By Carol Baum, SPC Staff
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Revenge Will Not Heal Our Grief
Printed by the Syracuse Post-Standard on Sunday, September 11, 2011
After the Syracuse area peace and social justice community got over the initial shock of the events of 9/11/01, “Revenge Will Not Heal Our Grief” became a statement of both our hopes and fears. How would this country respond to the grief of its people? What would we learn? Would our grief make us more empathetic to the pain people in other countries feel? Would it cause us to become more fearful and hateful? How would the events be “spun,” what political agendas would be pushed? Where would this country be ten years later?
The fears of the peace and social justice movements were quickly realized. Instead of viewing the events of 9/11 as criminal acts, they were viewed as acts of war. In the name of making us “safer,” the US government embarked on a “War on Terror” which has curtailed civil liberties, created endless war and made torture acceptable. Shortly after 9/11, the USA PATRIOT Act was hastily passed, expanding the surveillance powers of the government to an unprecedented degree. All Muslims and Arabs within the US’ borders became potential enemies and received special scrutiny. Afghanistan was quickly attacked, the first of the “endless wars.”
Immediately thereafter, Bush and company were eyeing Iraq, a country having no connection with 9/11. In spite of massive opposition throughout the world, the US military invaded Iraq in early 2003. Despite a partial withdrawal from Iraq, tens of thousands of US soldiers and military contractors remain.
The US has become an armed fortress, where racial profiling is conducted in the name of national security, and people who come to this country looking for a better life for themselves and their families are considered threats. In this tight economy, communities welcome money available from the Department of Homeland Security to beef up their security. In some states, anyone who “looks foreign” can be stopped and asked for papers based on the color of their skin. Our culture is becoming more and more militarized as we become more and more fearful.
In the past ten years, our grief has caused grief for millions of people around the world. Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis (to name just a few) have died, been injured, lost loved ones, become refugees or had their communities decimated by our wars. In this country people have lost their jobs, services and homes as a result of a government that puts more money into war than into human needs. Members of the military, many of whom are just there because it’s a job, are sent back to the battlefield again and again, and come home wounded in body and spirit. Our children don’t know what it’s like to not be at war. Immigrants, Muslims and Arabs are watched, feared and detained.
This has not gone without challenge. Hundreds of thousands of people have tried to prevent the suffering or ease it, through protest, service, campaigns, creating alternatives, education.
To remember those who died on 9/11/01 is not enough – we must also remember the aftermath and continue to dedicate ourselves to ending endless war and racism, and protecting our liberties and those of others.
Submitted by Carol Baum, on behalf of the Syracuse Peace Council