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Have We Humbled Yet?

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

September 11, 2012

By Perry Redd

I wrote a commentary over a decade ago; as a matter of fact, 11 years to the day: September 11, 2001.  I wrote on what has become, an on-going theme: the arrogance of America.  I said, “Today, America’s arrogance was rectified.”

Suffice it to say, I was lambasted and attacked as being un-patriotic, un-American and even, treasonous.  On the day of the attacks, I watched in disbelief with my co-workers at Whirlpool Corporation in Knoxville, Tennessee.  As others hefted blame on “those Middle Eastern terrorists,” I advised my co-workers to look elsewhere…inward.

Since that fateful day, we’ve learned a lot about our country, our government and ourselves.  We’ve witnessed America go from anger, to fear, to deliberation, then to growth.  It took years for the facts of the matter to leak out and expose our culpability.  It took years before blind loyalty turned into outright dissent.  It took years before the outright lies told to us by our trusted leaders turned our scrutiny into rightful skepticism and cynicism.  It took years before we came to the point where we realized that America is not always in the right.

During the Democratic convention last week, I surprisingly heard the term “American Exceptionalism.”  Coming from the more liberal side of the aisle is unusual, but then I realized, that’s an American thing. The Democrat that made that statement then tempered it with the reality that others are exceptional too.  That we’re in serious competition for an exceptionalism that places one in the top position in the food chain.  I am of that mind.  We cannot run roughshod over others and expect that they will not respond in-kind.

My commentary from this day 11 years ago looked like this:

September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy…I can live this life and say for sure that there was a day that I will never forget. Some recall where they were when events commenced: Pearl Harbor or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (or for African-Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr.). The September 11th Attack on America is one of those incidents. But there’s a factor that makes this event almost as disturbing than the event itself. The point I contend is that this event could have been avoided…

I am committed to telling the truth: Today, America’s arrogance was rectified; it’s vulnerability, exposed. American’s were, for lack of better words—stunned. There was, I believe, a most significant event leading up to this tragedy and massive loss. After last week’s walk-out at the Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, to address Racism by America and Israel, this episode of retaliation was a time bomb waiting to happen.

Taking the view of the Black Radical Congress, it is without question that US imperialism has brought genocidal levels of death and destruction to people around the world. Whether one looks at the situation in Iraq with the continual blockade and air bombardments, the situation in Palestine where the US continues to give virtually uncritical support to the Israelis in their national oppression of the Palestinians, the economic blockade against Cuba which aims to undermine its economy and weaken its population, or any number of other places, one clearly sees the callousness and evil intent with which US imperialism treats the lives and property of others, especially non-white peoples around the globe.

Yet, even with a firm understanding of the causes of this act of desperation, fury, and hatred of US imperialism, turning to terrorism to fight global oppression and exploitation is not an acceptable strategy.

Looking back, in retrospect, I can say with all confidence, that I was right.  The imperialist strategy hasn’t worked for us—especially, the poor and working class of this country.  The economy has worsened—for working class Americans, war contractors stole the Iraq money and Republicans didn’t even invite the architects of their response to 9/11 to their own convention this year!  There was no Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or even “Scooter” Libby. No Colin Powell…

We are still fighting the “war on terror.”  Like the unwelcomed house guest who won’t leave, the Afghans want us out of their country and show it in the form of IEDs.  Though the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden (at least that’s what they tell us), the body didn’t die. Even though we kill another al-Qaeda #2, we can’t seem to locate the #3. We’re still in the process of pulling our troops out of two U.S. occupied nations, as our country attacks teachers who care for the knowledge of our children.  We keep spending money for war, but want to pull money for teachers, firefighters and policemen.

We haven’t even completed the new World Trade Center memorial site. No progress has been made in the Israel-Palestine saga as the United States continues to back an even more racist and invading occupying policy than 11 years ago.

Americans have grown tired of the drama, but has America humbled itself? At least, this year, there was no terror alert.  Maybe the terrorists weren’t after us after all? It’s such a shame it took us 11 years to figure that out.  How about the rest of it?

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