The following rant was written about a week after the events of 9/11. It
has languished on my PC for all these years. Firstly, there wasn't an
unobnoxious place to put it the way I had the GEPR organized in those days.
But mostly, given the attitudes of the people in my country after 9/11, I was
actually afraid to upload it. Nobody seemed to see things the way I did. But,
given the "regime change" that happened in the U.S. last week (the Democrats
gaining control of the House and Senate), it seems that there
are at least enough people who are sick of a war that isn't meeting the
stated goals of making us safer from terrorism that perhaps now is the time
to make this rant public. Anyone who thinks I'm "Un-American" for such a
view will at least have to call the majority of people who live here
"Un-American" in the same breath now. I still believe I was right in the
days that followed 9/11, even though the focus has now moved from
Afghanistan to Iraq. And we still haven't got Osama ...
-- Fred Trafton, GEPR Editor, 11/13/06
If you don't care what I think, click here [Note: This was originally
on the main GEPR index page, this link no longer works] to jump
to the GEPR splash page. But given the international community that reads the
GEPR, I thought some of you might want to know what at least some
Americans think about the terrorist attacks on the New York World Trade
Center towers, the Pentagon and four airliner flights of innocent victims.
I never thought I'd use the GEPR to rant about my political views, but
especially because of the GEPR's international audience, I feel a need to
say something about the events of last week in the U.S. To tell the truth,
I expect to get some hate mail. My views aren't popular around here at the
moment. But so far they haven't taken away my freedom of speech.
The first question you'd better ask, especially if you don't live in the U.S.
is "why are those U.S. flags flying up there?" You'd better ask because they
mean different things to different people. What flying the flag means to
some Americans, including me, is that they are proud of the way American
citizens have given their time, money, effort and blood to help the victims
of the terrorist attacks and their families. It means I'm proud of the way
hundreds of New York firefighters and police officers tried to help the
people in those burning towers at the risk of their own lives. And, last
I heard, about 300 of them paid that price. I'm proud of the way Americans
are banding together in spite of their usual petty differences to condemn
this terrible action.
But don't think this is what the flag waving means to all Americans ... what
it means to many at this moment in time is "LET'S KICK US SOME ARAB BUTT!"
This is an opinion given voice by many people in the U.S. right now. This is
the "cowboy" mentality, and I'm appalled to have seen it voiced by so many
important and influential people in the U.S., not the least being our
President. We're hearing this line even from our clergymen, who I thought were
supposed to be supporting peace, love and understanding. I guess I was
mistaken. So we're appropriating funds in our Congress to crank up military
spending to build a bunch of bombs and war planes and heaven knows what else.
For what reason unless we're planning on military actions somewhere?
No, I'm not a pacifist. I do believe there are times when it's right to go
to war, even if it's deplorable to do so. But the fact of the matter is that
in this case, we have no idea whose butt we think we want to kick. We're
just thrashing around looking in vain for an enemy who seems to evaporate
whenever you look in their direction. I believe that if we think of
retribution in terms of military actions, we'll end up being as bad as the
terrorists. We'll kill innocent people, old ladies and children in hopes
that Osama bin Laden will get caught in range of one of the blasts. And
even if we did kill that one man, does anybody really think there wouldn't
be a dozen more to step up to take his place? There are plenty more that
hate Americans now, and killing one of their own would only make them hate
us more. What we'll have is the equivalent of a gang war where each side
feels justified in killing because of the last time the rival gang killed
one of theirs. It's just doomed to failure. Even most of our gangs have
figured it out and tried to stop the killing.
It is a long standing law in our country that we do not engage in
government-sanctioned assassinations. I'm sickened by the fact that our
lawmakers "will not rule out" the possibility of changing this law. It
seems that the only thing we can think of is getting revenge and finding
some way of killing this guy we assume is responsible for this terrorist
attack [Note: at the time this was written, Bin Laden had not yet
admitted responsibility. The fact that he later did really didn't affect
my views of the bigger picture at all]. To hell with anyone else in our
way, we can rationalize anything. We can claim that if innocent Afghanis
are killed in our attack, it's because they are harboring this criminal,
that makes it all OK to start the massacres. I will tell our government
the same as I would tell the terrorists ... there is never any excuse for
killing innocent people. NEVER!
On our radios and TV's here in the States, all we have seen for the past
week is heartbreaking stories of people's last cell phone calls from planes
about to crash or pleading for help buried in the rubble, of wives being told
that their husband's body has been found and seeing them break down in tears,
of burned toys from a day care center in the World Trade Center tower. You
want to bet that if we start slagging large areas of Afghanistan, we'll never
see the stories of those people's grief and hatred, of their broken bodies and
burned children? We'll only have become the Great Satan that Osama bin Laden
claims us to be. This is not my vision of what I want for my country, and
given time to think it through rationally, I don't think it's what most people
here want. But we're all afraid, and we ask ourselves "What would John Wayne
do?", and we tell ourselves he would go and kill the bad guy. If only things
were as simple as they are in the movies ... where killing one bad guy would
wipe out the entire organization under him. If I thought it was that easy, I
might even advocate a surgical strike to kill that one bad guy. But I think
we all know it's nowhere near that simple.
I would like to call on the whole of the Progressive Rock community worldwide
to keep us in your thoughts as we try to figure out what kind of people we
really are in this country. Light a candle, pray, chant, meditate or have
a ritual. Do whatever you do, implore whatever or whoever your vision of
divine Spirit is to grant wisdom to our leaders and not let them go down
the path that fear and hatred always lead to. To our own destruction. If not
our physical destruction, at least our spiritual one ... to become what we