Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Are We Just a Bunch of Sisyphuses?

I was listening to Lucky Bitch Radio yesterday and Wanda had as her guest, Lady Bunny. Now I have heard of Lady Bunny, seen the pictures and the various and sundry video clips of this famed drag queen and was expecting something similar.

I was bowled over. Not only is this drag queen deliciously raunchy, indulgent, and tragically fabulous but she is also eloquent and very well read when it comes to current events, analyses of popular culture, and the decline of western civilization, but I digress.

During the podcast the topic of 9/11 came up. I know right, groan groan how many times do we have to discuss that day? Hasn't everything already been said? Well, maybe not. Lady Bunny brought up a question that I have had in my head for a very long time but have never vocalized for reasons of being labeled as a sympathizer with the terrorists, but who am I to care about labels, especially when the couldn't be further from the truth.

So here's the question, the million dollar question that no one seems to want to ask and yet the answer to could possibly hold so many solutions to our current predicament. The question that I think was hastily overlooked and cast aside and replaced with a vicious streak of vengeful bloodlust. A question that I myself overlooked to embrace my carnal desire to seek revenge on those who attacked us but lingered in my head from the start of all of this:

Humans are to a certain extent capable of senseless acts of violence but I have to believe that we have some shred of good left in us as a species, that we do not go around killing people for no reason. With that in mind we have to ask ourselves, as a nation, what did we do to these people to motivate them to want to kill us?

Terrorism is unlike conventional warfare in that it isn't really about land or technological superiority so its almost a distillation of what is at the core of all war, ideology. So why aren't we using our heads as weapons? To write off terrorists as "evildoers" doesn't answer the question, its simply a distraction. One the best teachers I ever had would incessantly yell at us in analytical literature class, "Don't tell me what! Tell me WHY!" You can kill people all you like, but ideas and reasons are beyond bodies and can't be destroyed by bullets and bombs. If we fail to realize that then all of this will happen again and we'll be trapped in a Sisyphean cycle, pushing that boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down again. It would do us more good to use our resources to find and treat the cause of this problem rather than waste time and lives treating the symptoms.


Blogger Rick Andreoli said...

I had that very same question and, like you, didn't verbalize it because it just wasn't appreciated at the time. Thanks for bringing it up!

4:13 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

I too had that thought in my head the moment it happened. I voiced it, but everyone just looked at me in confusion. I was actually a bit naive about the whole thing, I actually expected America to think something along the same lines.

We do something as America (or are perceived to) that drives these people to these extremes. I thought our first actions would be to track the perpetrators down and punish them (which we sort of did), and simultaneously work to change how America acts and is perceived by people in that region of the world (which we did not).

5:51 PM  
Blogger Knute123 said...

This is the very question those in power prefer you never ponder at length - probably because they don't give a shit about the answer. This seems like yet another "Inconvenient Truth" that our leaders would prefer to ignore (it doesn't make for good speechwriting I suppose--evildoer has such a nice ring to it).

While attacking innocents (blowing yourself up in the process) is an awfully CRAZY thing to do, how many humans would just decide, "I'm bored...time to attack America for their freedom and kill myself in the process!" Not many. People always have reasons - no matter how wrongheaded those reasons might be.

Osama Bin Laden stated many years before 2001 his intentions and reasons for wanting to perpetuate attacks like 9/11. He wanted America out of his homeland - Saudi Arabia. Osama wanted us to remove our military installations - which GW apparently agrees is a good idea because last year he did just that.

After 9/11 imagine the different reactions from the world community - including Arab nations - if instead of just attacking, we had made it our policy to kill terrorism with social policies as a balance to war? Clean drinking water for all 3rd world nations! No more oppressive trade policies! Real AIDS help to Africa!

How could Osama attract desperate youths to his cause if America is suddenly the beacon of hope for oppressed people? I'm not saying we need to police the world or pay for all services-or even admit mistakes as politicians so hate to do. But we should make ourselves heros - a model for other nations to follow. I feel like at some point when I was a kid, this was the America I knew. There was vision for the future. Now, it seems as if the leadership of this country cannot see beyond the daily news cycle, let alone seeing the big picture of terrorism.

For any Battlestar Galactica fans -You might recall Adama asking Sharon 2 a very similar question last season: Why do the Cylons hate us so much? It's essentially the same question: What did we do to inspire these attacks?

It is not weakness to examine your own country and ask questions of your enemy's motivation. It helps you solve the problem you face.

7:20 PM  
Blogger john said...

To borrow a quote from one of my favorite books The Diary of Anne Frank: In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
It's such a beautiful quote. Everyone is human, everyone feels the same types of emotions.
I believe that something must have caused a person such misery, such hatred that they can commit such heinous crimes against others.
Inherently, I believe that every person has the capacity to love.

7:33 PM  
Blogger tornwordo said...

Yes, America the great actually treats others around the world with shocking indifference. We protect our interests at all costs, and though we don't see it in our media, around the world media present the US in a startlingly negative light. And for good reason. We make agreements and ignore them. We bomb places we have no business being. We exploit other nations wherever possible. I could go on and on and on and on. Rest assured, there are plenty of reasons to be hated.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Seeker Onos said...

I'm kind of with Tornwordo on this one: We have no real business there. Yet, being the slaves to petrol that we are all become, it is for now, an evil that we find ourselves unwilling and perhaps even unable to wean ourselves from.

We might ask, "why do they hate us...?" (whether this is just the Islamic Extremists™ or the world in general) The fault for this is held by both parties. First, we can look to ourselves:

We tend to make ourselves targets. In the Islamic worldview, America is the "Great Satan", the source of all that is morally wrong in the universe, the utter antithesis of what the Islamic ideals of "submission to Allah" should be.

Of course, part and parcel of the American Way of Life™ includes gender equity, marginal tolerance of LGBT people (and let's be be honest: in our American "christian" nation, LGBT people are several orders of magnitude safer than say, in Saudi Arabia or Iran).

Among other things, Americans are fond of a love of money, and accumlating (some useful, but mostly frivolous) consumer goods and status symbols. All of these things are the vehicles for which the Islamic Extremist polemicists use to justify thier jihad against America(ns).

Secondly, the Islamic side of the coin... (check out for some relatively neutral/non-christian views of Islam)

Of course, seldom do you see or hear of thier mullahs and imams and ayatollahs strapping bombs to themselves to take a short ride to Allah and thier 72 virgins in Paradise... that is promised as a "reward" to the legions of common Muslims who for the most part, lack the access to the temporal wealth so many oil sheikhs and religious authorities have.

These clerics feed thier flocks a daily diet of lies and hatred against America, in addition to harping on existing injustices that we do continue to perpetuate against the third world: in thier eyes, they are waging righteous war on behalf of the Dar-al-Islam (the House of Submission, a.k.a. the Islamic world) against the nasty, impure and unconverted kafir (infidels, non-muslims) in the Dar-al-Harb (the House of War, a.k.a. rest of the world).

The ultimate goal would for (extremist) Islam is to unite the world under a single Islamic (extremist) caliphate. Understandably, I don't think most Americans will go for that.

Several years ago, I knew a lad from Bahrain who was attending Colorado State University. He and I got into a discussion about Islam, and when I asked him about how he felt about terrorism as a valid method of expressing anger against "the adversary", he calmly dismissed it as being something that only crazy people do.

Yet this kid was an oil prince who had everything handed to him on a silver platter. He has the convenience of ignoring the finer points of Islam, such as killing any kafir who do not submit to Allah.

The sort of man who would conduct a terror attack is typically a guy who has nothing else to lose, and believes that he is acting according to Allah's will to subdue the kafir/infidels.

A better long term strategy would be to discredit and see to the intellectual disenfranchisement of the (extremist) Islamic cleric class; in other words, encourage the same sort of separation of "church and state" that keeps the most extremely fundamentalist Christians at bay in the USA.

How exactly to do this is something that I haven't really thought through, but it would seem that it is eaiser to de-fang and de-claw some beasts rather than kill them outright.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Kalvin said...

Too much to bite off in a comment or an email. I don't have the solution. I think it's just the problems of the 20th century have finally caught up with us. What does it mean, globalization? What is multi-culturalism? Maybe I was an asshole because I always considered this very ideological. I wish I had a solution, but I think it's many decades and many great thinkers off (although hopefully not, and hopefully not just a big war).

11:52 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

The problem is that most Americans want to elect people and then place some kind of blind trust in them that they will act with our best interests at heart and not ruin who we are in the eyes of the world. Or they don't care.
Either way, the people we've now set up in office would attack you, Adam, for even raising this question. Look at what Karl Rove himself said (paraphrased): "when terrorists attack the World Trade Center, Republicans wanted to go after them; Democrats wanted to offer them therapy."
We live in a day when our leaders don't WANT to explore root causes. They want that oil. They want their money. They want their way and anything that gets IN their way will be demolished.

1:12 PM  
Blogger GayProf said...

U.S. citizens willfully disbelieve that anybody could be hostile to this nation or that the U.S. has ever made mistakes. Many of my students are shocked (SHOCKED!) to learn that the U.S. has a long history of imperialism (Wait – Just how did we get possession of Puerto Rico?).

Right now it seems most people prefer cheerleading to thoughtful debate about the U.S.’s role in the world.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Knute123 said...

I think what GayProf touches on an important point.

What are we taught as kids?Students are taught that America is the best nation - nowhere on Earth has any nation achieved a fraction of our greatness. This is the accepted viewpoint when you are a child and not far off from Nationalism.

How do students get to the college level with almost zero knowledge of America's imperialism when it is a fact of history?

Remember Manifest Destiny? Did you learn this was the chilling idea of Anglo-Saxon superiority that allowed America to expand across the West? Or did your teacher present it as something softer? Something much more acceptable? Just kinda sorta something that happened in the old days.

I know I was in a better school than most and it took me awhile to fully understand that Manifest Destiny was an idea based on racism and greed. For a long time I thought of it as an America's right to expand wherever we saw fit--much like the neocons do now I imagine. Except of course I was like...ten years old.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Dagon said...

I am appalled at the lack of flamebait in your comment section, Adam.

What is the blogsphere coming to?

7:24 PM  
Blogger Captain Cox said...

Those Who Hate Us

Know Why?

It's amazing that America is the 'bad guy' here and that so many of you feel that we're to blame for these evil acts of hate. Again, it's liberal America spewing bitterness and hatred, and oh, because the Republicans have the power, it's sure to be their fault!?

Get a clue people, America is hated because of the leftist views and messages that we send out all over the world. They hate us not because of any 'military occupancy' or because a Republican lives at the White House. They hate us and are willing to kill us because we pose a grave threat to their society. The images from Hollywood of half-naked women, homosexuals (yes, that's right, homosexuals! Have you not seen what they do to people like us over there?!), and many free-society ideas. They are afraid of their power taken from them and given to the people. Last time I checked, we still had FREE elections in this country for ALL LEGAL CITIZENS, but wait, that's not enough for you guys!

If we're so horrible, move. Pretty simple. Also, keep in mind, that the horrible Americans are footing the bill for "the war," reconstruction, training, and many other fundable endeavors all over the world. And let's not forget all those AMERICANS who are laying down their lives so a civilization can have the opportunity at decent life. Is that so horrible?!

And need I remind you that the Imperialist country of The United States of America also is the most charitable nation on God's green Earth. Soooo horrible, why would anyone want to be called an American?! Seriously. Is it any wonder that Republicans are still in power? At least they have ideas on moving this country somewhere rather than pussy-putting around in our depravity that you all are so quite to spotlight.

I recommend watching this

11:09 AM  

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