Fifteen Years of 9/11: Have We Progressed?

freedom-towerNot that fifteen years of 9/11 is anything different from fourteen years, or sixteen. It is just a number.

For those who lost their loved ones on that fateful day here in New York, their pain and sorrow will remain exactly the same. We — those who were lucky not to go through their traumas — will not understand how intense their bereavement is.

I personally know at least five or six different friends and families who have never been able to escape from their loss. They have done their best to move on. Some of them have moved on, assuming tasks that others would not have the courage or energy to perform.

Adele Welty lost her firefighter son on September 11, 2001. But she did not cringe in fear. She did not preach violence against violence. Instead, she and some of her friends such as Valerie Lucznikowska established a group called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and went from place to place — both in the U.S. and across the world including Afghanistan and Iraq — to promote peace. These are leaders who showed me how peace and tolerance vis-a-vis war and violence is the only answer.

But unlike them, a vast number of Americans have not been able to understand peace. They have not tried to understand the reasons behind terrorism, and they have not tried to understand the global game of war, repression and economic exploitation, promoted and perpetuated by war corporations, military complexes, their politicians, think tanks, and media. They have misplaced their anger, and the war-mongering people in power have made this world a much more dangerous and violent place to live, much more so than what it was before 9/11/2001.

What we see in ISIS, Boko Haram, Jamat Islami or other extremist-terror groups now, we could not even imagine them until we began to hear about Taliban or Al Qaeda, really after the 9/11 terror took place. Yet, no serious media or government discussion happened ever as to explain where these groups came from, who gave them funding, political and military support, and how these terror groups recruited so many young men and women — people who are ready to kill any number of innocent people, anywhere in the world?

Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, has prolonged the war in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in a way no other U.S. president has ever done. Even though U.S. media do not want to report it this way, but even the New York Times, a staunchly pro-Democratic, pro-status quo mouthpiece of corporate America had to admit that “Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime president than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.” 

It is extremely unlikely that Hillary Clinton, if and when elected president, will do anything different from what Obama has done over his eight years. And on the other hand, Donald Trump who is perhaps not going to be the next U.S. president (I do hope not), will unleash new reign of global warfare, causing massive, new bloodshed. A pro-peace Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein candidacy is now a dream vanished in thin air, thanks to the manipulative election game in the U.S., one that few people understand or pay attention to.

On the home front, within America, hate crimes are on the rise again. Even here in New York City, a so-called safe refuge for immigrants, just in the past couple of weeks, two Muslim priests were shot and killed, followed by a sixty-year-old Muslim woman knifed to death. Their belongings were not taken, and they were all wearing traditional garbs, making it all but certain that these were acts of hate crime.

We — those of us who worked on the ground against anti-immigrant hate crimes after 9/11 — have seen the ugly face of racism, bigotry and violence. We have seen how innocent lives were taken away, and their families were shattered. We have seen how innocent men were taken from their homes at gunpoint, and detained and deported. We have seen how places like Midwood, Brooklyn — aka Little Pakistan — looked like a ghost town, with many of the men taken away and put in prison, and their wives and children eventually leaving America. Their dreams for a better, safe future ended there, summarily.

We are going to observe fifteen years of 9/11 — the tragedies and terror. Let us question ourselves: have we learned anything from our experience in these fifteen years?

Have we progressed as human beings?

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

aunt-nypd-stabbed-queens

Another innocent life fell victim of hate and violence. Here in New York. August, 2016.

Photo Courtesy: pix11.com

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