An Inclusive Litany


At the all-star Concert for New York City on October 20, actor Richard Gere was loudly booed when he got onto the stage to proclaim: "the horrendous energy that we're all feeling, and the possibility of turning it into more violence and revenge, we can stop that. We can take that energy and turn it into something else. We can turn it into compassion, and... love, and... understanding."

Ten days earlier, Gere told ABC NewsRadio: "In a situation like this, of course you identify with everyone who's suffering." Gere went on to say that people also should consider "the terrorists who are creating such horrible future lives for themselves because of the negativity of this karma. It's all of our jobs to keep our minds as expansive as possible. If you can see [the terrorists] as a relative who's dangerously sick and we have to give them medicine, and the medicine is love and compassion. There's nothing better."

[Ed.: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was also booed at the concert, though to achieve this she did not have to open her mouth.]

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, October 31, 2001:
The Globe has proclaimed (Page A1, Oct 28) that the recent anthrax attacks are "the deadliest bioterrorist attack in US history," but let us remember that bioterrorism is not new to this soil. European settlers in pre-US North America are known to have intentionally used smallpox as a weapon to eliminate Native Americans from land that they coveted.

—W.D. Stefanowicz


The complete text of a letter from Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) to His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, October 12, 2001. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani returned the prince's check for $10 million in disaster aid immediately after the prince started using the publicity it generated as an opportunity to criticize U.S. foreign policy. McKinney's pitch begins in the sixth paragraph:
Dear Prince Alwaleed bin Talal:

I would like to take just a moment to thank you for your recent demonstration of empathy with those suffering from the devastating and heinous September 11 attacks on the United States Pentagon and the World Trade Center. I would especially like to thank you for your most generous offer of $10 million to assist those Americans in need as a result of those attacks.

I was disappointed that Mayor Giuliani chose to decline your generous offer and instead criticize you for your observations of events in the Middle East. Whether he agreed with you or not I think he should have recognized your right to speak and make observations about a part of the world which you know so well. I think Mayor Giuliani would do well to listen to the words of one of our greatest Americans, former Senator Robert Kennedy. In 1968 he said that America "is a great nation and a strong people. Any who seek to comfort rather than to speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration—they deny that greatness and drain that strength. For today as it was in the beginning, it is the truth that makes us free." I believe Senator Robert Kennedy's remarks remain as inspirational and true today as when he first spoke them over 30 years ago.

Let me say that there are a growing number of people in the United States who recognize, like you, that US policy in the Middle East needs serious examination. Indeed, on the same day that you made your remarks about US policy in the Middle East, the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, The Honorable Henry Hyde, spoke on National Public Radio and said, "There's no question in my mind that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important issue in dispute, and has generated a lot of the animosity towards us because of our unwavering support for Israel, which will remain in place." At the same time, CNN played an interview with former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who stated that America must "deal with some of the issues that animate the hostility" against us, like "the treatment of the population of Iraq" and that "the Israelis are stronger, so they're naturally inflicting much more casualties than the Palestinians on the Israelis and that produces frustration and rage."

Your Royal Highness, many of us here in the United States have long been concerned about reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that reveal a pattern of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces in situations where Palestinian demonstrators were unarmed and posed no threat of death or serious injury to the security forces or to others. Israeli peace organizations like B'Tselem accuse the Israeli Defense Forces of violating the most fundamental rules of international law in committing atrocities against Palestinians.

The Israeli Gush Shalom boldly states that "Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is the root cause of the violence and hatred. As long as the occupation continues, bloodshed will continue and increase." Indeed, Your Royal Highness, all people of good conscience understand that this kind of mistreatment breeds a hotbed of anger and despair that destabilizes peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Until we confront the realities of events in the Middle East our nation and the nations of the Middle East will be at risk.

Your Royal Highness, there are many people in America who desperately need your generosity. People who have been locked out, marginalized from America's mainstream. All of those people are poor and too many of them are people of color. A black baby boy born in Harlem today has less chance of reaching age 65 than a baby born in Bangladesh. Your Royal Highness, the state of black America is not good.

It is painfully visible in Washington D.C., where, just a few hundred yards from the White House, one can find black man after black man huddled in bus shelters, doorways, over subway ventilation shafts, sleeping on the street, thrown away like trash. Ironically, many of them are Vietnam veterans who, having served this nation with distinction in Vietnam, now find themselves without adequate care and accommodation. Unfortunately, this same scene is repeated in each and every one of our major cities here in the United States.

I am ashamed to say that my home city of Atlanta is no exception. Just last night my son was out with members of Atlanta's Muslim community who, for years, have been feeding Atlanta's homeless. Sadly, no one in mainstream Atlanta knows about the tireless and generous work of the local Muslim community. But the poor know, and I guess at one level that's all that matters. But on a broader view mainstream America should know.

The Justice Department admits that blacks are more likely than whites to be pulled over by police, imprisoned, and put to death. And, though blacks and whites have about the same rate of drug use, blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites and are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than whites. Incredibly, 80% of people in prison in the United States are people of color.

Twenty-six black men were executed last year, some probably innocent; America began 2001 by executing a retarded black woman.

Government studies on health disparities confirm that blacks are less likely to receive surgery, transplants, and prescription drugs than whites. Physicians are less likely to prescribe appropriate treatment for blacks than for whites and black scientists, physicians, and institutions are shut out of the funding stream to prevent all this. I serve in Congress where the Black Caucus is shrinking. Yet, sections of the Voting Rights Act will soon expire, and quite frankly, after crippling Court decisions, there is not much left of affirmative action to mend.

In the FBI's own words, its counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) had as a goal, "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of black organizations and to prevent black "leaders from gaining respectability."

And instead of real leaders, COINTELPRO offers us hand-picked "court priests" who are more loyal to the plan than to the people. Court priests who preach peace, peace when there is no peace.

As you can see, the statistics are very grim for Black America. Although your offer was not accepted by Mayor Giuliani, I would like to ask you to consider assisting Americans who are in dire need right now. I believe we can guide your generosity to help improve the state of Black America and build better lives. My office can provide you with a list of charities who labor under the most difficult circumstances to try and improve the lives of the people they serve. I hope you will consider reaching out to our charities and to our people who are in need. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

Cynthia McKinney
Member of Congress

[Ed.: After being criticized for writing this letter, Rep. McKinney said she was being "attacked for speaking," and that furthermore, "when it comes to major foreign policy issues, many prefer to have black people seen and not heard." And on a Berkeley radio program the following April, McKinney called for an investigation into whether the Bush administration had advance warning of the September attacks while doing nothing to prevent them, alleging that "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war." After once again being attacked for speaking, McKinney admitted she had no evidence to support such a charge. "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11," she said. "A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case."]

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called on parents to cancel their children's Halloween trick-or-treating, despite President Bush's exhortation for Americans to resume their normal lives. "Even in normal years," Jackson said, "it is a holiday of risk. Every year, we read tragic stories of children who are bloodied by sick tricks. They bite on an apple and are cut with a hidden razor blade. They are poisoned by doctored treats." But Jackson is apparently unaware that these stories of tampered Halloween treats are a hoax.

David Murray, director of the Statistical Assessment Service and co-author of It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality, notes that there have been only 76 reports of any kind of tampering since 1958, almost all of which were fraudulent or mistaken. Of the three reported fatalities, one was from a girl's fatal seizure due to a congenital heart disorder while she was out trick-or-treating. Of the two other children, one's father poisoned the child and blamed tainted candy in an attempt to conceal the crime, and the other child ate the father's heroin stash.

Elizabethe Holland of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports on a speech by Particia Ireland, former head of the National Organization for Women, October 29, 2001:
"It's important that we have freedom to debate and listen with open ears," she said. "I also want us to recognize not only what we're hearing in the discourse, but who we're hearing... and who we're not hearing."

Ireland said the majority of voices the nation has heard on all things significant since Sept. 11 belong to "rich, white, able-bodied and apparently straight men."

Where are the other voices, Ireland queried, those of women and people of color? If the collection of voices was more balanced, citizens might have heard more by now about the need to harness power and anger, she said, rather than a steady diet of "guy talk."

"Guy talk is 'Osama bin Laden, wanted dead or alive,' " she explained.

"Guy talk may be speaking in black and white of good and evil." With such a strong push for citizens to think alike, now is an especially important time to pursue governmental action on other key issues such as poverty and hate-crimes legislation, Ireland said. She also said citizens need to be mindful of military women's lack of reproductive rights while overseas. Securing abortion rights has long been one of NOW's top battles....

The Washington Post, October 29, 2001:
"I'm not justifying what happened on Sept. 11," said the Rev. Grayland Hagler, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Northeast Washington. "But it's clear that when Bush said if you're not with us, you're with the terrorist—when he said he wanted the man [alleged terrorist sponsor Osama bin Laden] dead or alive—he was calling out the posse, and black people know the posse. They come by and get you in the middle of the night and kill you without due process."


Dario Fo, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, in an e-mail newsletter:
The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty so what is 20,000 dead in New York? Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation.
Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature, in an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly:
Of course we grieved for the thousands of innocent civilians whose lives were destroyed on 11 September. But the so-called war on terrorism is just as despicable a crime.... While the group that carried out the September 11 attack showed utter disregard for any law or standard or decency, now we find a major world power doing the same.... Bombing innocent civilians... is simply an exercise of military power and America has this in abundance, allowing it to contribute to the factors causing terrorism rather than attacking its roots.

Günter Grass, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature, described the Bush administration's rhetoric in the war on terrorism as "Conjuring the spirit of November 9, 1938," the date of Kristallnacht, the start of Nazis' large-scale persecution of Jews that preceded the Holocaust.

Finally, Rigoberta Menchu, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, on

I exhort the international community not to fall in a logic of war, seeking retribution for old and new controversies among nations and justifying actions against groups and sectors that have not found a pluralist disposition for the recognition and respect of their individual expressions in the existing institutional frameworks.

[Ed.: Menchu's prize was not revoked even after she was found to have fabricated much of the biographical information with which it was justified.]


Florida's St. Petersburg Times, October 23, 2001, reports on a class project, designed and paid for by Dixie Hollins High School physics teacher Patricia Hollins, presumably designed to demonstrate gravity. After spreading a 9-by-9 foot poster of Osama bin Laden with a bull's eye over his face onto the school's football field, Ms. Hollins would climb into a cherry-picker and drop eggs onto the international terrorist from many feet up.
District officials are cautioning that the egg drop project—dubbed "The Yolk's on Osama"—could be construed as culturally insensitive. Now, plans for the poster have been scrapped....

Ultimately, the decision to cancel or go forward with the idea is up to the high school, said Pinellas County school spokesman Ron Stone. He said Dixie Hollins contacted the district and asked for its opinion.

"I reviewed it with a couple of people and I thought perhaps, especially with our emphasis on multicultural issues... that it would not be a good thing to do," Stone said. "Perhaps we could do something less controversial... maybe a poster that said terrorism."

Ken Cumming of the Institution for Creation Research discovers the perfect tie-in:
Only 13 days [after the World Trade Center attacks] on Public Broadcasting Stations, a seven-part, eight-hour event of grave importance was also witnessed by millions of Americans.... Both events have much in common.... And while the public now understands from President Bush that "We're at War" with religious fanatics around the world, they don't have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement called Darwinists.... [L]et this blatant video series speak for it. And let its support documents tell you of mind control beyond anything yet seen in public education. "Evolution" is PBS's assault that's coming to your children's classroom—not soon but now.

Writing on SFGate, a website associated with the San Francisco Chronicle, "longtime journalist and iconoclast" Harley Sorensen advanced another conspiracy theory: that U.S. military jets shot down flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania and is now lying about it. Sorensen's evidence: "Flight 93's 'black box,' the flight recorder, has been recovered, but so far the government hasn't seen fit to allow the press or the public to hear what was on it. The government also refuses to give out the names of the fighter pilots known to be flying in the vicinity of Flight 93. Because we don't know who they are, they can't be interviewed."

Sorenson also makes much of Vice President Cheney's relatively low profile at a time when President Bush was often available to the press. "Cheney's absence doesn't pass the smell test. It smells fishy. Is he hiding because he doesn't want to answer questions about Flight 93?" Sorenson also repeats a now-discredited assertion first advanced in May by Robert Scheer, that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Taliban with a $43 million check as part of the War on Drugs, allegedly to pay farmers not to grow opium. In fact, the reference is to a food assistance program administered by the United Nations and associated non-governmental organizations. At the time, Powell specifically stated that the aid "bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it."

[Ed.: Come to think of it, we haven't heard from Pierre Salinger about his thoughts on recent events. He must know too much about the downing of Flight 800 a few years ago....]

Philip Weiss reports from an upscale New York restaurant that served meals to rescue workers, in the New York Observer, October 15, 2001:
Any writer my age grew up with the statement by Ernest Hemingway that war is the best material and wondered if that was true, and whether we would ever get it. In Bouley's kitchen, I had my first taste of war. The feeling of doing important work, side by side, and trying to suppress your ego. The fluidity—that everyone was being called and that if you showed the right energy and purpose you could excel, and your job might change, you would get more responsibility in an instant. The chaos—two refrigerated trucks pulled up and we were suddenly, senselessly loading boxes of cheap tomato sauce from one to the other. The shortages—for hours there were not enough lids for the trays, and I had to go next door, or harass the dishwashers. The waste. Everything about normal life was turned on its head. Of course, I am talking about life behind the lines. Still, it was monstrously exciting.

The editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, again, in an op-ed posted on Yahoo News, October 22, 2001:
Finally the Bushies have the perfect excuse to do what the U.S. has wanted all along—invade and/or install an old-school puppet regime in Kabul. Realpolitik no more cares about the 6,000 dead than it concerns itself with oppressed women in Afghanistan; this ersatz war by a phony president is solely about getting the Unocal deal [for a pipeline from oil-rich Kazakhstan] done without interference from annoying local middlemen.

Sam Smith of the Progressive Review, in a speech to a Green Party conference, September 29, 2001:
The World Trade Center disaster is a globalized version of the Columbine High School disaster. When you bully people long enough they are going to strike back.


Whoops, someone let Oliver Stone onto another panel discussion, this one—sponsored by HBO Films and held at New York's Alice Tully Hall—on the subject of "Making Movies That Matter: The Role of Filmmaking in the National Debate." As reported by the New Yorker's Tad Friend, one panelist argued that cinema's primary role in the wake of the September 11 attack is to entertain, and not to try to clarify political issues. This elicited scattered hisses from the audience, followed by Stone's response:
There's been conglomeration under six principal princes—they're kings, they're barons!—and these six companies [Viacom, Fox, Disney, Vivendi, Sony, and Time-Warner] have control of the world.... Michael Eisner decides, "I can't make a movie about Martin Luther King, Jr.—they'll be rioting at the gates of Disneyland!" That's bulls**t! But that's what the new world order is.... They control culture, they control ideas. And I think the revolt of September 11th was about "F*** you! F*** your order."
At this point Stone was briefly interrupted by Christopher Hitchens, columnist at the Nation and Vanity Fair, who insisted that the events of September 11 represented "state-supported mass murder" rather than a "revolt," but Stone continued, amid nervous applause and puzzled looks from the audience:
The studios bought television stations. Why? Why did the telecommunications bill get passed at midnight, a hidden bill at midnight? The Arabs have a point! They're going to be joined by the people who objected in Seattle, and the usual ten per cent who are against everything, and it's going to be, like, twenty-five per cent of this country that's against the new world order. We need a trustbuster like Teddy Roosevelt to take the television stations away from the film companies and give them back to the people! ... Does anybody make a connection between the 2000 election and the events of September 11th? Look for the thirteenth month!
Nobody in attendance was able to squeeze any sense from that last statement. Stone went on to say that the Palestinians who danced at the news of the attack were reacting just as people had responded after the revolutions in France and Russia. At an informal luncheon following the event, Stone went on:
The new world order is about order and control. This attack was pure chaos, and chaos is energy. All great changes have come from people or events that were initially misunderstood, and seemed frightening, like madmen. Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Gates. I think, I think... I think many things.

Stone also apparently thought night was day, having told several women at the midday gathering what a wonderful evening it was.

A Reuters dispatch from London, October 22, 2001:
The United States has put a face on terrorism—and that face is Arab: just the sort of action analysts fear will pit the West against Islam.

They say the new U.S. "most wanted" list is more dramatic than diplomatic and risks inciting racial hatred, for all the West's insistence that it is fighting terrorism and not Islam.

"The irony is that by personalising and demonising you alienate. Despite all the attempts to show that its battle is not against Islam, [U.S. President George W.] Bush is making it all about Islam," said George Joffe, a Middle East expert at Cambridge University.

"All the indicators, the simplifiers—the head dress, the beards, the appearance—all indicate a particular group, associated with a particular culture. All this goes against the attempts by the U.S. administration to de-demonise Islam."

Bush's list, unveiled on Wednesday, smacked of the same kind of "Wild West" imagery as his vow to capture "Dead or Alive" the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the U.S. landmarks that killed more than 5,500....

Since so many of those appearing on Wednesday's "most wanted terrorists" posters—which offer a $5 million reward—were Arab in appearance and all had Muslim names, many Arabs and Muslims fear they will now become targets of racial attacks....

Analysts say anti-U.S. sentiment could harden following the release of the posters and the continuing military strikes on Muslim Afghanistan for harbouring bin Laden.

Surely white Christians could make a U.S. most-wanted list?

"Why pick on Arabs? Are there no South Americans, Irish, Serbs, Japanese among the most wanted? This will increase the bitterness people here feel against the West," Hussein Amin, a writer on Islamic affairs and former Egyptian ambassador to Algeria, told Reuters.

Alice Walker, again. Berkeley's Daily Californian reports on a rally in support of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who cast the lone dissenting vote against military action, October 22, 2001:
Walker compared the U.S. government to her recent 10-day fast in Hawaii.

"Just as we need to examine the contents of our own colons, we need to examine the contents of our government," she said.

Be wary of the "stuff" the government is made of, the acclaimed author cautioned those in the crowd.

"If you swallow just one lie from the government, it will ruin your day," she said.


Another conspiracy theory, this one advanced by Alexander Cockburn in the New York Press, October 10, 2001:
Ken McCarthy, our CounterPunch man in Tallahassee, writes the following thought-provoking note:

"FACTS: 1. The man who died of Anthrax last week was a photo editor at The Sun, a tabloid. 2. A fellow employee there has been recently diagnosed with Anthrax as well. 3. Inhaled Anthrax, the type these men have contracted, is exceedingly rare (only 18 cases in the US in the last 100 years) 4. Anthrax spores have been found in their workplace. The building which houses The Sun, The Globe and The National Enquirer has been closed as a result. 5. American Media Inc., the owner of The Sun etc., has connections to the US Central Intelligence Agency. 5. Boca Raton, the home of The Sun, is also the location of a plant owned by Product Ingredient Technologies, a company with links to the Bush Sr. White House that manufactured chemical warfare agents that were exported to Iraq with US government approval in the late 1980s."

Ken cites as his source Bringing the War Home by William Thomas. Under that same program, 19 containers of anthrax bacteria were supplied to Iraq in 1988 by the American Type Culture Collection company, located near Fort Detrick, MD, the site of the U.S. Army's high-security germ warfare division.

Bioterror has been the media feeding frenzy of the week, as noted above, a scenario pushed by Attorney General John Ashcroft in an attempt to scare up support for his Anti-Terrorism Act....

Gore Vidal, in an interview with the New Statesman, October 15, 2001:
How we dare even prate about democracy is beyond me. Our form of democracy is bribery, on the highest scale. It's far worse than anything that occurred in the Roman empire, until the praetorian guard started to sell the principate. We're not a democracy, and we have absolutely nothing to give the world in the way of political ideas or political arrangements. God knows, the mention of justice is like a clove of garlic to Count Dracula.... I'm a true protest-ant, so I do protest at the ignorance. And that's my unpopular role, alas.


Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, October 18, 2001:
In these troubled times, might it be more appropriate to sing "God Bless America" or "America the Beautiful" instead of the "Star Spangled Banner," in which we refer to "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air"?

—Phyllis F. Leland

[Ed.: In a Globe op-ed on the same day, Ellen Goodman writes that in addition to being blood-drenched and bellicose, the National Anthem is simply too difficult to sing. Nonsense—it only requires a range of an octave and a half. Perhaps she should practice more. I rather like what it says about the United States that its anthem takes a bit of skill to perform. And can anyone imagine "America the Beautiful" opening a baseball game?]


After the airline industry was granted a $15 billion bailout for losses incurred as a result of the terrorist attacks, Amtrak asked for $3 billion in emergency funds, as compared with its annual revenues of $2 billion. In addition, the National Association of Railroad Passengers called on Congress to give Amtrak another $19 billion for high speed rail service. Amtrak's existing "high speed" rail service averages 66 mph between Boston and New York.

[Ed.: On average, for every dollar Amtrak collects in ticket fees, it incurs two dollars in costs. In November the Amtrak Reform Council, an independent congressional agency, concluded that Amtrak would not be financially self-sufficient by December 2002, as had been promised. This triggered a 1997 law requiring the railroad to submit plans to Congress on how to either restructure or liquidate itself. But the Senate passed an amendment to a defense-spending bill that bars Amtrak from spending any money even considering its own demise.]

San Diego State's Daily Aztec reports that Zewdalem Kebede, a native Ethiopian student and naturalized American citizen, was accused of "verbal harassment" after he criticized four Saudi students he overheard speaking in their native Arabic, gleeful about the September 11 attack and voicing regret it missed the White House. Kebede says he approached the Saudis and replied, in Arabic: "Guys, what you are talking is unfair. How do you feel happy when those 5,000 to 6,000 people are buried in two or three buildings? They are under the rubble or they became ash. And you are talking about the action of bin Laden and his group. You are proud of them. You should have to feel shame."

The Saudi students, who were not named because they are considered victims of a crime, filed a police complaint for harassment. Kebede was summoned before the Center for Student Rights where, after recounting the exchange, he was told "that future involvement in confronting members of the campus community in a manner that is found to be aggressive or abusive will result in severe disciplinary sanctions," also warning him to conduct himself "as a responsible member of the campus community in the future." Kebede was placed on probation.


George Monbiot in the Guardian, October 16, 2001:
There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. The magical appearance of the terrorists' luggage, passports and flight manual looks rather too good to be true. The dossier of "evidence" purporting to establish Bin Laden's guilt consists largely of supposition and conjecture. The ration packs being dropped on Afghanistan have no conceivable purpose other than to create the false impression that starving people are being fed. Even the anthrax scare looks suspiciously convenient. Just as the hawks in Washington were losing the public argument about extending the war to other countries, journalists start receiving envelopes full of bacteria, which might as well have been labelled "a gift from Iraq." This could indeed be the work of terrorists, who may have their own reasons for widening the conflict, but there are plenty of other ruthless operators who would benefit from a shift in public opinion.

[Ed.: A similar conspiracy theory, widely circulating throughout the Muslim world, asserts that Israel was behind the attack and that all Jews working in the World Trade Center were tipped off minutes in advance by telephone and thus given a chance to escape death, presumably not warning their thousands of non-Jewish colleagues. In a variation of the rumor, Jews simply didn't show up for work that day.]

Barbara Kingsolver, again, in the Los Angeles Times, October 14, 2001:
I feel like I'm standing on a playground where the little boys are all screaming at each other, "He started it!" and throwing rocks that keep taking out another eye, another tooth. I keep looking around for somebody's mother to come on the scene saying, "Boys! Boys! Who started it cannot possibly be the issue here. People are getting hurt."

I am somebody's mother, so I will say that now: The issue is, people are getting hurt.

[Ed.: There is much, much more, and it is simply a shame to abridge it. Kingsolver relates phoning a like-minded friend for support, and "we remind ourselves... that the last time we got to elect somebody, the majority of us, by a straight popular-vote count, did not ask for the guy who is currently telling us we will win this war and not be 'misunderestimated.' " (They certainly don't discuss the function of the Electoral College.) Kingsolver also lists several "alternatives to war," which include an end to corporate welfare and homelessness, a "humane health-care system" like Canada's, less energy consumption coupled with subsidies for renewable energy, signing the Kyoto agreement, adopting "a military budget the size of Iceland's," and building the "efficient public-transit system of Paris in my city," which for Kingsolver happens to be Tucson, Arizona.]


The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church released a statement urging believers to "wage reconciliation" rather than war, noting that "[t]he affluence of nations such as our own stands in stark contrast to other parts of the world wracked by crushing poverty which causes the death of 6,000 children in the course of a morning."

As part of numerous relief efforts, more than 75 celebrities gathered in Hollywood on September 23 to record a new patriotic version of the 1979 Sister Sledge disco hit "We Are Family." Proceeds from sales of the song will go to "the responsible outreach and educational work of credible, non-political, not-for-profit organizations that promote tolerance, combat misfortune, and defend the freedoms of all Americans."

A question for the head of the Airline Pilots Association from Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show, September 26, 2001:
Let's take hijacking and potential crimes out of this for a second, and I know you say you don't want to dwell on [a] worst case scenario, but pilots are human beings. They get depressed, they get suicidal, they get angry. If they're armed, isn't that a formula for disaster?

[Ed.: One man threw a fit after he was denied permission to board a Northwest flight to Minneapolis from the Rapid City Regional Airport until he relinquished his nail scissors and clippers. The man was, in fact, the pilot of the airplane, and there were no exceptions to the strict new security rules.]

More from the blame-everyone-but-those-responsible front. Interviewing the Rev. Jerry Falwell on the "700 Club" television show, the Rev. Pat Robertson said: "We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And then we say 'Why does this happen?' " Falwell responded that "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, 'You have helped this happen.' " The Rev. Robertson responded, "I totally concur."

Robertson later apologized for the exchange, calling Falwell's remarks "intemperate and inappropriate." However, Robertson later told an audience of 1,000 in Virginia Beach that "[t]he Lord is getting ready to shake this nation. We have not yet seen his judgement on America. ... This thing that happened in New York was child's play compared with what's going to happen."


In Great Britain, the words of Edward Elgar's rousing anthem, "Land of Hope and Glory," to be performed at the annual Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, have been rewritten in response to criticism from teacher's union members that in a time of war, the traditional version is too jingoistic. The traditional version reads:
Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider and still wider
Shall thy bounds be set;
God who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet!
The revised version reads:
Music and our voices
Unite us all as one,
Let our sound be mighty,
Sung by everyone.
Deeper still and deeper
Shall our bounds be set,
Bring our world together,
Make us closer yet.


The day of the terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials stopped an Amtrak train in Providence that was on its way from Boston to New York after receiving reports that suspicious men were aboard who were possibly involved.

Among the several men questioned was Sher J.B. Singh, a 28-year-old network design consultant and a Sikh. Male members of the Sikh religion, often mistaken for Arabs, wear turbans, have beards, and often carry a kirpan, a 6-inch-long sheathed ceremonial sword. A search turned up such a weapon strapped to Mr. Singh's chest, and after hours of questioning he was charged with misdemeanor possession of a concealed weapon before being released on personal recognizance. Rhode Island law prohibits concealed knives with blades longer than 3 inches.

Singh said he was disappointed the police did not drop the charge. His attorney, Mark Laroche, said: "I thought there would be more tolerance of diversity, especially considering that Providence was founded on principles of religious freedom." Laroche said that he would argue the state law interferes with Singh's constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion. The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union indicated that it will support Singh's case, he said.

[Ed.: Upholding its zero-tolerance weapons policy, the province of Quebec later challenged the right of twelve-year-old Gurbaj Singh to carry his dagger to school as he had since the age of five, even fully concealed and sheathed as a court had allowed. In fact, if you're twelve and your name is Gurbaj, no amount of protection will do.]


In Ohio, Aaron Petitt went to court to overturn his suspension from Fairview High School. He alleges that after he hung patriotic posters on his locker, including one that depicts an eagle shedding a tear over the burning World Trade Center, "Associate Principal James Haughtaling said the signs were inappropriate and could offend Middle Eastern students," as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Berkeley, again. The Berkeley City Council passed a resolution condemning U.S. military action against Afghanistan. "Berkeley has always been an island of sanity in terms of the war madness that has prevailed in this country," commented City Council member Dona Spring, who sponsored the measure. "The U.S. is now a terrorist. According to the Taliban these are terrorist attacks." (Ms. Spring claims the latter quote was taken out of context, but the Daily Californian stands by its accuracy.)

Another council member, Kriss Worthington, said that Spring's proposal played into the negative image of the city some refer to as "Berserkeley," but that this was not necessarily a bad thing since it benefitted the local economy. "Tourists come to Berkeley because of all the attention the bastion of liberalism generates," Worthington said. Perhaps the following exchange at a Berkeley peace rally, reported by the Oakland Tribune, can be explained as a civic-minded effort to attract tourists: "Another [student], favoring peace [sic], said in the heat of argument, 'Look, it's not like they attacked the U.S.' 'They did,' a pro-USA student replied. 'Uh, oh yeah, they did,' the other said, flashing an embarrassed grin."

As a result of Berkeley's vote against military action, it appears the city, which routinely boycotts companies and nations it disapproves of, may now find itself the target of a boycott.

[Ed.: In December, the City Council voted to provide information on how to obtain conscientious objector status for those hoping to avoid military service, despite the fact that America has for many years had an all-volunteer military.]

TorchPac, a Jewish student organization at New York University, is considering whether to file a complaint against another campus group, the Arab Students United, after Nadeen Al-jijakli, head of the group, forwarded an e-mail message to other members blaming the terrorist attacks on American support of Israel, which supposedly furthers "worldwide Jewish Supremacism." The message was an article written by former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon David Duke. "If I had known his history I would not have sent it out," Al-jijakli said. "I feel like the article is valid. I don't feel like whether the article is anti-Semitic is something I need to explain."


Richard Goldstein in the Village Voice, October 9, 2001:
Consider the most immediate impact of the new conformity: the collapse of difference. Suddenly it seems like an act of impiety to point out that, in the phalanx of police and firefighters surrounding Giuliani on Saturday Night Live, there was hardly a black face to be seen. Or that, in the spectrum of opinion following this awful event, women were barely heard from, and so we were deprived of their perspective on the crisis. With some exceptions... female writers showed a far greater willingness to come to complex conclusions than their more powerful male colleagues. If women were fully included in the national dialogue, it wouldn't be such a monologue. We might be able to process our feelings without sedating the culture (and diminishing its capacity to spark new insights).


In a conversation with Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker, October 8, 2001, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) gives her own perspective:
We talked about possible responses to the attack, and then I asked her how she thought people would react to knowing that they are on the receiving end of a murderous anger.

"Oh, I am well aware that it is out there. One of the most difficult experiences that I personally had in the White House was during the health-care debate, being the object of extraordinary rage. I remember being in Seattle. I was there to make a speech about health care. This was probably August of '94. Radio talk-show hosts had urged their listeners to come out and yell and scream and carry on and prevent people from hearing me speak. There were threats that were coming in, and certain people didn't want me to speak, and they started taking weapons off people, and arresting people. I've had firsthand looks at this unreasoning anger and hatred that is focussed on an individual you don't know, a cause that you despise—whatever motivates people."

[Ed.: As for her husband, the New York Times reports: "Several people who know Mr. Clinton said he could not help but lament that he was not in the thick of the action.... A close friend of Mr. Clinton put it this way: 'He has said there has to be a defining moment in a presidency that really makes a great presidency. He didn't have one.' " Mr. Clinton also confided to Paul McCartney's girlfriend that he would do a better job at combating terrorists than President Bush, since he had more experience at it, or something to that effect.]

"We've got to make sure that these are temporary measures that boost the economy now but don't have long term effects," said Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) regarding economic stimulus measures following the attack on America.

Katha Pollitt in the Nation, October 8, 2001:
My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the World Trade Center, thinks we should fly an American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. She tells me I'm wrong—the flag means standing together and honoring the dead and saying no to terrorism. In a way we're both right: The Stars and Stripes is the only available symbol right now.... It has to bear a wide range of meanings, from simple, dignified sorrow to the violent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry that has already resulted in murder, vandalism and arson around the country and harassment on New York City streets and campuses.

[Ed.: Pollitt told her 13-year-old daughter she could buy a flag with her own money and fly it out of her bedroom window, but the living room is off-limits. There is much more. "I've never been one to blame the United States for every bad thing that happens in the Third World," says Pollitt, and proceeds to blame America for creating the Taliban by aiding Muslim rebels during prior Soviet occupation. Pollitt says: "There's a story in here about the attraction Afghan hypermasculinity holds for desk-bound modern men. How lovely not to pay lip service to women's equality! It's cowboys and Indians, with harems thrown in." She wonders: "What would happen if the West took seriously the forces in the Muslim world who call for education, social justice, women's rights, democracy, civil liberties and secularism?" But Pollitt does not identify who, what, or where these forces are.]


University of California linguistics professor George Lakoff, author of the Gulf War-era text Metaphor and War, in, an online journal devoted to research of "metaphor and metonymy":
Control Is Up: You have control over the situation, you're on top of things. This has always been an important basis of towers as symbols of power. In this case, the toppling of the towers meant loss of control, loss of power.

Phallic imagery: Towers are symbols of phallic power and their collapse reinforces the idea of loss of power.

Another kind of phallic imagery was more central here. The planes as penetrating the towers with a plume of heat. The pentagon, a vaginal image from the air, penetrated by the plane as missile....

The reaction of the Bush administration is just what you would expect a conservative reaction would be—pure Strict Father morality: There is evil loose in the world. We must show our strength and wipe it out. Retribution and vengeance are called for. If there are "casualties" or "collateral damage," so be it.

The reaction from liberals and progressives has been far different: Justice is called for, not vengeance. Understanding and restraint are what is needed. The model for our actions should be the rescue workers and doctors—the healers—not the bombers.

We should not be like them, we should not take innocent lives in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Massive bombing of Afghanistan—with the killing of innocents—will show that we are no better than they.

But it has been the administration's conservative message that has dominated the media. The event has been framed in their terms. As Newt Gingrich put it on the Fox Network, "Retribution is justice."

We must reframe the discussion. Susan Bales reminds us of Gandhi's words: Be the change you want. The words apply to governments as well as to individuals.


Jonnelle Davis of North Carolina's Chapel Hill News reports on a proposal to allow recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance among elementary school students in one public school, October 3, 2001:
McDougle Elementary PTA co-president Pat Lewis said she has no personal objection to the pledge being recited in school, but she wants the school to take into consideration the feelings of those parents who might. Lewis said 25 percent of the student body were non-white students, some of whom might not be receptive to reciting the pledge.

"That's a quarter of our students who come from varied backgrounds, and we have to be tolerant," Lewis said.

[Ed.: In the wake of the terrorist attacks, many parents and students had been gathering informally on the school steps to recite the pledge.]

Fredric Jameson in the London Review of Books, as part of its response to the September 11 attacks, October 4, 2001:
I have been reluctant to comment on the recent "events" because the event in question, as history, is incomplete and one can even say that it has not yet fully happened.

Obviously there are immediate comments one can make, in particular on the nauseating media reception, whose cheap pathos seemed unconsciously dictated by a White House intent on smothering the situation in sentiment in order to demonstrate the undemonstrable: namely, that "Americans are united as never before since Pearl Harbor." I suppose this means that they are united by the fear of saying anything that contradicts this completely spurious media consensus....

The physical extermination of the Iraqi and the Indonesian Communist Parties, although now historically repressed and forgotten, were crimes as abominable as any contemporary genocide. It is, however, only now that the results are working their way out into actuality, for the resultant absence of any Left alternative means that popular revolt and resistance in the Third World have nowhere to go but into religious and "fundamentalist" forms.

Thomas Laqueur, writing in the same issue:
[P]erhaps a more positive engagement with history could be considered. What if we took the 40 billion dollars that we are spending fixing up New York, the 20 billion that are being readied to bail out bankrupt airlines, and the untold billions we will be spending on the upcoming war, and divided some big chunk of it among the Palestinians and the Israelis to build an infrastructure for peace. That amount would buy lots of desalination plants, schools, and maybe some of the less hardline settlers as well. It would at least buy new houses for the uprooted. And a few billion more for the children in Iraq who have suffered from the boycott which has left their dictator in place but them hungry and sick. And maybe a few more billion for Pakistan, where the most desperate poverty has driven many to sympathise with a radically anti-progressive view. Anything but stale rhetoric from John Wayne movies.
Mary Beard, ditto:
[W]hen the shock had faded, more hard-headed reaction set in. This wasn't just the feeling that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming. That is, of course, what many people openly or privately think. World bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.

But there is also the feeling that all the "civilised world" (a phrase which Western leaders seem able to use without a trace of irony) is paying the price for its glib definitions of "terrorism" and its refusal to listen to what the "terrorists" have to say. There are very few people on the planet who devise carnage for the sheer hell of it. They do what they do for a cause; because they are at war. We might not like their cause; but using the word "terrorism" as an alibi for thinking what drives it will get us nowhere in stopping the violence. Similarly, "fanaticism", a term regularly applied to extraordinary acts of bravery when we abhor their ends and means. The silliest description of the onslaught on the World Trade Center was the often repeated slogan that it was a "cowardly" attack.


Sunera Thobani, women's studies professor at the University of British Columbia, speaking at the Women's Resistance Conference in Ottawa, October 1, 2001:
This new war against terrorism that's being launched, it's very old. And it's a very old fight of the West against the rest. Consider the language which is being used to mobilize people: calling the perpetrators evil doers, irrational, calling them the forces of darkness, uncivilized, intent on destroying civilization, intent on destroying democracy. They hate freedoms, we are told....

Every person of colour, and I would want to say also, every aboriginal person, will recognize that language. It was used to justify our colonialization by Europe. We were colonized in the name of the West bringing civilization, democracy, freedom to us....

[Women must] reject this kind of jingoistic militarism and recognize that as the most heinous form of patriarchal racist violence that we're seeing on the globe today.... The women's movement has to stand up to this. There is no option for us. We have to fight back against this militarization. We have to break the support that is being built in our countries for this kind of attack.... The West for 500 years has believed that it can slaughter people into submission and it has not been able to do so. And it will not be able to do so this time, either.

[Ed.: Thobani received a standing ovation from many in the audience at the time, only to be followed by a nationwide furor and at least one official complaint that she had engaged in a hate crime against Americans.]


It had to happen. Following a highly publicized series of hate crimes directed against Muslims in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United States, the inevitable hoax has surfaced.

Arizona State University junior Ahmad Saad Nasim, 23, confessed that he lied when he said he had earlier been beaten by a group of assailants who uttered racial epithets. The political science major admitted perpetuating the hoax after he was found lying inside a locked bathroom stall in the university's library, apparently attempting to fake another hate crime.

The initial hoaxed report received widespread national attention, and caused over 50 Muslim students to leave the ASU campus. Nasim followed up by writing a letter to the student newspaper. "Many of you e-mailed to show your support, gave online get well cards and many kind messages that made me burst into tears," he wrote. "My physical injuries will take time to wither away. But you Sun Devils have certainly taken care of the emotional pains I had." Bewildered friends said that Nasim had showed every sign of being an earnest activist on issues of multicultural tolerance.


Former Time magazine correspondent Nina Burleigh in a commentary posted on, September 12, 2001:
Rather than seek the ideas of young, and possibly female, experts with new ideas, Washington Post op-editors give column inches to Nixon administration Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Nixon speechwriter George Will. The Post editors are apparently time-warped by the soothing sounds [of] the failed patriarchs of the past: Former Nixon advisor Donald Rumsfeld, and former Nixon administration bureaucrat Dick Cheney, our Vice President 'in charge of the government,' as network television reassuringly put it, while President Bush officially went missing when Manhattan's towers crumbled.

NPR's Nina Totenberg on "Inside Washington," September 22, 2001:
We have gone through, I think, a kind of, what I would call a silly season, of thinking that there is really no need for a federal government, when in fact the federal government fought the Civil War, solved the Great Depression, fought the First and Second World Wars, won the Cold War. And now we're going... to find out why we are not just a loose confederation of states, but a republic and a federal national government and that's what this period is for.

Yet more trivialization. After the city of St. Paul, Minnesota opened a new $39 million bus garage, it hired grief counselors to console employees who felt an emotional attachment to the older facility.

While supporting military retaliation against terrorists, congressional supporters of a proposal to create a cabinet-level "Department of Peace" insist that such an agency might have prevented the attack from occurring.

"Does it occur to anybody that all of this [defense and intelligence] machinery has failed totally to prepare us for the way the world is now?" asked Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), a co-sponsor of the Peace Department legislation, which was introduced in July. "Only now are we trying to figure out what is Islam. Maybe if there was a Department of Peace, they would be able to say, 'Uh-oh, we've got some problems with these people,' " Abercrombie continued. "I truly believe that if we had a Department of Peace, we would have seen this coming."

"I think we need to redetermine the conditions that ultimately create war," Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said, suggesting that the Peace Department would, among other things, explore the "causes" of conflict "while recognizing there are some [who hate the U.S.] who can't be changed."