Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

rhetoric

[ed note: i didn't participate in any of the discussions around 'v for vendetta' when it came out, because i hadn't seen the film yet. so i have no idea if this is something that's been churned up and beat to death. new to me, and i really want to share.]

there's a bit in the times about al qaeda-related websites and their choices of invective yesterday. maybe it's just because i finally watched 'v for vendetta' the other day, but i felt a sudden tweak in my perspective when i read these paragraphs...

With God’s help and yours, let us make the fifth anniversary of the events of Sept. 11 the beginning of a boycott of all Zionist-American products that are sold in Arab and Muslim countries. Many continue to buy these products despite all they see and hear about the killing, torture and destruction that Muslims are faced with due to the Crusader and Zionist-American war. Let us boycott these products because we do not need them, nor are they to be considered absolute necessities. Here is a list of the companies and products that should be boycotted: Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Nike, Mars, McDonald’s ... “Pepsi” stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.”
...
In the name of God the merciful and the compassionate, Monday morning is the fifth anniversary of the glorious attacks on New York and Washington accomplished by the 19 heroes of the Muslim community — may God have mercy on them and raise them to the highest rank for their sacrifice. They pressed America’s nose into the ground and allowed the whole world to witness the destruction of its economic and military citadels. In so doing, they crushed the myth with which America had terrorized the world, namely that it was the greatest power on earth and no one was strong enough to confront, let alone make an enemy, of it.
...
Hunger, disease, thirst and regional wars instigated by poverty all stem from the greed of the West, its thirst for plunder and desire to control the world’s wealth. These in turn lead to a rate of destruction every year that equals the destruction World War II effected over six years.

The mercenaries who dominate the World Trade Organization ... the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ...the bloodsuckers of the world’s poor, the immiserators of nations and the thieves, murderers, shedders of blood: these are the ones who control the international political system. They are the ones who spread their armies throughout the world, terrorizing and stealing the wealth of nations while enslaving them. They are the ones who are exterminating the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and other places. They are the ones who ally themselves to the despotic rulers in order to suck the blood of the people, using companies that are owned by the leaders of their countries and headed by murderers and criminals.

as a progressive and some-time activist american, with my head tuned to a frequency that worries about fascist regimes and totalitarian tendencies, i do of course harbor the thought that a revolution may some day be necessary if americans wish to maintain current levels of certain freedoms that we have at this time.

conversely, as a woman trained in non-violent conflict-resolution and confrontation, and as a human who aspires to live and tout a pure version of pacifism, i would wish to avoid destruction of life in all situations, and the destruction of property as well if possible.

so i wonder...

-at what point is violence justified against a repressive or power-hungry nation?

-isn't economic domination a crime worth punishing, as much as physical domination?

-what about the proliferation of a destructive cultural hegemony?

-can we, as observers from within the dominating power, ever see clearly what is or is not justifiable?

-can we even see what steps we would need to take to get to a place where we could objectively observe the situation?

-if the attacks on new york had brought about shifts in foreign policy such that the uS became more of a nation that i, my peers, and the world as a whole could respect, would the attacks have been considered justified?

-could such a shift ever happen, though, when most forms of rebellion are called terrorism and therefore looked on as actions that cannot be yielded to?

-what is the line between terrorism and revolution, if revolutionaries are necessarily pushed towards 'terrorist' acts since they are otherwise powerless?

-what is the critical mass of opinion and participation that would make acts of destruction or violence valid in the eyes of the world theatre?

-how is the acceptable critical mass different if the participants are citizens of the nation in question, or if they're citizens of a repressed country?

i was in new york the morning of the attack. i was spending my summer as a resident of the east coast. i've been grateful since that day that i was there that summer, since it meant that i was able to observe the event through the lens of a person much closer to the impacts of the event than if i'd just been a liberal hippie californian. i've been grateful that i was able to get as upset and angry as i did, and that the event made me question my pacifism. no one i knew on the east coast that summer was untouched, and the violence and destruction that resulted from the event were devastating.

but...

but?

but.

Comments:
most excellent questions. i have a full response here:
http://www.amyleblanc.com/index.php?id=P1727

but to address one of your questions here directly:
i am having trouble visualizing how the US could have resonded militarily to 9/11 in a way that would have made the world as a whole respect us more, therefore i cannot answer it. what i can imagine is that, if the talking heads of the US government would have, for one.single.second. taken even the smallest amount of responsibility for what happened, then we would have gained some respect. and, of course, if the US would have changed their foreign policies for the better, OTHER nations might have justified the event, but i do not see how any american who suffered through that day could ever honestly in their hearts believe that action was justified, regardless of outcome. ever. myself included.

the actions taken in V for Vendetta? justified, and obviously had the intended result - perhaps because no one innocent died. the terrorism of 9/11? while logically i can justify it theoretically - the taking of a couple thousand innocent american lives in exchange for a sobering effect on the entire nation, an action that caused millions who had been sleepwalking to wake the fuck up and do something about a war and a problem that has been going on for decades and had already taken tens of thousands of lives elsewhere - the end result thus far has only been more terror and war, which leads me to believe my original conclusion will always be true: war only breeds more war, and nothing else. it is utterly amazing to me that our political leaders are unwilling to break it for so many selfish reasons, mostly financial, and that we keep electing them.
 
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