during a national election.
Panama - 1925 - Troops sent in to put down a general strike.
China - 1927-34 - Marines sent in and stationed for seven years throughout China.
El Salvador - 1932 - Naval warships deployed during the FMLN revolt under Marti.
World War II - 1941-45 - Military fought the Axis powers: Japan, Germany, and Italy. (emphasis mine)
Yugoslavia - 1946 - Navy deployed off the coast of Yugoslavia in response to the downing of an American plane.
Uruguay - 1947 - Bombers deployed as a show of military force.
Greece - 1947-49 - United States operations insured a victory for the far right in national "elections."
Germany - 1948 - Military deployed in response to the Berlin blockade; the Berlin airlift lasts 444 days.
Philippines - 1948-54 - The CIA directed a civil war against the Filipino Huk revolt.
Puerto Rico - 1950 - Military helped crush an independence rebellion in Ponce.
Korean War - 1951-53 - Military sent in during the war.
Iran - 1953 - The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of democratically elected Mossadegh and restored the Shah to power.
Vietnam - 1954 - The United States offered weapons to the French in the battle against Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh.
Guatemala - 1954 - The CIA overthrew the democratically elected Arbenz and placed Colonel Armas in power.
Egypt - 1956 - Marines deployed to evacuate foreigners after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.
Lebanon - 1958 - Navy supported an Army occupation of Lebanon during its civil war.
Panama - 1958 - Troops landed after Panamanians demonstrations threatened the Canal Zone.
Vietnam - 1950s-75 - Vietnam War.
Cuba - 1961 - The CIA-directed Bay of Pigs invasions failed to overthrow the Castro government.
Cuba - 1962 - The Navy quarantines Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Laos - 1962 - Military occupied Laos during its civil war against the Pathet Lao guerrillas.
Panama - 1964 - Troops sent in and Panamanians shot while protesting the United States presence in theCanal Zone.
Indonesia - 1965 - The CIA orchestrated a military coup.
Dominican Rep- 1965-66 - Troops deployed during a national election.
Guatemala - 1966-67 - Green Berets sent in.
Cambodia - 1969-75 - Military sent in after theVietnam War expanded into Cambodia.
Oman - 1970 - Marines landed to direct a possible invasion into Iran.
Laos - 1971-75 - Americans carpet-bomb the countryside during Laos' civil war.
Chile - 1973 - The CIA orchestrated a coup, killing President Allende who had been popularly elected. The CIA helped to establish a military regime under General Pinochet.
Cambodia - 1975 - Twenty-eight Americans killed in an effort to retrieve the crew of the Mayaquez, which had been seized.
Angola - 1976-92 - The CIA backed South African rebels fighting against Marxist Angola.
Iran - 1980 - Americans aborted a rescue attempt to liberate 52 hostages seized in the Teheran embassy.
Libya - 1981 - American fighters shoot down two Libyan fighters.
El Salvador - 1981-92 - The CIA, troops, and advisers aid in El Salvador's war against the FMLN.
Nicaragua - 1981-90 - The CIA and NSC directed the Contra War against the Sandinistas.
Lebanon - 1982-84 - Marines occupied Beirut during Lebanon's civil war; 241 were killed in the American barracks and Reagan redeployed" the troops to the Mediterranean.
Honduras - 1983-89 - Troops sent in to build bases near the Honduran border.
Grenada - 1983-84 - American invasion overthrew theMaurice Bishop government.
Iran - 1984 - American fighters shot down two Iranian planes over the Persian Gulf.
Libya - 1986 - American fighters hit targets in and around the capital city of Tripoli.
Bolivia - 1986 - The Army assisted government troops on raids of cocaine areas.
Iran - 1987-88 - The United States intervened on the side of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.
Libya - 1989 - Navy shot down two more Libyan jets.
Virgin Islands - 1989 - Troops landed during unrest among Virgin Island peoples.
Philippines - 1989 - Air Force provided air cover for government during coup.
Panama - 1989-90 - 27,000 Americans landed in overthrow of President Noriega; over 2,000 Panama civilians were killed.
Liberia - 1990 - Troops entered Liberia to evacuate foreigners during civil war.
Saudi Arabia - 1990-91 - American troops sent to SaudiArabia, which was a staging area in the war against Iraq.
Kuwait - 1991 - Troops sent into Kuwait to turn back Saddam Hussein.
Somalia - 1992-94 - Troops occupied Somalia during civil war.
Bosnia - 1993-95 - Air Force jets bombed "no-fly zone" during civil war in Yugoslavia.
Haiti - 1994-96 - American troops and Navy provided a blockade against Haiti's military government. The CIA restored Aristide to power.
Zaire - 1996-97 - Marines sent into Rwanda Hutus' refugee camps in the area where the Congo revolution began.
Albania - 1997 - Troops deployed during evacuation of foreigners.
Sudan - 1998 - American missiles destroyed a pharmaceutical complex where alleged nerve gas components were manufactured.
Afghanistan - 1998 - Missiles launched towards allegedAfghan terrorist training camps.
Yugoslavia - 1999 - Bombings and missile attacks carried out by the United States in conjunction with NATO in the 11 week war against Milosevic.
Iraq - 1998-2001 - Missiles launched into Baghdad and other large Iraq cities for four days. American jets enforced "no-fly zone" and continued to hit Iraqi targets since December 1998.

These **100** instances of American military intervention did not include times when the United States:

(1) deployed military police overseas;
(2) mobilized the National Guard;
(3) sent Navy ships off the coast of numerous countries as a show of strength;
(4) sent additional troops to areas where Americans were already stationed;
(5) carried out covert actions where American forces were not under the direct rule of an American command;
(6) used small hostage rescue units;
(7) used American pilots to fly foreign planes;
(8) carried out military training and advisory programs which did not involve direct combat.

U. S. Government Assassination Plots

Following is a list of prominent foreign leaders whose assassination (or planning for same) the United States has been involved in since the end of Second World War. The list does not include several assassinations in various parts of the world carried out by anti-Castro Cubans employed by CIA and headquartered in the United States:

LIST A: NON MUSLIMS
1949 - KIm Koo, Korean opposition leader
1950 - CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of numerous political figures in West Germany
1955 - Jose' Antonio Remon, President of Panama
1950 Chou En-lai, Prime Minister of China, several attempts on his life
1951 - Kim Il Sung, Premiere of North Korea
1950s (mid) - Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader
1955 - Jawar Lal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
1959 and 1963 - Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia
1950s-70s - Jose Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life
1961 - Francois "Papa Doc"Duvalier, leader of Haiti
1961 - Patrice Lumumba , Prime Minister of Congo (Zaire)
1961 - Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic
1963 - Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam
1960s - Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, more than 15 attempts on his life
1960s - Raul Castro, high official in government of Cuba
1965 - Francisco Caamanao, Dominican Republic opposition leader
1965 - Pierre Ngendandumwe, Prime Minister of Burundi
1965-6 - Charles de Gaulle, President of France
1967 - Che Guevara, Cuban leader
1970 - Salvadore Allende, President of Chile
1970 - General Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile
1970s and 1981 - Gen. Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama
1972 - General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence
1975 - Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire
1976 - Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica
1983 - Miguel d'Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
1984 - The nine commandantes of the Sandanista National Directorate
1980's - Dr. Gerald Bull, Canadian Ballistics Scientist assassinated by Mossad in Belgium.

Partial List of Muslim Leaders Assassinated or Attempted Assassinations


1950 Sukarno, President of Indonesia
1957 Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt
1960 Brigadier General, Abdul Karim Kassem, Leader of Iraq
1980-86 Muammar Qaddafi, Leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life
1982 Ayatullah Khomeini, Leader of Iran
1983 General Ahmed Dlimi, Moroccan army Commander
1985 Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadllallah, Lebanese Shiite Leader (80 people killed in that attempt)
1991 Saddam Hussein, Leader of Iraq

Reference: Blum, William, "KILLING HOPE - U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II," Appendix III U.S. Government Assassination Plots, page 453, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine 1995. ISBN 1-56751-052-3

Very likely Victims :

March 25, 1975 - King Faisal of Saudi Arabia through his Nephew, Saudi Arabia for imposing 1973 Oil Embargo.
April 4, 1979 - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Leader of Pakistan, for pursuing making of Nuclear Bomb.
August, 1988. General Ziaul Haq, Military Leader of Pakistan.
1995 - Murtaza Bhutto, Son of ZUlfiqar Ali Bhutto, Anti-American would-be Leader - Pakistan.
August 24, 1999. Mullah Mohammad Omar, in Kandhar, Afghanistan.

List of Known Assassination Plots:

1950 Sukarno, President of Indonesia
1957 Gamal Abdul Nasser, President
2001 Since early this year more than 40 Palestinian leaders assassinated through surrogate Israel.

May I repeat the Law of Nature:

Newton's Third Law in Physics: "For every Action, there is an equal and opposite Reaction."

Reaction: Tuesday, September 11, 2001, World Trade Center struck by two planes, and Pentagon, commandeered by 19 hi-jackers of Arab origin, killing more than5 thousand people.

GOD BLESS US…. AAMEEN

LLB:
From www.theonion.com

God Angrily Clarifies the 'Don't Kill' Rule

NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers.

"Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe. "I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an. "To be honest, there's some contradictory stuff in there, okay?" God said. "So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it's God's will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall."

God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.

"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."

God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!" Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

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