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Pique N' Your Interest

Two years later

Two years later and I still get a nauseous feeling when I think of Sept. 11, and remember the morning I woke up to the solemn voice of a radio announcer informing me that the World Trade Center towers were gone.

I bounded out of bed that and turned on the television. CNN. Sure enough, I heard right – I watched one tower fall, and then the other.

There were reports of another plane striking the Pentagon, and another plane that was missing. Early reports estimated that tens of thousands could have been killed.

I’ve never experienced a moment like that before, a rip in the fabric of everyday life that would change the world for forever. I’ve never lived through a Pearl Harbour, the assassination of a Kennedy, or a fall of Saigon.

There have been wars of course, so many it’s hard to remember them all. There have been genocides, mass murders, famines, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and tragedy upon tragedy beyond my comprehension. But an event like Sept. 11 is different. It was a horror that came out of the blue, and shook the foundations of everything we may have believed about the world. It was a wake up call, and a call to arms. Another age of innocence and naïvity came to an end.

Two years later I found myself standing in the rain with Whistler’s firefighters and police officers as they performed a short, but dignified remembrance of Sept. 11, and the sacrifice made by so many of their brothers and sisters in uniform on that fateful day.

It was the first time in a long while that I’d focused on the real victims of this tragedy. Like many, I’ve been too caught up in the so-called War on Terror, the lies and the damned lies used to justify everything from the use of cluster bombs to the shredding of environmental laws, to stand and remember the people in those buildings and on those planes, and the sorrow of the day.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, I just didn’t buy the U.S. administration’s claims that the terrorists attacked America because they hate freedom and liberty.

I bit my lip when President Bush announced "a new kind of war" on terror, one that could cover the globe and that might never end.

I rolled my eyes when Mr. Bush created a new Department of Homeland Security to spy on Americans, and which always seems to issue orange high-risk alerts whenever the President is having a tough time in Congress or public opinion.

I cringed when Henry Kissinger, a man who many believe should be hanged for his crimes against humanity, was named – albeit briefly – to head up a Congressional investigation into the many security failures in the years and months leading up to 9/11.

So I did some research. For people who were determined to look a little deeper into the issues, there was no shortage of editorials and articles out there offering a vastly different view of events – including some historical facts and nuances that the mainstream media were avoiding out of fear of being branded as traitors by an administration and public that was out for revenge.

In my humble opinion – and I like to think it’s an educated opinion after two years of reading and research – almost everything that has happened since Sept. 11 is an affront to the memory of the victims.

Just as hundreds of relatives of 9/11 victims gathered to protest the war in Iraq chanting the slogan "Not In My Name", I also question how the war on terror does anything to honour the fallen and break the circle of violence that’s spinning out of control.

Somewhere between five and eight times as many innocent civilians have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq as died on Sept. 11. Are their lives somehow worth less than the dead in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania?

Two years of war haven’t made a dent in terror. Osama bin Laden is still at large and sending regular messages to a growing legion of followers. Terrorists are more active in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Israel, Iraq and around the globe since the War on Terror began.

Meanwhile, governments and regimes around the world have embraced the American War on Terror (WoT) as a justification to crack down on dissidents in their own countries. Israel is using the WoT to crack down on Palestinians. Saudi leaders are using the WoT to keep their corrupt monarchy in power, stifling dissent in that nation. The Columbian government is using WoT to crack down on the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is using WoT to crack down on Basque separatists. Turkey is using WoT to crack down on Kurds. The Russians are using WoT to crack down on the Chechens. The Indonesian government is using the WoT to crack down on the Free Aceh Movement. The Phillipines are using WoT to take out Islamic separatists in the southern Moro region. Mexican President Vincente Fox is using the WoT to battle the Zapatistas. Even the Chinese government has gotten into the swing of things, using WoT to justify actions against Falun Gong and Tibet.

Attacking Iraq – just about the only Middle East country that didn’t have any proven connection to al Qaeda or the Sept. 11 hijackings – makes less sense every day. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, and no link to terrorism has been uncovered. A country we were told was yearning for democracy has deteriorated into chaos.

Two years later, the world is not a safer place. It’s not a kinder place, a gentler place, a freer or more democratic place, a more prosperous place, or a more peaceful and united place.

And all of this and more has been done in the name of the victims of Sept. 11.

They have become the justification for war, murder and mayhem around the globe. They are the excuse used by governments worldwide to crack down on separatists and rival political parties.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times points out that the Bush government has exploited 9/11 by using it to justify everything from drilling for oil in Alaska, to gutting environmental laws, to tax cuts, to unemployment, to budget deficits, to resisting campaign finance reforms.

Sept. 11, a day of sorrow and reflection, is becoming a day of cynicism, turning more pain and suffering into more pain and suffering. It’s time to take the day back for whom it really belongs.

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