an attack on freedom
It’s not 13:46 as I write this, but it will be when I publish this to the web, just before a minute’s silence.
Where was I at 08:46, New York time, on September 11, 2001?
It was 13:46 local time in Dublin, and I was out of the office at a training company, on a Linux course. It was lunch time, I was reading my private email on one the PCs there, and drinking coffee. We went back into class at 14:00, but not for long, as the news broke about the events in New York and Washington. It was very difficult to get any information, since we had no TV or radio, only the Internet, and that was understandably log-jammed after 9AM EST. We didn’t get any more work done that afternoon. When I got home at about 6PM (13:00 EST), I turned on Sky News, which carried non-stop coverage.
This morning I wrote the following, in response to a respectful message board thread on the User Friendly site.
Speaking as another Brit, but living in Ireland, it appears to me that US Culture, as I’ve seen in the USA, has room in it for many cultures to coexist. For example, there is a flourishing Muslim community in the USA. The majority were equally shocked by the events of a year ago, and senior Imams took part in the memorial ceremonies immediately afterwards, if you recall. So how can people talk of American Cultural Imperialism being imposed on the world, if there is no such thing applied to US Citizens beyond the pledge of allegiance, which is gladly taken by all cultures? There has been some persecution of Muslims and Arabs in the USA, but I hope that the nature of USA society means that it won’t last.
Would the same be true of other countries? Moscow has gangs of Neo-Nazis roaming the streets, attacking anyone who isn’t Russian-looking. Ireland is some way behind the USA in the multiculturalism game, but again, a year ago, the main memorial ceremonies were attended by all the major faiths. Despite the Catholic bias of the main state broadcaster, Rosh Hashanah was celebrated here too yesterday on TV. Eid-al-Fitr was also covered at the time. I wonder how much coverage Rosh Hashanah received in Saudi Arabia, or Iraq?
I’m not a fan of Dubya, but the words he spoke hardly belonged to him alone. He wasn’t exaggerating to call the terrorist attacks an attack on freedom, because they were basically indiscriminate. The buildings were in the USA, but the people killed were from all the world’s cultures, including Muslim. When I visited New York in May 2001, I went up the WTC, dined at Lebanese, Thai and other international restaurants, and had a Halaal Big King at the Burger King at Church & Liberty, a restaurant that was destroyed one year ago today.
The choice of the World Trade Centre was hardly an accident either – it was a symbol of free trade and capitalism. The business that went on there covered the whole world, including the Middle East, and was considered capitalist imperialism because the people there worked towards free trade. If Moscow, Beijing or Riyadh want to have McDonalds, because the people there demand them, I agree that that is hardly Cultural Imperialism. Neither is capitalism being forced on anybody – long-term cultural experiments have shown that people want to own things, to Trade with the aim of making a profit, and that they gravitate towards such a system in the absence of control imposed from above. Which makes sense, since the US government has never imposed capitalism on its people.
What do I know, eh? Still, no-one has told me how to feel about these things – this is my genuine opinion, regardless of what the world media tries to tell me. I hope you’ll all accept my thoughts, and best wishes for the future, on this memorial day.
No doubt I’ll receive replies calling my views simplistic or colonialist. I thought I had found all the typos, but the version on the UF site still has a few. It happens.