I was supposed to fly today on the 4:30 PM
American Airlines flight from LAX to JFK. But tonight I find myself
stuck in L.A. with an incredible range of emotions over what has
happened on the island where I work and live in New York City.
My wife and I spent the first hours of the day —
after being awakened by phone calls from our parents at 6:40 a.m. PT
— trying to contact our daughter at school in New York and our
friend JoAnn who works near the World Trade Center.
I called JoAnn at her office. As someone picked
up, the first tower imploded, and the person answering the phone
screamed and ran out, leaving me no clue as to whether or not she or
JoAnn would live.
It was a sick, horrible, frightening day.
On December 27, 1985 I found myself caught in the
middle of a terrorist incident at the Vienna airport — which left 30
people dead, both there and at the Rome airport. (The
machine-gunning of passengers in each city was timed to occur at the
I do not feel like discussing that event tonight
because it still brings up too much despair and confusion as to how
and why I got to live… a fluke, a mistake, a few feet on the tarmac,
and I am still here, there but for the grace of…
Safe. Secure. I’m an American, living in America.
I like my illusions. I walk through a metal detector, I put my
carry-ons through an x-ray machine, and I know all will be well.
Here’s a short list of my experiences lately with
* At the Newark Airport, the plane is late at
boarding everyone. The counter can’t find my seat. So I am told to
just “go ahead and get on” — without a ticket!
* At Detroit Metro Airport, I don’t want to put
the lunch I just bought at the deli through the x-ray machine so,
as I pass through the metal detector, I hand the sack to the guard
through the space between the detector and the x-ray machine. I
tell him “It’s just a sandwich.” He believes me and doesn’t bother
to check. The sack has gone through neither security device.
* At LaGuardia in New York, I check a piece of
luggage, but decide to catch a later plane. The first plane leaves
without me, but with my bag — no one knowing what is in it.
* Back in Detroit, I take my time getting off
the commuter plane. By the time I have come down its stairs, the
bus that takes the passengers to the terminal has left — without
me. I am alone on the tarmac, free to wander wherever I want. So I
do. Eventually, I flag down a pick-up truck and an airplane
mechanic gives me a ride the rest of the way to the terminal.
* I have brought knives, razors; and once, my
traveling companion brought a hammer and chisel. No one stopped
Of course, I have gotten away with all of this
because the airlines consider my safety so important, they
pay rent-a-cops $5.75 an hour to make sure the bad guys don’t get on
my plane. That is what my life is worth — less than the cost of an
Too harsh, you say? Well, chew on this: a
first-year pilot on American Eagle (the commuter arm of American
Airlines) receives around $15,000 a year in annual pay.
That’s right — $15,000 for the person who has your
life in his hands. Until recently, Continental Express paid a little
over $13,000 a year. There was one guy, an American Eagle pilot, who
had four kids so he went down to the welfare office and applied for
food stamps — and he was eligible!
Someone on welfare is flying my plane? Is this for
real? Yes, it is.
So spare me the talk about all the precautions the
airlines and the FAA is taking. They, like all businesses, are
concerned about one thing — the bottom line and the profit margin.
Four teams of 3-5 people were all able to
penetrate airport security on the same morning at 3 different
airports and pull off this heinous act? My only response is — that’s
Well, the pundits are in full diarrhea mode,
gushing on about the “terrorist threat” and today’s scariest dude on
planet earth — Osama bin Laden. Hey, who knows, maybe he did it.
But, something just doesn’t add up.
Am I being asked to believe that this guy who
sleeps in a tent in a desert has been training pilots to fly our
most modern, sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy
that they are able to hit these three targets without anyone
wondering why these planes were so far off path?
Or am I being asked to believe that there were
four religious/political fanatics who just happenedto be
skilled airline pilots who just happened to want to kill
Maybe you can find one jumbo jet pilot willing to
die for the cause — but four? Ok, maybe you can — I don’t
What I do know is that all day long I have heard
everything about this bin Laden guy except this one fact — we
created the monster known as Osama bin Laden!
Where did he go to terrorist school? At the CIA!
Don’t take my word for it — I saw a piece on MSNBC
last year that laid it all out. When the Soviet Union occupied
Afghanistan, the CIA trained him and his buddies in how to commits
acts of terrorism against the Soviet forces. It worked! The Soviets
turned and ran. Bin Laden was grateful for what we taught him and
thought it might be fun to use those same techniques against us.
We abhor terrorism — unless we’re the ones doing
We paid and trained and armed a group of
terrorists in Nicaragua in the 1980s who killed over 30,000
civilians. That was our work. You and me. Thirty thousand
murdered civilians and who the hell even remembers!
We fund a lot of oppressive regimes that have
killed a lot of innocent people, and we never let the human
suffering that causes to interrupt our day one single bit.
We have orphaned so many children, tens of
thousands around the world, with our taxpayer-funded terrorism (in
Chile, in Vietnam, in Gaza, in Salvador) that I suppose we shouldn’t
be too surprised when those orphans grow up and are a little whacked
in the head from the horror we have helped cause.
Yet, our recent domestic terrorism bombings have
not been conducted by a guy from the desert but rather by our own
citizens: a couple of ex-military guys who hated the federal
From the first minutes of today’s events, I never
heard that possibility suggested. Why is that?
Maybe it’s because the A-rabs are much better
foils. A key ingredient in getting Americans whipped into a frenzy
against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It’s much easier
to get us to hate when the object of our hatred doesn’t look like
Congressmen and senators spent the day calling for
more money for the military; one senator on CNN even said he didn’t
want to hear any more talk about more money for education or health
care — we should have only one priority: our self-defense.
Will we ever get to the point that we realize we
will be more secure when the rest of the world isn’t living in
poverty so we can have nice running shoes?
In just eight months, Bush gets the whole world
back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement,
walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on
restarting the arms race — you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it
The senators and congressmen tonight broke out in
a spontaneous version of “God Bless America.” They’re not a bad
group of singers!
Yes, God, please do bless us.
Many families have been devastated tonight. This
just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this
to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people
who did not vote for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the
planes’ destination of California — these were places that voted
Why kill them? Why kill anyone? Such insanity…
Let’s mourn, let’s grieve, and when it’s
appropriate let’s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we
It doesn’t have to be like this…
Michael Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article appears as Mike's Message of September 12, 2001, on
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A Call to Dialogue
As the calls for war in the mainstream media and
the halls of power grow louder, with Senator John McCain speaking
for many when he said, “God may have mercy on them, but we won’t,” a
different kind of response has been building as well.
The peace community, from established groups like
Peace Action and the Fellowship
of Reconciliation to grassroots activists across the country,
has united in a strong, consistent, and deeply heartfelt response.
Reading the statements being put out, one sees clearly that the
entire community joins wholeheartedly the nation in condemning the
brutal attack of two days ago, and in the fear, grief, and sense of
loss it has occasioned.
There is also widespread agreement that there
should be no rush to judgment and no massive “retaliation” that
would target the innocent civilians of any country. Noting that
international law does not recognize any right of retaliation or
vengeance (Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which governs the use of
force, requires that any action be taken only with the permission,
and under the auspices of, the Security Council, the only exception
being self-defense against imminent attack which does not include
vengeance for past attacks), Peace Action and others are calling
clearly for any remaining perpetrators to be brought to justice
through legal channels, with international cooperation.
Very similar sentiments were expressed in a
community discussion last night, organized by Austin’s progressive
activist community. Two hundred and fifty people came together, to
express their emotions and their experiences, to share ideas and
information, and to plan future actions.
From the beginning, it was clear that people
really needed to talk. There was no good way to cope with the flurry
of hands that was raised at every pause.
One young man tearfully expressed his fear that,
with all the talk of America going to war, the draft would be
reinstated and that he would have to kill or die in an effort he
opposed. Several were afraid of the loss of our civil liberties.
Others shared their fear for friends, relatives, and friends of
friends who worked near the World Trade Centers, and who had not
been heard from. Everyone felt grief and anger that so many innocent
people were killed.
Many, however, expressed strong emotions of a
different kind. Deep disquiet with their friends and acquaintances
caught up in a vortex of fury, often racist in tone. Anger at the
mainstream media, almost universally perceived to be even worse than
government officials in their constant calls for blood — somebody’s,
anybody’s. Guilt, pain, and sorrow on contemplating the seemingly
inevitable killing of innocent civilians being planned by our
And, far and away the most common feeling,
isolation. Many expressed their heartfelt gratitude that the
discussion had been organized, because they had been feeling,
“Nobody else thinks the way I do.”
After talking through their feelings, many who had
been sunk in despair felt newly energized to do what they could to
head off war, and the discussion ended in a massive organizing
The lesson is clear. There are many, many people
in this country who see clearly that one killing of innocents will
not be requited by another, that a radically different path is
needed to assure our security and that of people in other parts of
In the days to come, if those people rely only on
the television and the big daily newspapers, they will feel isolated
and beleaguered, deprived of their voices and their democratic right
to help shape the public dialogue.
That will be a tremendous tragedy. Even though
this is an incredibly difficult time to speak up, and voices against
war will inevitably be branded as apologists for terror, this is
also a very important time to speak up. Americans have seen up close
the tangible effects of our foreign policy, and they are interested
as they have not been since the nuclear freeze movement, maybe even
since the Vietnam war.
us call, then, for communities across the country to have similar
dialogues, to work through feelings of pain, fear, and grief and
begin to fashion a coherent response to warmongering before the war
is upon us. We who favor peace must create our own national dialogue
before we can hope to influence the larger one.
Austin could have such a large meeting on such
short notice because of a
multi-year sustained effort , centering on antiwar work, that
has built up a very large (4,000) e-mail announcement and rapid
response list. Localities without that kind of infrastructure may
take a little longer, but the need for timely action is great.
is an antiwar activist, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of
the National Network to End the War Against Iraq and the Board of
Directors of Peace Action (ID only).
The internet has spun a veritable web of informed
analysis and opinion to supplement the positions emanating from
Washington and the mainstream media. Here is what a few
cyber-commentators are saying:
Terrorism, television, and the rage for vengeance
We stare at TV screens and try to comprehend the
suffering in the aftermath of terrorism. Much of what we see is
ghastly and all too real; terrible anguish and sorrow.
At the same time, we’re witnessing an onslaught of
media deception. “The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been
accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing,”
Aldous Huxley observed long ago. “Great is truth, but still greater,
from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.”
Silence, rigorously selective, pervades the media
coverage of recent days. For policy-makers in Washington, the
practical utility of that silence is enormous. In response to the
mass murder committed by hijackers, the righteousness of U.S.
military action is clear — as long as double standards go
Solomon’s latest book is “The Habits of
Highly Deceptive Media.” His syndicated column focuses on media and
The enemy with a thousand faces
While Bush administration officials refuse to
state with certainty who was responsible for this week’s terrorist
offensive against the U.S., Osama bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi
exile who is based in Afghanistan, is clearly their top suspect. His
terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, is one of the only ones in the
world, if not the only one, with the resources, experience and
sophistication to carry out such an attack, experts say.
There is some evidence, though sketchy, linking
bin Laden to the attack. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said U.S.
officials learned of an intercepted telephone conversation between
two bin Laden associates “who acknowledged a couple of targets were
hit.” Bin Laden’s followers also warned an Arab-language newspaper
by telephone three weeks ago that a major attack on the West was
coming soon, according to a London-based Arab journalist….
Gary Kamiya, Salon.
Kamiya is executive editor of Salon.
The end of video game wars
Now is the time in the game of war when we
dehumanize our enemies.
They are utterly incomprehensible, their acts
unimaginable, their motivations senseless. They are “madmen” and
their states are “rogue.” Now is not the time for more understanding
— just better intelligence.
These are the rules of the war game.
Feeling people will no doubt object to this
characterization: war is not a game. It is real lives ripped in
half; it is lost sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, each with a
dignified story. Tuesday’s act of terror was reality of the harshest
kind, an act that makes all other acts seem suddenly frivolous,
Naomi Klein, AlterNet
Terror strikes America’s working families
The terrorist attacks Sept. 11 took a massive toll
on America’s working families. Among the deaths resulting from the
airliner crashes into New York’s World Trade Center buildings and
the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., were unprecedented losses of
emergency services workers and others. The fate of hundreds of
workers remains unknown. Thousands more workers and their unions are
rescuing and providing aid to victims and cleaning up tons of
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Not vengeance but compassion
The images on television have been heartbreaking.
People on fire leaping to their deaths from a hundred stories up.
People in panic and fear racing from the scene in clouds of dust and
smoke. We knew that there must be thousands of human beings buried
alive, but soon dead under a mountain of debris. We can only imagine
the terror among the passengers of the hijacked planes as they
contemplated the crash, the fire, the end. Those scenes horrified
and sickened me.
Then our political leaders came on television, and
I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of
vengeance, of punishment. We are at war they said. And I thought:
they have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of
the twentieth century, from a hundred years of retaliation,
vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counter-terrorism,
of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity….
Howard Zinn, TomPaine.com.Zinn
is a historian and author of A People’s History of the United
On the bombings
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In
scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example,
Clinton’s bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying
half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of
people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN
and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases,
which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is
not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people:
janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a
crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people.
It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many
possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal