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A Real 9/11 Reflection

Dan has what I’d consider to be a reflection on 9/11 that really has some substance:

As today, is September 11th, I thought I would engage in a bit of remembering — it is, after all, important to recall moments of our history, for this is the story in which we live.

On this day in 1973, Augusto Pinochet’s American-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. This resulted in seventeen years of torture, terror, and disappearances in Chile, and (according to people like Milton Friedman, who saw Chile as a textbook example of the type of world he wished to create) set a precedent for the way in which the United States acted in Latin America (particularly in the ’70s and ’80s… although they are at it again, as Obama’s government backed the Honduran coup which overthrew the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya in June of this year).

Sponsoring terror, imposing military rule, depriving local populations of their rights, their food, their land, their livelihood, their health, their children and their lives… this is the way that the US continues to engage with the world at large. It is enough to make some people want to fly planes into buildings. Which, not altogether surprisingly, is what happened on another September 11th.

43 Comments

  1. Wes Ellis wrote:

    Wow. This is very pointed. I thank Dan that he has reminded us of the September 11th of the society of the poor. We don’t often remember the dates that the poor remember only the dates that really effect the rich folks because what effects the poor in what can be horrific ways has been accepted as the status quo of the society of wealth.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  2. james wrote:

    The world as a whole and the global poor are living in the most prosperous era and in the best conditions they have ever lived. This is largely due to British and American influence as checkered as it is.
    Ironically any contraction in GDP translates into more deaths from disease and starvation in the third world. The recession worsened by the 9/11 attacks killed more than the attacks themselves or the injustices they SUPPOSEDLY were protesting.

    Stamp your feet about Pinochet’s uglier aspects, but those who have fed more of the poor are people like Friedman not people at an Allende memorial.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  3. Keljeck wrote:

    Milton Friedman was an economist, I think it’s highly doubtful a libertarian such as himself would have torture and mass kidnappings as part of his “type of world.”

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  4. JBH wrote:

    Wow. It’s really hard to know what do do with logic like this.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  5. Daniel wrote:

    The Obama administration had nothing to do with the coup in Honduras. From what I remember reading, the president was attempting to change the constitution so that he could run for re-election, and was attempting to force the military to vote for him. They refused, and eventually removed him. Right or wrong, American foreign policy had little to do with Honduras. (considering they are still planning on having elections in January, last I checked.)

    I’m not suggesting that American interests haven’t played an incredibly destructive role in South America, but this instance is not one of them.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Nathan Smith wrote:

    In fact, the initial reaction of the Obama administration was in favor of the ousted president.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  7. Nathan Smith wrote:

    I think you just offered a rather insightful critique of global capitalism.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  8. james wrote:

    you seem sincere

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  9. Theophilus wrote:

    Gotta go with this one. In fact, if Zelaya had been politically more like Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe (i.e. chummy with Dubya) I wouldn’t be surprised if many opposed to his impeachment/the coup recently would have been instead celebrating Honduras’ self-liberation from a “Yanqui” stooge, despite the oppressions and curtailments of freedoms that would have been no different in this scenario. I simply don’t think that many people take seriously that the events in Honduras pitted one democratic office (Congress) against another (the president), and therefore are neither wholly “democratic” nor “undemocratic”.

    Friday, September 11, 2009 at 11:29 pm | Permalink
  10. Nathan Smith wrote:

    Thanks?

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  11. Benevolently feeding or other form of minor philanthropy towards those you’ve economically enslaved, sometimes by force, in their own country is superficial at best. It certainly isn’t liberating/healthy, especially when you do it at the point of a gun. Please see many of the other USA approved and supported dictators, juntas, and other forms of oppressive governments so the latin and south american countries could be stripped of their resources for American corporate wealth (enabled by Friedman’s economic theory). To moralize Friedman here is to confuse death and life.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  12. dan wrote:

    For those who have commented on Honduras, I suggest reading the relevant articles from the following sites:

    http://www.chavezcode.com/
    http://www.zmag.org/znet
    http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/category/5/23/46/

    If you do so, I think you will discover that Daniel and Nathan (above) don’t know what they are talking about (not sure how else to put that…).

    For example, the initial reaction of the Obama administration was not in favour of the ousted president. In fact, the Obama administration said nothing at all during the first crucial period of the coup and it was only an intense amount of international pressure (i.e. pretty much every other nation in the world) that lead the US gov to speak out against the coup. However, even then, the US refused to officially classify what happened in Honduras as a ‘coup’ and they were thus enabled to provide economic aid to the coup government and this aid was what allowed the coup to consolidate and survive (if they had actually classified it as a ‘coup’, they would have been legally obligated to cut off economic aid, as other nations had done, and this would have toppled the coup). Of course, this is but one small example of the American involvement in Honduras. So, I suggest reading the articles on the sites I linked to above.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  13. james wrote:

    Hey Dan, is Chavez’s permanent seizure of power a good coup or a bad coup? Obama needs to know and your first link confused me.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  14. dan wrote:

    Again, this is just the sort of historically irresponsible comment that one encounters all too often in this sort of discussion. So, let’s be perfectly clear: Chavez hasn’t engaged in any ‘permanent seizure of power’. He is a democratically elected official and only has power so long as he continues to be democratically elected.

    Anyway, James, I’m sorry you found the first link confusing. As I said in my comment above, you’ll need to look on those sites for the relevant articles (to the discussion that is taking place) although there’s nothing wrong with reading the other articles as well!

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  15. james wrote:

    Can’t you see a theme? Chavez removes term limits by referendum. Zelaya removes term limits by referendum. Uribe in Colombia, a conservative, wants term limits removed. Do you know “strong men” have been a problem before? It’s a silent coup of democracy, you just like the people, but we will see about Colombia.

    They all believe Bush’s quip “It would be great to be a dictator….as long as it’s me.” But notice Bush turned power over to Obama. What do the others fear? I think we know. Chavez led a failed coup attempt in 1992, so we don’t have to imagine.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  16. Derek wrote:

    My first reaction to this is frustration. While i appreciate the rhetorical effect of saying “it is enough to make some people . . . ” this implies a lessening of the responsibility for their murder & a rather dismissive attitude towards the suffering of the families affected by that tragedy, both of which i find in poor taste.

    The natural question would be “would you feel as frustrated if that same rhetoric was used to refer to similar tragedies in other countries?” I hope so. Regardless, that is not the point. This is not born out of patriotism, but out of respect for the humanity of the victims of 9/11 & their families. This seems like a poor time to try to stick it to the U.S. gov’t & their hypocritical ways. Real humans were killed and were/are in pain over this.

    Lastly, i fear that this “prophetic” reflection makes the assumption that violence does in fact beget violence. But if the NT tells us anything in connection to this topic, it is that violence does NOT have to beget violence; one can choose to receive unjust affliction, sharing in the suffering of Jesus. Perhaps Dan is hoping that pointing out America’s history with “terrorist” actions will awaken the U.S. gov’t, leading them (& us) to repentance for our national sins. I have no problem with this, but to do so within a framework where violence perpetuates violence seems a bit ironic. Our sins do not justify the killing of people here, anymore than their acts justify the killing of them.

    Calling for repentance is a good thing, but to do so in a way that dehumanizes by (a) belittling pain & (b) justifying the evil actions of one against another is wrongheaded.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:42 am | Permalink
  17. dan wrote:

    Why is it that humanizing ‘terrorists’ is seen as ‘justifying’ them? As I said in the discussion on my blog, it is one thing to understand what might motivate a person to engage in a terrible action (and perhaps, then, feel some sympathy for that person), but it is another thing altogether to approve of the terrible action taken. How some are failing to grasp this basic point is puzzling to me.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  18. Halden wrote:

    Haven’t you seen Inglorious Basterds? “Natzi ain’t got no humanity!” I’m sure the same goes for Arabs…err, I mean terrorists.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  19. james wrote:

    Dan I think you don’t “understand what might motivate” these terrorists. You made shit up to fit a pet project. You want them to be motivated by the same sort of interference the U.S. committed in Chile. It is not. Don’t dignify their act on a day we are memorializing their victims. That is douchey. How YOU are failing to grasp this basic point is puzzling to me.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  20. Daniel wrote:

    Dan, I think you’re oversimplifying power politics. The President is not the government in Honduras. Just like in the USA, the president is not the government. The president was attempting to reform the constitution to allow for him to continue his presidency. In America, I would hope, we would balk and protest at such a notion. Could you imagine what would have happened if Bush attempted to reform the constitution without the support of the Supreme Court or Congress? Chaos would ensue.

    The Coup happened on June 28. On June 29 Obama called the coup “Illegal.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8125292.stm

    “In fact, the Obama administration said nothing at all during the first crucial period of the coup and it was only an intense amount of international pressure (i.e. pretty much every other nation in the world) that lead the US gov to speak out against the coup”

    I don’t think it is reasonable (or honest) to say that the Obama administration said nothing. Because they did…… Do you really know what you’re talking about?

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  21. Bwuaahahah, seriously? Since when was the American interference, or better said, introduction of violence against the Chilean government (violence against a government of the people for an American desired dictator) righteous? Your attempt to de-contextualize our actions or set us up as the normative in the world is dubious at best. See for instance your word selection: terrorist for them, interference for us. You confuse morality with our empire.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
  22. james wrote:

    I’ll readily concede the U.S. bloody unrighteous hands in Chile, but this post seemed to imply that Al-Qaeda is a bunch of freedom fighters versus an interfering empire….”enough to make you want to fly a plane”…

    None of this bears any relationship however to the motivation of Al-Qaeda. Connecting them in order to rationalize their motives, on 9/11 no less, is nothing more than a tasteless upstaging of a memorial to score your daily anti-empire points.

    Go light a candle at the Chilean embassy if you care about Chile. That would be appropriate. Or even ask for the coup to be remembered. Linking the two in this crazy way is simply intended to stick a finger in the eye of Americans on 9/11.

    Let’s try this on August 9th as the Japanese remember Hiroshima: “You serially gang rape a bunch of women in Nanking and pretty soon someone is going to be driven to drop a nuclear bomb on you.” Lovely post. Just apologize and move on.

    File it under grad school kid gets over-excited about application of thesis to real world event. It happens all the time.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  23. When you say upstage, perhaps you can see it through another lens: interrogating our tendency towards baptizing our violence. This also questions ‘memorial’, which I would contend, we do quite wrong. See Mike’s use of Metz concerning 9/11. Part 1 is here: http://catholicanarchy.org/?p=1245 .

    Ironically, it is Mike’s use of Metz that is more analogous to your last dismissal: “File it under…” because his paper was indeed, at the beginning, a paper for his phd studies. Dan, contrary to your assertion, spends much time in “real world event[s].” Dan’s post is a rather adhoc work instead that seems to come from a life located in exactly what you think “grad school kids” eschew. Your patronizing and poor assumptions are the very reason why such a post is helpful. I would put money down — informed from your comments — (albeit not much ’cause I’m a lowly grad school kid) that you haven’t rigorously rethought how to rightly remember and memorialize in a christological fashion. When a ‘sacred’ day is abused to further our narcissism, just letting it be isn’t an option.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink
  24. dan wrote:

    More like grad school drop-out (at the rate I’m going)!

    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  25. Don’t worry, I bet you’ll still be a ‘kid.’

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink
  26. dan wrote:

    It’s true. First, people were telling me I would know better once I got out of college. But I finished college and my convictions only deepened.

    Then they told me I would know better once I went to grad school. But I went to grad school and my convictions only deepened.

    Then they told me I would know better once I got married. But I got married and my convictions only deepened.

    Then they told me I would know better once I had a child of my own. But I had a baby boy and my convictions only deepened.

    If you say something that somebody doesn’t want to hear, there’s almost always something circumstantial which that people will try to hold over you in order to not have to take your voice seriously. Anybody older than you, will always be older than you and (when they don’t have much to stand on) will try to use that as a trump card.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  27. james wrote:

    I can be more precise when you will “know better”. When/if your employment no longer requires or at least heavily encourages your current views, you’ll find their relevance will diminish in your own eyes. Presently your just being enabled. I have no illusions that a blog comment could compete with that reinforcement, but meanwhile, someone should police the worst of the excesses.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 1:20 am | Permalink
  28. Yeah Dan, clearly you suffer from a ideological delusion. This clearly needs to be policed out of the public sphere! Oh wait, that sounds like another ideology we know of. Hello Enlightenment. Glad you’re back. You’ve proved so helpful trying to rid us of radical religion, and religion in general by your own religious work. I’ve missed your coercive and dismissive work.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 1:56 am | Permalink
  29. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    I did not loose any loved ones in the attack on the WTC. I was in NYC that day, and I did see one of the planes before it crashed into the building. The stench over the city for the next week was horrible….like burning electronics all across the city. Lots of us got sick from whatever was in the air. The city was a ghost town for a several days, nobody on the streets. That rarely happens in Manhattan.

    Walking around the city days afterward there were missing posters all over the place. It was really sad. At the same time though, one of my friends who is half black, half white, but could pass for Arab, started wearing a flag on his backpack in hopes to preempt and ward-off any potential attacks against himself from angry people.

    I think James’ comments are ridiculous. His defense of Friedman, Bush and company is just stupid. They used our grief in New York, those craven ivory tower politicians who were hiding in holes or 30,000 feet in the air, to make wars. I’d like tto see every last congressman, every last senator, the President and V.P. at the time, dropped off in Iraq, the troops withdrawn, and let them fight their war. Bastards.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:53 am | Permalink
  30. Daniel wrote:

    I think my post got lost in the muddle. But I’d like Dan’s response, because I’d like him to address his potential dishonesty.

    Dan, I think you’re oversimplifying power politics. The President is not the government in Honduras. Just like in the USA, the president is not the government. The president was attempting to reform the constitution to allow for him to continue his presidency. In America, I would hope, we would balk and protest at such a notion. Could you imagine what would have happened if Bush attempted to reform the constitution without the support of the Supreme Court or Congress? Chaos would ensue.

    The Coup happened on June 28. On June 29 Obama called the coup “Illegal.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8125292.stm

    “In fact, the Obama administration said nothing at all during the first crucial period of the coup and it was only an intense amount of international pressure (i.e. pretty much every other nation in the world) that lead the US gov to speak out against the coup”

    I don’t think it is reasonable (or honest) to say that the Obama administration said nothing. Because they did, the very next day.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:21 am | Permalink
  31. roger flyer wrote:

    Yow!
    Kids, kids, kids! Anybody hear Obama talk about trying to return civility to Washington? Gentleman, please get off the high horses and talk to one another. (And stop triangulating–it throws gas on the fire.) Nobody is going to be persuaded by another’s gassy rhetoric.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:22 am | Permalink
  32. dan wrote:

    As a said above, Daniel, you can read the relevant articles provided on the sites I provided. If you do so, I trust you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  33. Daniel wrote:

    Dan, I looked at the articles. They talk about the US government still giving aid to the Honduras government after the coup. But that’s not what YOU said.

    You said :“In fact, the Obama administration said nothing at all during the first crucial period of the coup and it was only an intense amount of international pressure (i.e. pretty much every other nation in the world) that lead the US gov to speak out against the coup”

    Which is verifiability false, as displayed in the link I provided.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  34. dan wrote:

    You didn’t read far enough back in the articles then.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  35. Daniel wrote:

    Then give me a link

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  36. Daniel wrote:

    http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1930/46/

    This is the only link you gave that’s content was relevant to Honduras. And the author of the article linked above confirms exactly what I said. From your own sources, you’re wrong about Obama needing to be coerced into making a statement of condemnation.

    Deal with it.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  37. dan wrote:

    Good grief, man, do I need to teach you how to do web-based research?? Both Znet and Eva’s site contain several relevant articles so, I’m sorry if it takes you more than 10 seconds to find them by searching those sites, but they are there. I’ve already done the leg work on this issue once (and received confirmation regarding the sources I was reading from friends in Teguc) so I’m not about to do your research for you.

    Sorry, Halden, for this pathetic and boring exchange.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  38. Halden wrote:

    Hey, no worries. Sorry for hijacking your post.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  39. Daniel Mininger wrote:

    Wait…do my research for me? YOU’RE the one making a claim. YOU have to support it. That’s like writing a thesis, claiming sources, and saying “yea…they’re on the internet somewhere, go find them” I don’t want to read through 200 articles to find the one you’re talking about that shows ‘the Obama administration didn’t respond”

    Academic integrity anyone? seriously…..

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  40. roger flyer wrote:

    Dan and Daniel-
    Arrgghhh. Come on you guys. Leave the mud slinging. Put up the sources.(And guess what? They may be wrong)

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  41. Daniel wrote:

    Roger,
    I’d love some sources! I posted the two I was referring to:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8125292.stm
    http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1930/46/

    I’d love to know where Dan is getting his information from. Because the two sources I listed claim that he’s wrong. But, apparently he’s above responding to the critique, and claims his sources reveal his verification (without providing those sources first hand). If there’s more information out there, I’m all for it. He has already done the leg work. I don’t know why he doesn’t share.

    If I’m wrong, I want to know why.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  42. Derek wrote:

    Fair enough Dan. I will concede that my argument that you were implying justification was off base, since your intent was merely explanatory.

    That said, is 9/11 really the proper context to “educate” people on how we are the motivation for someone else’s actions? I think that smells a bit self-righteous to some, & honestly makes some suspicious (fair or not) that their actions are being justified. Why is the actual day the right context to educate? There is obviously a rhetorical advantage to doing so on 9/11, but at that point our point may have become more important than those affected by the event and its aftermath (including the tragic war following). I guess that is why i am still a bit offput by your post.

    Either way, as much as i can (given that i don’t know you in real life), i do appreciate that you are willing to not merely swallow everything the US gov’t says or actually does. I just think the time & format you chose to express that was less than ideal.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  43. roger flyer wrote:

    Daniel-
    I think you’ve made a good case for ongoing discussion. It could be that Dan is so persuaded by his version of ‘truth’ that he can’t hear your legitimate arguments.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

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