9/11: ANOTHER DAY IN LIFE?

Today, the world over, people are talking about what happened six years back, almost to the hour. People pray, people cry, people remember. People vow, too, to avenge, to struggle to bring the criminals to justice, whatever be the cost.
All this is so natural, so understandable.
A friend provoked me to think: Is the US and the West making too much of what, ultimately, was another dot in the history of the Universe? Do we remember on which day millions were slaughtered in Auschwitz? Or Cambodia? Or in Russia or China? What about Sudan and Kosovo?
What is so special about 9/11 then? Thousands of human beings get killed every day and month, don’t they?
Millions die in eras that become the soiled sanitary napkins of history. Why should this particular event be so epochal?
I thought about this, and the answer did not take long to come:
Just like a man decides which event in life he would take as special, which insult he would swallow and which he would kill for, a country decides how valuable the lives of its citizens are.
It is a bitter truth that human life has no value in Iraq, Africa, and most countries in Asia, especially India and Pakistan.
The US took the twin tower bombings as an intolerable slash on its freedom and its integrity, verily as a threat to its existence. India, on the other hand, has taken many comparable attacks in its stoic and indifferent stride. Maybe that is why the attacks on us don’t stop.
Maybe that is why there has been no further attacks on US soil.
And that, surely, is why history will never forget 11th September,2001, even if it ignores the millions killed before and after it.

21 responses to “9/11: ANOTHER DAY IN LIFE?

  1. Quite what I wrote, in fewer words this morning.

    Shefaly,
    Far fewer words (you do write so well, though), I must say!
    🙂

  2. Rambodoc: You have brought out a very valid point in observing how the value a country places on its citizen’s lives determines the nature of its response to attacks on its soil.

    In the light of how 9/11 is ‘special’, I think there are following additional factors in play:

    1. Auschwitz (and the Holocaust), Cambodia, Russia, China, Sudan, Kosovo – in all these examples, the injustice/crime/evil began within the (disputed) territorial region of the country. In other words, it started as an internal or local matter, unlike 9/11.

    2. Regarding India, pre-9/11 terrorist attacks like the 1993 bombings, were again linked to events within India – communal riots arising out of political events and so on. Post 9/11 terrorist attacks may be of a different nature, similar to 9/11. Regarding Kashmir issue, it is again a territorial dispute issue leading to killings and injustice. Thus, 9/11 is an important milestone even in this context.

    3. None of the pre-9/11 events described above were sudden, unexpected attacks that killed thousands in one day. They started and slowly evolved to greater and greater evil. Like any human response, we are struck with the shock of 9/11 to a greater extent because of the surprise element.

    4. Technical and strategic brilliance: while all other evil crimes mentioned were heinous, 9/11 is regarded as the work of a ‘mastermind’.

    5. Further elaborating on the first two points, in situations where these internal crises erupted and grew, they were followed by wars either between local, regional entities or by countries. 9/11 is the first large-scale perpetration of evil, not by a nation, not by a dictator in his own country, but by an assorted group, launched on a foreign soil that is regarded as the land of liberty.

    6. Lastly, all the crimes discussed were on political or territorial or racial grounds. 9/11 marks the beginning of the first large-scale, world-wide, fundamentalist war cry that openly claims justification on the grounds of religion.

    Mahendrap,
    What you say makes sense, but look:
    Can anyone come close to the Nazi scientific massacres in terms of what you say about ‘mastermind’?
    In terms of root causes, religion has been at it in the past (Kosovo saw millions slaughtered). Clearly, in terms of numbers, macabrity, etc. 9-11 pales in comparison.
    It is only because the US was shocked. The US took it to its denouement. If it were any other country, no one would remember 9-11 every year, except themselves.

  3. There’s the notion, though, of a “defining event” for each generation. For the baby boomers, it was JFK’s assassination. For their parents, Pearl Harbor. And for Gen X, it’s September 11. It sort of puts things in perspective: while you can’t live your life constantly lamenting the millions upon millions of human lives lost over millennia, you can see a single event, such as 9/11, as a window into history. All the life-altering, thought-provoking questions that inevitably hit us the morning of the attacks allow us to delve deeply into a single terrible event: then it is through that framework that we can better understand those of the past.

    Bancheese,
    Welcome!
    Very well put, I couldn’t put it quite that well myself.

  4. wow u simply read my mind
    today morng, i was thinking on posting about what is different in us and india that after ur ref of deep throat (nt the film but the fbi agent 🙂 )
    1. Obeying rule of law and persuing a criminal till he is punished (maybe a few politicos escape)
    2.holding every citizen dear and being responsible for their protection.
    3. whistleblower policy and justice dept that actually works most of the time
    4. few elements in media with impartial credentials

    Prax,
    Thanks for your points. They bear out my argument.

  5. A very valid point. Specially when you look at tragedies like the Rwanda genocide for which US chose to be a mute spectator because of International politics (read France).

    Oemar, I missed Rwanda! Though, truth to tell, the US isn’t obligated to rush in to prevent every genocide or pogrom in every part of the world. It still sticks its neck out, though, most times!

  6. Maybe the fact that you chose to write a post about it? 😉

  7. Actually, I think it is because it is so much of a shock. Americans were living in a comfortable cocoon and this comfort level was shattered on 9/11. This date is epochal in this sense.

  8. Your view is only the view of Americans, You will find that the view of other nations will beg to differ, even a majority of us here in the UK.

  9. Rambodoc: Thanks for your kind words.

  10. There is so much fuss about 9/11 because Americans were never attacked before this eventful day. Even during the world war mainland America was not attacked. All the wars that the Americans have fought were in some other country and all they lost were the soldiers. Never before 9/11 the civilians faced this sort of situation. They lived on another planet and they were a different species. Always on a high moral ground and had the right to sermonise anybody and everybody on human rights and democracy.This was a very big tragedy but this was not the first time that the world faced terrorism.

  11. Rambodoc, I think you’re right that most Americans place a high value on human life, although I don’t know how that compares to other countries. I also think Americans place a high value on innocence. If the 9/11 attacks had been directed only against the military, they would not have been nearly so shocking as they were. But because they were largely directed against innocent civilians, there was a much greater sense of outrage.

  12. Amit, Nita, Rooster (welcome!), Prerna, and Paul…
    Thanks for your comments.
    I think it is also because the fact that the most powerful nation on earth was attacked that also made a key difference. That said, how a nation treats such attacks makes all the difference.

  13. nita
    not shock but because of world media dominance
    live tv and imagry -and bcause of the cucoon thing
    yes there was shock but also during the prev bombings like the McVeigh okoahoma
    the coverage was not that intense

  14. Thank you for your welcome.
    I find it hard to understand why you put America on a pedestal by saying the most powerful nation on earth, I agree that America has very influential powers, but to gain these powers the USA has gained so much International debt, which now stands at 2218.7 billion dollars to Nations around the world http://www.treas.gov/tic/mfh.txt.
    America is in crisis and the public seem to ignore this problem.
    Remember other nations that had massive world power over the centuries, Italy (Rome), Russia, British Empire, Germany, look at these countries now.
    China is a nation which is showing massive powers in Finance and productivity is the nation who will one day be the worlds leaders in influence on other countries, lets hope they do not make the same mistakes the USA is and has done.

    Rooster,
    The debt is one way America is weakening itself. Too much spending, as is so obvious. That said, it is still the leader of the world in military strength, academia and research, cultural influence, purchasing power and political muscle.
    It remains to be seen how long this unipolarity of power exists.
    China will never be equivalent in influence (apart from economic and political) unless it becomes a free country.

  15. Rooster, it’s the nature of things to change – what goes up must come down, as your examples of other empires throughout human history illustrate. Sure, USA’s status is not permanent, and some day, another country will replace it to become the next superpower and then it will fall too. Impermanence – c’est la vie.

  16. Everyone living in the USA remembers where they were 9/11/01 – it was frightening while it was unfolding. I am still frightened after all this time because our government continues to fear monger, instead of addressing terrorism in a sensible way. No one is satisfied with the Iraq War, but anyone who speaks out is branded a traitor or liberal kook.

    What has come out of all this is a nation divided. One America excels in innovation, higher education, etc.
    The other America is paranoid and ignorant of the world around us.

    Great blog!

    Thanks, Jackie!
    I was just going to say “Hope you had a nice 9-11” like I have read other people saying. I, of course, realise how incredibly dumb this sounds. I wonder if this is a common courtesy.

  17. Rambodoc: I said I think you brought out a very valid point (and as usual, did not have anything additional to that point in particular), but tried to add some additional points that may help us understand why the whole world, and not just the US, remembers 9/11 the way it does.

    I was simply trying to list additional factors that may have come into play in making 9/11 such an epochal event.

    I do not think it is “only” because the US was shocked. There are additional factors involved, including those that Nita, Paul, bancheese, and Prax mention and have touched upon in their comments.

    One request: please do not embed your own comments within each comment in bold, it is sufficient to put your addition in italics. It appears as if the formatting puts more weight to your response! 🙂

    Lastly, Rambodoc has taken pains to link to knowledgeable articles on each of these heinous crimes. I hope that the commenters actually take the time to read, understand, and know about these killings in various countries.

    It is easy to target the US and the media hype surrounding 9/11, but when we come across such a wonderful post that highlights other crimes on this planet, how many of us take the effort to learn about those other crimes?

    “please do not embed your own comments within each comment in bold”//
    Mahendra,
    Your every wish is my command, saar!
    I think all of us appreciated your comments, and feel free to add more points even to my pointless posts!!
    😀

  18. Rambodoc:

    “The debt is one way America is weakening itself. Too much spending, as is so obvious. ”

    You think that is weakening America? As long as the US owes money to others – rather than others owing the US money – the US will always be in a strong bargaining position!

    See how lenders are scrambling to cut deals even for the ninjas after the sub-prime crisis? Now extrapolate to a bigger, global lender base and a ninja borrower (not suggesting for a second that the effect of the subprime crisis is not global), and you will see why being a mega-borrower is not a weak stance in global polity.

    Shefaly,
    They say, if you owe a man 1000 bucks, he owns you. If you owe him a million, you own him.

    🙂

  19. See? Now you can punctuate your comments better as well! 😉

    Thanks for accepting my request, doc! Now, I owe you one! 🙂

  20. Rambodoc: Now you own Mahendrap 😉

    Shefaly,
    He is a lown, home-grown rapper, and very much his own man!
    😀

  21. Shefaly makes a good point about reading Ram’s other posts. I fell in love with his writing / written word gymnastics on another list. I like the humourous approach to issues, diffuses much attention. I have lurked on this blog for a while.

    Have been reading each blog entry, and found them thought provoking. I like discourse and hearing varying viewpoints from this community.

    Have also visited many of the contributors’ blogs as well. Great group!

    I am reminded of something I read once; although I may not agree with everything I read, I love the differing viewpoints. Heck, if I wanted to only “speak” to like-minded people, I would just hold up a mirror.
    Bravo to differing viewpoints here, and the _global_ differences. Makes me think.

    Thanks so much, Jackie!

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