Haven't been writing in here for awhile. Let's work backwards. Last weekend I was recalled home, and was given a haircut (bad). I also got some new clothes (good, although I thought it was going to be bad), and had a nice meal (good). I had an irritating conversation with my mom, who doesn't seem to understand devotion to a cause. Being a philosopher is very important to me, and although I understand that it may hurt me socially, I am willing to pay that cost. My mother thinks that people who devote themselves that way are 'mentally ill'. Most of the greatest minds in history have surpassed the common, and they are the most sacred and beautiful humans. Oh well, for some odd reason, I keep expecting my mother to understand this, and I should just give up on any hopes of her being, or even understanding, greatness. I'm really bummed about my haircut, but I understand that looking like a commoner will help me get a job, and so I console myself with the knowledge that that will probably be my last haircut in my entire life. I can see that my mother continues to terrorize my sisters with her stupid religion.
Stepping back, there's the WTC and Pentagon bombing. To introduce the topic, here's an essay I wrote about it (used to reply to nationalistic propoganda that's been floating around recently)
If it's worth sharing, it merits a response, and perhaps commentary. The terrorist attacks were a tragedy -- many innocent people were killed, people who did absolutely nothing to merit the horrible deaths they suffered. The death of innocents is an injustice, and broke the hearts of their families and friends. Terrorist attacks, wars, and other circumstances where someone kills innocents are horrible things.
It is a pity, when innocents must pay the penalty of their country's wrongs. It would be a similar pity if the American military started a war that killed more innocents over this. I do not think we should support a war -- precise strike teams or guided missles should suffice very well to kill the guilty, and JUST the guilty. It is very easy to fall under the spell of nationalistic symbols, and only start caring for American lives. That would be a mistake -- innocent lives are what we should love, not just American lives. All of us probably have friends from another nation. Just because they were born in another nation, or perhaps even live in another nation, does not make them any less of a person, nor does it make it less of a tragedy should they die as part of a war. It is very easy to fall under the group-feeling, the patriotism and nationalism, to watch the flag wave, and get a feeling of 'us versus them'. Not all of them support their government, and thankfully, none of us bear the weight of the misdeeds of our governments. Justice is very important, but if we are going to start a war, we should be very careful to only strike at the guilty, and not just be led by our anger.
Finally, let us address why there are people cheering the explosions. I would not do this, and think it's sad to cheer the death of innocent people. These people are thinking, however, on the scale of governments rather than people, and this is what I beg of all of you *NOT* to do. Our government has done bad things with regards to international policy. Most governments do, but the power ours has puts it in a unique position for causing injustice across the world. It generally then gets on a 'moral high horse', downplaying its actions and pretending (for us) to be shocked when we get anything of what we've been dealing all over the world. Many people see our military intervention as a global superhero -- nothing could be further from the truth. The Gulf War was about gas prices -- our 'concern' about Kuwait was a pretty story. The United States (and Russia) supplied most of the arms of Iraq for the last several years to play them off of Iran in order to keep a war going in the region, in order to prevent the rise of a single regional power. The U.S. has supplied arms and other military aid to several dictators who were brutal to their people merely because they were opposed to Communism. The Yugoslavia intervention is mainly intended to prevent the war from spilling over into neighboring countries who enjoy good economic relations with the U.S. The U.S. government also uses its global spy network to hand over business knowledge relevant to American companies operating in Europe, giving them an illicit 'leg up' on the competition. Finally, and possibly (although we don't know yet) related to the bombings, the U.S. government provides direct and implicit promises of future aid to Israel, an action that is likely the biggest cause of Arab hatred of this nation. As you may know, Israel was established after World War 2 as a result of the Zionist movement. This political movement within the Jewish community was intent on creating a homeland for Jewish people. As many nations were at least mildly anti-Semitic (including the Allied nations, e.g. the United States), the atrocities of WW2 created feelings of guilt that led them to support the Zionists as their part of the reparations. Unfortunately, the Zionists chose as their homeland the historical homeland of the Jews, Israel. Israel was already occupied, however, and had been for many centuries, by Palestinians (Muslims) who also make religious claims to the land. In a sense, they make the same religious claims -- Islam began as an eastern sect of Judaism, and like Christianity, contains substantial content of Jewish religion as part of itself. The establishment of the Jewish state, and the subsequent loss of their country and holy land by the Palestinians (the loss of the holy land was actually a loss for all of Islam) established a foundation for Islamic dislike of the United States. Since then, Israel has done everything it could to move more Jews into Israel and force Palestinians out (right of return, american dual citizenship, asassinations, appropriation of Palestinian homes, invasion of neighboring countries, etc). All of this is done with American support, and the implicit promise to neighboring countries that if Israel is invaded, the U.S. will get involved. Israel essentially has the support of the playground bully, and can do whatever it likes to the people whose lands it took. It is not surprising to me (although I still disapprove) that people are cheering the terrorist acts on our soil.
I don't claim that the Palestinians would be particularly nice to the Israelis either, I just feel for them a bit more because it's their land that was stolen in the creation of the Israeli state. If the United States would stop sending Israel arms, it could stop getting its hands soiled with supporting either group, and stop making enemies. A less agressive, less involved foreign policy would make our government fewer enemies, and we would no longer need to suffer the kind of terrorist actions that the victims of American foreign policy suffer. Terrorist bombings happen relatively frequently in Israel. Wars are happening all over the world, and few Americans even pay attention, let alone care. The victims of our foreign policy are many, and this should be remembered when we feel the urge to get a patriotic indignancy.
We shouldn't be thinking of our country at this time. We should be thinking of the victims, and worrying about new victims should the United States go to war. Avenging their deaths is fine, provided we only kill the actual guilty. The common citizens of whatever country these people are from are not at fault. If it is Bin Laden, we should merely use a strike force to kill him and others responsible for the attack. Killing innocents in the course of a war would make us just as guilty as the terrorists.