FW: About the Terrorism

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Sun Sep 16 12:10:07 MDT 2001

For the readers: This was sent to the Campus Master List in response to the
message above my response by the President, Tana Hasart, who writes in
support of a colleague who had attacked a previous submission of mine on the

-----Original Message-----
From: Hasart, Tana
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2001 6:36 AM
To: Hale, Robert
Cc: Campus Master List
Subject: About the Terrorism

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and appropriate response.  I am
sending my reply to you, Bob, along with my request asking everyone on this
campus to dedicate themselves to sharing information within a context of
respect and integrity.  While there is much to learn about the many-faceted
issues associated with Tuesday's tragedy, I strongly believe this can and
must be accomplished within the framework of those two important values.


Response: Many peoples from diverse cultures express grief in very different
ways. For example, among most Indigenous Peoples, grief is something to be
expressed in very private and very spiritual ways; there is the thought that
public expressions of grief or support for those who have suffered loss may
be used for purposes that have nothing to do with genuine expressions of
grief--private agenda, forging alliances, personal narcissism and
self-engrandizement etc. It is like giving to a charity, if done privately,
with no notice or fanfare, keeping it between oneself and the Creator, the
motives and expressions are often less suspect. Other cultures, however,
have very different modes of expressing grief and solidarity.

Imagine being a Jew or a Roma or a disabled person in Germany, a tragedy has
occurred, and all around you people are singing "Deutschland Uber Alles",
"this is an attack on 'civilization' and OUR homeland", "WE have never been
terrorists and WE will stand against terrorism, WE must unite..." That is
how many Indigenous people feel about some of the syrupy emotionalism and
jingoism going on passing for "patriotism." etc. Guess what? There are many
in America, including Indigenous Nations on the verge of extinction, the
poor and homeless, those without health care fearing a catastrophic illness,
children with the right to be born but not with the right to live full lives
free of poverty and abuse and etc for whom America is not so "beautiful."
Further, jingoism and emotionalism may be self-gratifying from a personal
and  psychological point of view, but it doesn't help to stop further
terrorism. What will help to stop further terrorism, and what is the highest
tribute that can be paid to the victims, is to ask the tough and unpopular
questions, do the often painful self-examination of ourselves and our own
involvement in past and present terrorism (including our own past/recent
support--with foreseeable consequences foreseen at the time--for the likes
of Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, other terrorists yet to surface), do our
homework and read from a variety of sources and perspectives, and just plain
not allow cover-ups, the rewriting of history or demagogues using our grief
and passions for their own narrow and cynical purposes.

Many are signing-up to give blood, driven by their emotions and grief, and
that's great, but why does it take something like this for some people to
give blood? There has been a longstanding need for blood for some time. I
personally cannot give blood ever because of hepatitis acquired during
service in the U.S. Army--from which I nearly died. So I'll have to find
another way to contribute. My way to pay tribute to the victims is to do
careful scholarship and research on the origins and forces responsible for
terrorism. For example, if I give a gun to a known psychotic who is the
"enemy of my enemy" and therefore potentially useful in a limited and
contained sense--I think--I am responsible for the inevitable and
foreseeable carnage that will ensue. Well Saddam Hussein was a known thug
and terrorist long before the invasion of Kuwait, but because he was useful
for purposes of oil and standing against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War that cost
over a million lives, the U.S. Government armed him, gave him loans and
grants from U.S. taxpayer's dollars, and even gave him sophisticated
satellite intelligence they don't even give the Israelis. Then comes the
invasion of Kuwait and all of a sudden those who armed and gave a green
light to Saddam Hussein are posturing and waxing patriotic trying to
sanitize any references as to who had given Saddam Hussein his resources and
green light. The same is true with respect to the Taliban and Osama bin
Laden who were U.S. "allies" against the Soviets in Afghanistan (knowing
full-well they were as anti-U.S. as anti-Soviet and were trafficking dope to
finance their operations--putting the war against drugs on the back burner)
and then as recently as August, 2001 the U.S. Government was sending monies
to the Taliban (see the very prophetic Robert Sheer article dated May 22,
2001) now under the banner of the drug war, as the Taliban claimed to have
come to the realization that drug trafficking is "anti-Islam." And again, we
see some of the same players in the U.S. Government singing "God Bless
America" with no reference to how/why the Taliban and Osama bin Laden got to
and stayed in the positions they are now in and with no reference to the
myriad intelligence and security failures that also contributed to this

Well flag waving, calls for "unity", etc. are relatively easy and often just
plain narcissistic and manipulative; they don't really take a whole lot of
personal energy and commitment. How many who are doing the more jingoistic
expressions of "patriotism" knew anything about the Taliban and Osama bin
Laden (who says he didn't do it and has not yet been "determined" to have
done it) and the whole history of their origins and support? Or, how many of
the flag wavers have even read the U.S. Constitution in its entirety? Or,
how many of the more expressive "patriots" do you think could pass the basic
citizenship test given to all immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship? I suspect
not many. And what is really priceless is that while screaming "America the
free", singing "America the Beautiful" and talking about "democracy", some
of America's own Taliban types are trying to silence dissenting opinions,
attacking poor immigrants who themselves are victims of terrorism and just
plain playing right into the hands of these terrorists.

In their book "Critical Thinking: Tools For Taking Charge of Your Learning
and Your Life", the authors Richard Paul and Linda Elder note the following
values as critical to critical thinking or what they call "Traits of the
Disciplined Mind": Intellectual Autonomy; Intellectual Integrity;
Intellectual Humility; Intellectual Sense of Justice; Intellectual
Perseverance; Intellectual Fair-mindedness; Intellectual Confidence in
Reason; Intellectual Courage; Intellectual Empathy. They also note that more
commonly held and employed are the opposite "values" of "Traits of the
Undisciplined Mind": Intellectual Conformity; Intellectual Hypocrisy;
Intellectual Arrogance; Intellectual Unfairness; Intellectual Laziness;
Intellectual Disregard for Justice; Intellectual Distrust of Reason;
Intellectual Cowardice; Intellectual self-centeredness.

The real tribute to the memories and suffering of the victims of the WTC
tragedy or any tragedy, is to do some serious scholarship, read some very
dull books, listen to a variety of often uncomfortable perspectives, admit
what must be admitted about ourselves as well as about others, learn the
lessons that must be learned and above all do not succumb to the jingoistic
demagoguery and manipulations of the "sunshine patriots and
politicians/politician wannabes. Of course what it takes to show real
support and grief for the victims of any tragedy cannot be served up like a
microwavable dinner and may be too much for a culture geared to narcissism,
anti-intellectualism, ultra-individualism and the quest for "instant

Jim Craven
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