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September 23, 2002


  • Features

    Prison’s Shameful Secret

    Roderick Johnson, a 33-year-old African-American Navy veteran from a small town in rural Texas, didn't ask for it. Prison did it to him, and his life will never be the same.

    Silja J.A. Talvi


  • Letter to America

    Concerned that a much-needed international perspective is missing from the debate in this country over the course of American foreign policy and US relations with the world, The Nation asked a number of distinguished foreign writers and thinkers to share their reflections with us. It is our hope that, as in the early 1980s, when a "letter" in these pages from the late E.P. Thompson expressing rising European concern about the Reagan Administration's nuclear weapons buildup was instrumental in building common bonds beween antinuclear movements across the Atlantic, this series will forge bonds between Americans concerned about how Washington is exercising power today and the rest of the world. We begin with a letter to an American friend written by the South African writer Breyten Breytenbach, whose opposition to apartheid resulted in his spending seven years in prison.
       --The Editors

    Dear Jack,

    This is an extraordinarily difficult letter to write, and it may even be a perilous exercise. Dangerous because your present Administration and its specialized agencies by all accounts know no restraint in hitting out at any perceived enemy of America, and nobody or nothing can protect one from their vindictiveness. Not even American courts are any longer a bulwark against arbitrary exactions. Take the people being kept in that concentration camp in Guantánamo: They are literally extraterritorial, by force made anonymous and stateless so that no law, domestic or international, is habilitated to protect them. It may be an extreme example brought about by abnormal circumstances--but the criteria of human rights kick in, surely, precisely when the conditions are extreme and the situation is abnormal. The predominant yardstick of your government is not human rights but national interests. (Your President keeps repeating the mantra.) In what way is this order of priorities any different from those of the defunct Soviet Union or other totalitarian regimes?

    The war against terror is an all-purpose fig leaf for violating or ignoring local laws and international agreements and treaties. So, talking to America is like dealing with a very aggressive beast: One must do so softly, not make any brusque moves or run off at the mouth if you wish to survive. In dancing with the enemy one follows his steps even if counting under one's breath. But do be careful not to dance too close to containers intended for transporting war prisoners in Afghanistan: One risks finding one's face blackened by a premature death.

    Why is it difficult? Because the United States is a complex entity despite the gung-ho slogans and simplistic posturing in moments of national hysteria. Your political system is resilient and well tested; it has always harbored counterforces; it allows quite effectively for alternation: for a swing-back of the pendulum whenever policies have strayed too far from middle-class interests--with the result that you have a large middle ground of acceptable political practices. Why, through the role of elected representatives, the people who vote even have a rudimentary democratic control over public affairs! Except maybe in Florida. Better still--your history has shown how powerful a moral catharsis expressed through popular resistance to injustice can sometimes be; I have in mind the grassroots opposition to the Vietnam War. And all along there was no dearth of strong voices speaking firm convictions and enunciating sure ethical standards.

    Where are they now? What happened to the influential intellectuals and the trustworthy journalists explaining the ineluctable consequences of your present policies? Where are the clergy calling for humility and some compassion for the rest of the world? Are there no ordinary folk pointing out that the President and his cronies are naked, cynical, morally reprehensible and very, very dangerous not only for the world but also for American interests--and by now probably out of control? Are these voices stifled? Has the public arena of freely debated expressions of concern been sapped of all influence? Are people indifferent to the havoc wreaked all over the world by America's diktat policies, destroying the underpinnings of decent international coexistence? Or are they perhaps secretly and shamefully gleeful, as closet supporters of this Showdown at OK Corral approach? They (and you and I) are most likely hunkered down, waiting for the storm of imbecility to pass. How deadened we have become!

    In reality the workings of your governing system are opaque and covert, while hiding in the chattering spotlight of an ostensible transparency, even though the ultimate objective is clear. Who really makes the policy decisions? Sure, the respective functions are well identified: The elected representatives bluster and raise money, the lobbyists buy and sell favors, the media spin and purr patriotically, the intellectuals wring their soft hands, the minorities duck and dive and hang out flags... But who and what are the forces shaping America's role in the world?

    The goal, I submit, is obvious: subjugating the world (which is barbarian, dangerous, envious and ungrateful) to US power for the sake of America's interests. That is, to the benefit of America's rich. It's as simple as that. Oh, there was a moment of high camp when it was suggested that the aim was to make the world safe for democracy! That particular fig leaf went up in cigar smoke and now all the other excuses are just so much bullshit, even the charlatan pretense of being a nation under siege. This last one, I further submit, was a sustained Orson Wellesian campaign to stampede the nation in order to better facilitate what was in effect a right-wing coup carried out by cracker fundamentalists, desk warriors proposing to "terminate" the states that they don't like, warmed up Dr. Strangeloves and oil-greedy conservative capitalists.

    I do not want to equate your glorious nation with the deplorable image of a President who, at best, appears to be a bar-room braggart smirking and winking to his mates as he holds forth his hand-me-down platitudes and insights and naïve solutions. Because I know you have many faces and I realize how rich you are in diversity. Would I be writing this way if I had in mind a black or Hispanic or Asian-American, members of those vastly silent components of your society? It would be a tragic mistake for us out here to imagine that Bush represents the hearts and the minds of the majority of your countrymen. Many of your black and other compatriots must be just as anguished as we are.

    Still, Jack, certain things need to be said and repeated. I realize it is difficult for you to know what's happening in the world, since your entertainment media have by now totally blurred the distinctions between information and propaganda, and banal psychological and commercial manipulation must be the least effective way of disseminating understanding. You need to know that your country has made the world a much more dangerous place for the rest of us. International treaties to limit the destruction of our shared natural environment, to stop the manufacture of maiming personnel mines, to outlaw torture, to bring war criminals to international justice, to do something about the murderous and growing gulf between rich and poor, to guarantee natural food for the humble of the earth, to allow for local economic solutions to specific conditions of injustice, for that matter to permit local products to have access to American markets, to mobilize the world against hunger, have all been gutted by the USA.Your government is blackmailing every single miserable and corrupt mother's son in power in the world to do things your way. It has forced itself on the rest of us in its support and abetment of corrupt and tyrannical regimes. It has lost all ethical credibility in its one-sided and unequivocal support of the Israeli government campaign that must ultimately lead to the ethnocide of the Palestinians. And in this it has promoted--sponsored?--the bringing about of a deleterious international climate, since state terrorism can now be carried out with arrogance, disdain and impunity. As far as the Arab nations are concerned, America, giving unquestioned legitimacy to despotic regimes, refusing any recognition of home-grown alternative democratic forces, favored the emergence of a bearded opposition who in time must become radicalized and fanaticized to the point where they can be exterminated as vermin. And the oilfields will be safe.

    I'm too harsh. I'm cutting corners. I'm pontificating. But my friend, if you were to look around the world you would see that America is largely perceived as a rogue state.

    Can there be a turn-back? Have things gone too far, beyond a point of possible return? Can it be that some of the core and founding assumptions (it is said) of your culture are ultimately dangerous to the survival of the world? I'm referring to your propensity for patriotism (to me it's an attitude, not a value), to the fervent belief in a capitalist free-market system with the concomitant conviction that progress is infinite, that one can eternally remake and invent the self, that it is more important to be self-made than to collectively husband the planet's diminishing resources, that the instant gratification of the desire for goods is the substance of the right to happiness, that the world and life and all its manifestations can be apprehended and described in terms of good and evil, finally that you can flare for a while in samsara, the world of illusions (and desperately make it last with artificial means and California hocus-pocus before taking all your prostheses to heaven).

    If this is so, what then? With whom? You see, the most detestable effect is that so many of us have to drink this poison, to look at you as a threat, to live with the knowledge of cultural and economic and military danger in our veins, and to be obliged to either submit or resist.

    I don't want to pass the buck. Don't imagine it is necessarily any better elsewhere. We, in this elsewhere, have to look for our own solutions. Europe is pusillanimous, carefully though hypocritically hostile and closed to foreigners, particularly those from the South; the EU is by now little more than a convenience for its citizens and politically and culturally much less than the contents of any of its constituent parts.

    And Africa? As a part-time South African (the other parts are French and Spanish and Senegalese and New Yorker), I've always wondered whether Thabo Mbeki would be America's thin globalizing wedge (at the time of Clinton and Gore it certainly seemed so) or whether he was ultimately going to be the leader who can strategically lead Africa against America. But the question is hypothetical. Thabo Mbeki is no alternative to the world economic system squeezing the poor for the sustainable enrichment of the rich; as in countries like Indonesia and your own (see the role of the oil companies), he too has opted for crony capitalism. Africa's leading establishments are rotten to the core. Mbeki is no different. His elocution is more suave and his prancing more Western, that's all.

    What do we do, then? As we move into the chronicle of a war foretold (against Iraq), it is going to be difficult to stay cool. Certainly, we must continue fighting globalization as it exists now, reject the article of faith that postulates a limitless and lawless progress and expansion of greed, subvert the acceptance of might is right, spike the murderous folly of One God. And do so cautiously and patiently, counting our steps. It is going to be a long dance.

    Let us find and respect one another.

    Your friend,

    Breyten Breytenbach

    Breyten Breytenbach

  • Whose Security?

    Bush's counterterrorism efforts neglect women.

    Charlotte Bunch

  • The Art of 9/11

    Mama, build me a fence!

    Arthur C. Danto

  • The End of Empire

    Foreign creditors will eventually pull the plug.

    William Greider

  • A Green Ground Zero

    The debate over how to redevelop the World Trade Center site has revolved around several key concerns: the commercial interests of the real estate industry, the public's desire to embolden Manhattan's skyline with exciting architecture and the historic obligation to memorialize thousands of lost lives. As we continue to address and balance these concerns, let's also seize the chance to reclaim Ground Zero in the spirit of the twenty-first century, showcasing one of today's most inspiring and politically meaningful industrial movements: the revolution in clean energy.

    Imagine for a moment that the structures surrounding the memorial will be sheathed in an invisible skin of electricity-producing solar cells. During the day, while electricity demand is peaking, the buildings will silently, automatically produce energy. No power plants or transmission lines necessary. No greenhouse emissions. No need for oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. No risk of blackouts. No spiking electricity prices. Computer and phone networks, elevators, clocks, air conditioners and ATMs will all run simply, cleanly, like a crop of corn or a grove of trees, on sunlight. (The complex will be connected to the grid, drawing electricity when necessary--at night or on cloudy days--and pumping power back in when it creates a surplus.)

    These high-tech buildings will supply all the services and comforts of a traditional commercial or residential complex but require less than half the electricity because of their green design features: superinsulated walls and windows; highly efficient appliances and lighting, heating and cooling systems; and a motion-sensing laser system that will automatically switch off lights and equipment when not in use. Whereas the original World Trade Center complex guzzled nearly 100 megawatts of electricity a day on peak days, with associated emissions, the new complex will be a net-zero-emission development. Moreover, this mini-El Dorado of energy independence and its surrounding neighborhood will be designed to have minimal need for cars and trucks. Once there, visitors will be in the greatest walking neighborhood in the world. The three airports, Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark, will be connected by train to the downtown terminal, making it an easy commute. An expanded network of ferries connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and uptown will provide a fast and pleasurable way to get around. The heart of lower Manhattan will be knitted together by a clean, quiet street grid restored for use by pedestrians alone.

    "From both a technological and cost standpoint, this scenario is entirely possible," says Ashok Gupta, an energy economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Solar systems, fuel cells and energy-efficiency measures have already been implemented in the design of several skyscrapers in Manhattan, including the Condé Nast building at Times Square and the residential tower at Battery Park currently under construction. As clean-energy technologies become rapidly more sophisticated and affordable, a large-scale application at Ground Zero would galvanize their acceptance in the marketplace. As for transportation, fuel-cell-powered buses and taxis may be too expensive today, but already they're technologically feasible. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the Port Authority have approved additional rail connections for commuters beneath the new complex; they are also considering plans to depress the West Side Highway for a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and to add new ferry lines at Battery Park and on the East River.

    The opportunities are real, but they can't be realized without leaders. Yet neither Governor George Pataki, site developer Larry Silverstein nor Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed much interest so far. "Mr. Silverstein isn't really thinking about this," says his spokesperson. "It's just too early to get bogged down in these kinds of details." Pataki's office expressed a similar lack of initiative, saying the issues are important but not yet a priority. Alex Garvin, vice president of planning for the LMDC, was more assertive in his commitment: "We plan to establish standards for sustainability and green technology that architects will be not only encouraged but required to meet. But we can't get started on this now; it's too early to determine the details."

    Prominent green architects disagree. Robert Fox, senior principal of Fox and Fowle, the architecture firm that designed the Condé Nast building, says planners should adopt the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, the gold standard for sustainable building practices. "Now is the time to address this, at the beginning of the planning process," stresses Fox. "Sustainability measures must be incorporated into every aspect of the design, from the infrastructure of the water, sewage and electricity systems to the external PV-integrated paneling."

    It's a safe bet that the public will support much if not all of the larger zero-energy vision. In addition to the LMDC, two coalitions--Civic Alliance, representing more than 100 institutions, and New York New Visions, representing dozens of local architecture firms--have endorsed principles for downtown redevelopment that promote sustainable design and clean energy. Furthermore, there's impressive evidence that supports the use of clean-energy systems: Richard Perez, a scientist at SUNY Albany who's been tracking sunlight in New York City for more than ten years, has found that the average amount of sun that hits the city annually is only 12 percent less than that in cloudless Tucson.

    Right now the Pataki administration is considering a proposal to limit power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide 30-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Building a zero-energy complex and a state-of-the-art transportation system would advance these goals and address the mounting crisis of global warming, while making a clear statement about America's commitment to energy independence. Since September 11 many energy experts have called for a massive, government-funded research project, a "Manhattan Project of alternative energy" to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil. The opportunity for such an initiative now lies at the foot of Manhattan. Nothing would be more appropriate for a memorial to a traumatic past than one that points us in the direction of a sustainable future.

    Amanda Griscom and Will Dana

  • Standing Up for Dissent

    Every year Greensboro, North Carolina, holds a Fourth of July parade in which local organizations form the units. This year members of the Greensboro Peace Coalition decided--"after some hesitation," admits chairman Ed Whitfield--to join the line of march. They bought an ad in the local paper, printed leaflets and developed their own variation on this year's theme of "American Heroes": large posters of Americans, including Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who have spoken out against the folly of war.

    Though members had been participating in vigils since last October, when the bombing of Afghanistan began, many expressed qualms about marching into the thick of their hometown's annual patriotic celebration. But fifty activists showed up on the Fourth and got the surprise of their political lives. Along the mile-and-a-half parade route through downtown Greensboro, they were greeted mostly with applause, and, at the end of their march, they were honored by parade organizers for "Best Interpretation of the Theme."

    Says Whitfield, "There is a real lesson in this. If you scratch the surface of the poll numbers about Bush and Ashcroft's overwhelming support, you get down to a lot of people with a lot of questions. Some of them are afraid that they are alone in what they are thinking. What it takes to get them excited and to get them involved is for them to see someone standing up so that they will know they are not alone."

    The post-September 11 experiences of the Greensboro Peace Coalition, Berea College's Patriots for Peace, the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice, and dozens of other grassroots groups serve as a reminder that while dissenters have not always spoken in a single voice, they have had in common not just their unease with the bipartisan Washington consensus but the often inspiring experience that there are many Americans who share their discomfort. Take Jennifer Ellis of Peace Action Maine, who recalls how overwhelmed Down East activists felt after September 11. "But then we started to get calls from people saying, 'I don't know what your organization is, but it has the word "peace" in the title. What can I do?'" Some callers were already holding vigils, and her group started sending out weekly e-mails listing them. "We linked people up with local efforts to fight discrimination against Muslims, and we told people how to write members of Congress about civil liberties issues," she says. "Before long, all these people, in all these towns across Maine, were working together."

    As with anti-World War I activists who looked to Wisconsin Senator Bob La Follette, critics of McCarthyism who celebrated Maine's Margaret Chase Smith's statement of conscience or foes of the Vietnam War who were inspired by the anti-Gulf of Tonkin resolution votes of Oregon's Wayne Morse and Alaska's Ernest Gruening, post-September 11 dissenters found solace in the fact that at least a few members of Congress shared their qualms. Three days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, cast the only vote against the resolution authorizing the use of force to respond. Lee's vote earned her death threats and pundit predictions that she was finished politically, but she won her March Democratic primary race with 85 percent of the vote. And the "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me" movement that started in her Oakland-based district has spread; in July several thousand people packed a Santa Cruz, California, movie theater to celebrate "Barbara Lee Day." Said Santa Cruz Mayor Christopher Krohn: "She's become a national moral leader in awakening the movement for justice, peace and a thorough re-examination of US foreign policy." Responded Lee: "It must not be unpatriotic to question a course of action. It must not be unpatriotic to raise doubts. I suggest to you it is just the opposite."

    Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who cast the only Senate vote against the USA Patriot Act's assault on civil liberties, still marvels at the standing ovations he receives when his vote is mentioned. "I thought this would be a difficult vote," says Feingold, who recently earned the best home-state approval ratings of his career. "What I didn't realize was that a lot of people are concerned about free speech and repression of liberties, even in a time of war. I didn't realize until I cast my vote that there was so much concern about whether it was appropriate, whether it was allowed, to dissent after September 11. I think that for a lot of people, my vote told them it was still appropriate to dissent."

    Some members who have challenged the Bush Administration have suffered politically--notably Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney, who lost an August Democratic primary. But most are secure in their seats, and one is even being boomed as a potential Democratic presidential contender. Representative Dennis Kucinich's February speech condemning the bombing of Afghan civilians and the repression of American civil liberties drew an overwhelmingly positive response that Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, says is evidence of broad uncertainty about militarism abroad and economic and constitutional costs at home.

    Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin led several House members in writing a letter in December questioning White House policies that emphasize bullets and badgering as opposed to diplomacy and development; and John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has kept the heat on the Justice Department regarding civil liberties--often with the support of Judiciary Committee chair James Sensenbrenner, a conservative Republican. Still, says Kucinich, "our constituents are perhaps more prepared than Congress for the debate that should be going on."

    Bill Keys, a school board member in Madison, Wisconsin, shares that view. Keys's October 2001 refusal to require the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in city schools earned three days of broadcast rebukes from radio personality Rush Limbaugh, physical threats and a movement to recall him from office. The recall drive fizzled before winter and, this spring, Keys was elected president of the board. "The strange thing is that once I became identified as this awful radical, people started coming up to me and saying, 'Don't you let them shut you up,'" recalls Keys. "If the last year taught us anything, it's this: Yes, of course, if you step out of the mainstream you will get called names and threatened. But you will also discover that a lot of Americans still recognize that dissenters are the real defenders of freedom."

    John Nichols

  • Map to Ground Zero

    The footprints of clashing interests.

    Philip Nobel


  • The Left and 9/11

    Sparks fly in the debate over the war on terror.

    Adam Shatz

  • Enemy Aliens and American Freedoms

    Rights lost by some will one day be lost by all.

    David Cole

  • Editorials

    Impaired Intelligence

    In July the Washington Post, under the headline "Panel Finds No 'Smoking Gun' in Probe of 9/11 Intelligence Failures," reported that the House and Senate intelligence committees jointly investigating the September 11 attack had "uncovered no single piece of information that, if properly analyzed, could have prevented the disaster, according to members of the panel." With an implied that's-that, the committees then went on to examine broader matters concerning systemic weaknesses within the intelligence agencies. That was good news for the cloak-and-dagger set and the Clinton and Bush administrations. Systemic problems tend to be treated as no one's fault. The committees were signaling that there would be no accountability for mistakes made by the spies before September 11.

    In the past year, numerous media accounts have revealed screw-ups, miscalculations and oversights. The FBI didn't pursue leads on potential terrorists enrolled at US aviation schools. The CIA had learned that a suspected terrorist--who would end up on the flight that hit the Pentagon--was in the United States after attending an Al Qaeda summit, and it failed to notify the FBI. The CIA didn't act on intelligence going back to the mid-1990s suggesting that Al Qaeda was interested in a 9/11-type attack. Time magazine noted recently that George W. Bush's national security team did not respond quickly to a proposal to "roll back" Al Qaeda.

    Hints were ignored and the intelligence system failed, an indication that reform is vital. To reform effectively, it is necessary to zero in on specific mistakes as well as big-picture flaws. Yet the committees--distracted by personnel disputes and a leak investigation--have not indicated that this sort of comprehensive probe is under way (the Senate Judiciary Committee did examine the FBI's handling of its botched investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, an alleged 9/11 conspirator, and identified numerous incidents of ineptitude).

    While the meandering September 11 inquiry is far from done, in recent months both committees released little-noticed reports (accompanying the intelligence budget they approved) showing that the systemic stuff is pretty awful. The Senate committee observed, "it is very difficult to determine how much money the Intelligence Community has budgeted for counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterproliferation." It complained that the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence bureaucracies are not "able to produce auditable financial statements"; that thousands of intelligence slots in the military go unfilled each year, including scores of analysis openings at the US Central Command, which is responsible for the fight against Al Qaeda; that the intelligence agencies' terrorist databases are a mess; that FBI training for counterterrorism agents is inadequate. The committee also groused that the "community" has repeatedly ignored Congressional requests for information.

    The House intelligence committee offered a grimmer assessment. It maintained that extra funding is being put "into an organizational framework that gives little indication of being prepared to produce intelligence capabilities that can address the national security demands of the future." The committee noted that "significant gaps in the Community's analytical capabilities are widening, and present opportunity for further surprise in national security areas." It implored Bush to act on the findings of a commission led by Brent Scowcroft, Bush Senior's National Security Adviser, which last year recommended placing the Pentagon's three largest intelligence-collection agencies, including the NSA, under control of the director of central intelligence. With that plea the committee was urging the reversal of a decades-long trend in which military imperatives--rather than political, economic or diplomatic concerns--drive the collection and analysis of intelligence. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, though, has thwarted such a shift.

    And a House intelligence subcommittee put out a brief September 11 report in July that cited fundamental flaws within the intelligence bureaucracy. "CIA's problems," it said, "require more than just expressed commitment from senior CIA managers...the subcommittee will be looking for deeds rather than words." Did that mean that the subcommittee, ten months after September 11, was still not persuaded that the CIA was acting vigorously to correct the institutional defects that led to the surprise of that day?

    Those reports, produced by committees traditionally cozy with the "community," hardly inspire confidence in the spies. They could cause one to wonder whether the committees are throwing money (the several billion dollars added post-9/11 to the classified $30 billion-plus intelligence budget) at a wasteful and disorganized bureaucracy. And the problems are probably worse than described. For years, the intelligence community has been plagued with fragmentation and insufficient coordination and dominated by military concerns as the bureaucratic rigor mortis that inhibits unorthodox thinking (as in how to better understand the world, rather than how to be like Bond) has deepened. Mel Goodman, a senior CIA analyst for twenty-four years, maintains that the "analytical culture" at the CIA has "collapsed" over time, leaving the agency without the ability to conduct effective long-term research and analysis. And Gregory Treverton, a senior analyst at the RAND Corporation and former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, notes that within the CIA "an emphasis to be fast and quick drives out the ability to think longer and harder" about subjects not in the day's headlines. He sensibly favors transforming the analytical side of the CIA into a much more open shop that publicly interacts with think tanks, academics and nongovernmental organizations. "We need to put together unconventional sets of people to get a deeper understanding, one with a more historical foundation," Treverton says. "But how that gets done is the question."

    Indeed. How do you get any bureaucracy--particularly a clandestine one--to behave creatively and responsibly? Inertia and infighting have often derailed well-intentioned intelligence reform (see Rumsfeld). Whatever its chances, fundamental reform--including demilitarizing intelligence, reshaping the bureaucracy and transforming internal values--is unlikely in the absence of a thorough, as-public-as-possible investigation into the errors of September 11, large and small.

    Taking on the intelligence community (and forcing a transformation) appears to be too much for the committees, which have been slow to hold public hearings. They have politely issued complaints, but they mostly have eschewed fingerpointing for handwringing. In a slap at the committees in July, the House approved legislation to establish an independent commission to examine September 11 intelligence issues. In the Senate, Joe Lieberman and John McCain have been pushing an independent review that would also dissect transportation security and diplomatic and military matters. The less than impressive performance of the intelligence committees "has made people in both houses look at the independent commission bill again," says one Democratic Congressional aide. The Administration opposes such a panel.

    In February CIA chief George Tenet testified that the agency had done no wrong regarding 9/11, and that the attack was not due to a "failure of attention, and discipline, and focus, and consistent effort." The committees ought to question his grip on reality. Yet they don't seem eager to disprove Tenet or to probe or challenge the covert bureaucracy. They show no signs of exploring all the intelligence and policy errors related to September 11. And so, they are unlikely to fix them.

    David Corn

  • One Year Later

    In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Americans experienced a mixture of fear and warmth, a quickening of the national spirit. The extraordinary heroism of the firefighters, police and others in coping with death and destruction rebuked the mood of "infectious greed" generated by this era of market dominance. Civil servants and soldiers, even government itself, were accorded new respect in the face of real dangers and collective need. These developments contained a hopeful thread for reconstructing our frayed democracy.

    Adding to the sense of possibility were the expressions of sympathy and solidarity from around the world. We Americans, so often the object of envy or criticism, found ourselves the recipients of a great outpouring of concern, with countries all over the globe condemning the callous, fanatical terrorism that could turn an airplane full of ordinary people into a weapon of horrific destruction.

    But the moment was brief and did not last. One year later, we mark not only the terrible loss of life suffered that day but the tragic failure of American leadership since then.

    Abroad, the Bush team's initial military victory in breaking up Al Qaeda cells and routing their Taliban protectors in Afghanistan has been tarnished by a stream of postwar revelations of needless civilian deaths from US bombs and of mistreatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. Meanwhile, the United States is failing the challenge of rebuilding Afghanistan, leaving its people facing the same chaos, violence and extortion that prevailed under the warlords whose depredations helped usher in the Taliban regime.

    America's early success in mobilizing an alliance against Al Qaeda has been squandered. Rather than pursuing a limited military action in Afghanistan designed to strike a swift blow against the terrorist leadership responsible for the attacks and then joining in a sustained, worldwide policing action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, the Bush Administration has exploited the tragedy as a license for an endless war against endless enemies. It has used September 11 to consecrate an American empire claiming the right to impose its writ worldwide.

    When the President targeted his spurious "axis of evil" and announced a new doctrine of "pre-emptive attack," he alarmed allies everywhere. As Jonathan Schell writes in this issue, Bush has claimed "a radically new conception of America's role in the world," asserting that it has "the right to overthrow regimes by military force at its sole discretion." And now, under this unexamined doctrine, the President and his national security team relentlessly tout inevitable war with Iraq, dismissing the opposition of many US generals and much of the Republican foreign policy establishment.

    Whether it is on the issue of invading Iraq or the desirability of an International Criminal Court or what must be done to bring about peace in the Middle East or the need to take seriously the dangers of global warming, the Administration disdains the opinions of even our oldest allies, making US leadership a source of resentment rather than hope. Such actions, South African Breyten Breytenbach writes, have led to the feeling that America is a cowboy state that "has made the world a much more dangerous place for the rest of us." No US government has been this isolated since the 1920s.

    While pursuing its grandiose Pax Americana, the Administration has failed to use this opportunity to honestly examine flaws in America's past policies toward the rest of the world, and at the same time it has pursued new policies that lose sight of moral means and goals. It dismisses any attempt to probe the roots of terrorist attacks. Merely asking, "Why do they hate us?" is deemed "objectively" pro-terrorist. Terrorism is defined as metaphysical evil, divorced from its context. Human rights as a foreign policy objective are jettisoned, and friendships are sealed--no questions asked--with repressive regimes that seem to be on "our" side. Russia, Indonesia, China, Pakistan and Egypt have been allowed to hijack the rhetoric of antiterrorism to justify repression of citizens opposing their current regimes. The lack of a coherent US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has allowed extremists to drown out the voices of peace.

    Bush's new international doctrines met with little dissent in the media or from Congressional Democrats, with the exception of brave legislators like Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Russ Feingold and John Kerry. Most Americans were seduced into passive consent, either prompted by fear of further attacks or cowed by an Administration that branded criticism as subversive. The media catered to the hyperpatriotic mood, praising Bush's every move and rarely, until recently, offering any critique of his Administration's actions.

    At home, the President issued no call for sacrifice. For the first time in our history, we were summoned to a global war for which the wealthy were asked to pay less in taxes, even as the federal budget plummeted into the red. The Administration larded the military with money, demanding billions for cold war weaponry and missile defense. It defaulted on the core national security imperative of reducing our dependence on imported oil, choosing instead to prop up feudal empires and dictatorships (insuring that we will be widely hated as a cause of misery and oppression in the Middle East and the rest of the world). After resisting for months, the President cobbled up a massive "homeland security" reorganization that omits any reform--and avoids any investigation--of the intelligence agencies and their failures leading up to September 11.

    John Ashcroft, Bush's Attorney General, has become the worst threat to civil rights and liberties since J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy peddled fear and division in the early years of the cold war. As David Cole writes, "With the exception of the right to bear arms, one would be hard pressed to name a single constitutional liberty that the Bush Administration has not overridden in the name of protecting our freedom." Ashcroft has asserted unprecedented license for the executive while insisting its acts be shrouded in secrecy. It is a measure of the Attorney General's extremism that his summary detention policies have been lambasted by the federal courts. In its first public opinion ever, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a conservative body that has never in its existence denied the Justice Department a warrant, decried Ashcroft's abuse of authority to undermine constitutional rights.

    And now, the Administration and the Republican Party--worried about the flagging economy, stock market collapse and corporate crime wave--attempt to exploit September 11 and the war on terrorism for partisan advantage. The President has used his post-9/11 popularity to raise unprecedented sums for Republican candidates. His political guru, Karl Rove, urges Republicans to "focus on the war" and advertise their loyalty to the President.

    The anniversary of September 11 should be a time of renewed, and genuine, patriotism as well as of grieving. But it should also be an occasion to reflect on where we've traveled in the past year and what changes in course need to be made. Americans who disagree with the direction in which this Administration is leading the country should start building an effective challenge to its policies, with an eye first on the fall elections--a challenge founded on the bedrock principles of justice, human rights and internationalism. Some things have changed, but those principles have not. Another world was possible before September 11. It still is.

    the Editors

  • Press Watch

    Roseanne Over Jennings

    Michael Massing

  • Changing History

    Editor's Note: One year after the attacks, Eric Foner assessed the impact of 9/11 on the way America tells the story of itself and readjusts its relationship with the world.

    All history, the saying goes, is contemporary history. People instinctively turn to the past to help understand the present. Events draw our attention to previously neglected historical subjects. The second wave of feminism gave birth to a flourishing subfield of women's history. The Reagan Revolution spawned a cottage industry in the history of US conservatism.

    Many years will pass before we can fully assess how our thinking about history has changed as a result of September 11. While historians ponder this question, conservative ideologues have produced a spate of polemical statements on how we should teach American history in light of recent events. In a speech less than a month after the tragedy, Lynne Cheney insisted that calls for more intensive study of the rest of the world amounted to blaming America's "failure to understand Islam" for the attack. A letter distributed by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which she once chaired, chastised professors who fail to teach the "truth" that civilization itself "is best exemplified in the West and indeed in America."

    In What's So Great About America, Dinesh D'Souza contends that freedom and religious toleration are uniquely "Western" beliefs. The publisher's ad for the book identifies those who hold alternative views as "people who provide a rationale for terrorism." With funding from conservative foundations and powerful political connections, such commentators hope to reshape the teaching of American history.

    Historians cannot predict the future, but the past they portray must be one out of which the present can plausibly have grown. The self-absorbed, super-celebratory history now being promoted will not enable students to make sense of either their own society or our increasingly interconnected world.

    Historians cannot choose the ways history becomes part of our own experience. September 11 has rudely placed certain issues at the forefront of our consciousness. Let me mention three and their implications for how we think about the American past: the upsurge of patriotism, significant infringements on civil liberties and a sudden awareness of considerable distrust abroad of American actions and motives.

    The generation of historians that came of age during the Vietnam War witnessed firsthand how patriotic language and symbols, especially the American flag, can be invoked in the service of manifestly unjust causes. Partly as a result, they have tended to neglect the power of these symbols as genuine expressions of a sense of common national community. Patriotism, if studied at all, has been understood as an "invention," rather than a habit of the heart.

    Historians have had greater success lately at dividing up the American past into discrete experiences delineated along lines of race, ethnicity, gender and class than at exploring the common threads of American nationality. But the immediate response to September 11 cut across these boundaries. No one knows if the renewed sense of common purpose and shared national identity that surfaced so vividly after September 11 will prove temporary. But they require historians to devote new attention to the roots of the symbols, values and experiences Americans share as well as those that divide them.

    All patriotic upsurges run the risk of degenerating into a coercive drawing of boundaries between "loyal" Americans and those stigmatized as aliens and traitors. This magazine has chronicled the numerous and disturbing infringements on civil liberties that have followed September 11. Such legal protections as habeas corpus, trial by impartial jury, the right to legal representation and equality before the law regardless of race or national origin have been seriously curtailed.

    Civil liberties have been severely abridged during previous moments of crisis, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to Japanese-American internment in World War II. Historians generally view these past episodes as shameful anomalies. But we are now living through another such episode, and there is a remarkable absence of public outcry.

    We need an American history that sees protections for civil liberties not as a timeless feature of our "civilization" but as a recent and fragile achievement resulting from many decades of historical struggle. We should take a new look at obscure Supreme Court cases--Fong Yue Ting (1893), the Insular Cases of the early twentieth century, Korematsu during World War II--in which the Justices allowed the government virtual carte blanche in dealing with aliens and in suspending the rights of specific groups of citizens on grounds of military necessity. Dissenting in Fong Yue Ting, which authorized the deportation of Chinese immigrants without due process, Justice David Brewer observed that, like today, the power was directed against a people many Americans found "obnoxious." But, he warned, "who shall say it will not be exercised tomorrow against other classes and other people?"

    September 11 will also undoubtedly lead historians to examine more closely the history of the country's relationship with the larger world. Public opinion polls revealed that few Americans have any knowledge of other peoples' grievances against the United States. A study of our history in its international context might help to explain why there is widespread fear outside our borders that the war on terrorism is motivated in part by the desire to impose a Pax Americana in a grossly unequal world.

    Back in the 1930s, historian Herbert Bolton warned that by treating the American past in isolation, historians were helping to raise up a "nation of chauvinists"--a danger worth remembering when considering the drumbeat of calls for a celebratory and insular history divorced from its global context. Of course, international paradigms can be every bit as obfuscating as histories that are purely national. We must be careful not to reproduce traditional American exceptionalism on a global scale.

    September 11, for example, has inspired a spate of commentary influenced by Samuel Huntington's mid-1990s book The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington's paradigm reduces politics and culture to a single characteristic--race, religion or geography--that remains forever static, divorced from historical development or change through interaction with other societies. It makes it impossible to discuss divisions within these purported civilizations. The idea that the West is the sole home of reason, liberty and tolerance ignores how recently such values triumphed in the United States and also ignores the debates over creationism, abortion rights and other issues that suggest that commitment to them is hardly unanimous. The definition of "Western civilization" is highly selective--it includes the Enlightenment but not the Inquisition, liberalism but not the Holocaust, Charles Darwin but not the Salem witch trials.

    Nor can September 11 be explained by reference to timeless characteristics or innate pathologies of "Islamic civilization." From the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction to Oklahoma City in our own time, our society has produced its own home-grown terrorists. Terrorism springs from specific historical causes, not the innate qualities of one or another civilization.

    The study of history should transcend boundaries rather than reinforce or reproduce them. In the wake of September 11, it is all the more imperative that the history we teach be a candid appraisal of our own society's strengths and weaknesses, not simply an exercise in self-celebration--a conversation with the entire world, not a complacent dialogue with ourselves.

    Eric Foner

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  • Columns

    Devil in a Blue Dress

    "My only regret with Osama bin Laden is that he did not manage to kill every member of the Wall Street Journal editorial staff."

    "In this recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about [George W. Bush's stolen presidency].... Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate."

    "We need to execute people like Ann Coulter in order to physically intimidate conservatives, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."

    First things first: Mr. Ashcroft, if you're there, I do not mean any of the statements above to be taken literally. I do not mean them at all. None of them. OK? What I do mean is to point out the incredible hypocrisy of those on the right, the center and the "liberal media" who defend the lunatic ravings of Ann Coulter, whether because she is "kidding" or because "the left does the same thing." (For those who have been lucky enough to have missed the Coultergeist of the past few months, the author of the summer's number-one bestselling nonfiction book in America has--in language identical to that above--expressed her regret that Timothy McVeigh did not blow up the New York Times building, mused aloud whether Bill Clinton should have been impeached or murdered, and called for the execution of John Walker Lindh in order to intimidate liberals.)

    It's degrading to have to write about Coulter again. As a pundit, she is about on a par with Charles Manson, better suited to a lifelong stay in the Connecticut Home for the Criminally Insane than for the host's seat on Crossfire. Her books are filled with lies, slander and phony footnotes that are themselves lies and slanders. Her very existence as a public figure is an insult to our collective intelligence. I should really be writing about the campaign by neocon chickenhawks to intimidate Howell Raines and the New York Times on Iraq. But fortunately, John Judis and Nick Confessore have taken responsibility for that, leaving me to the less ominous but more baffling phenomenon of the bestselling Barbie-doll terrorist-apologist, who continues to be celebrated by the very media she terms "retarded" and guilty of "mass murder" while calling for their mass extinction by the likes of her ideological comrade Timothy McVeigh.

    Make no mistake. Coulter may routinely call for the murder of liberals, of Arabs, of journalists, of the President, among many others. She may compare adorable Katie Couric to Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels and joke about blowing up the Times building. But instead of ignoring, laughing at or, perhaps most usefully, sedating her, we find Coulter's blond locks and bony ass celebrated by talk-show bookers and gossip columnists--even a genuine book reviewer--from coast to proverbial coast.

    Do I exaggerate? While promoting her hysterical screed against "liberals"--a category so large she occasionally includes, I kid you not, Andrew Sullivan--this malevolent Twiggy with Tourette's was booked on Today, Crossfire (as guest and guest host), Hardball, The Big Story With John Gibson and countless other cable and radio programs. She was lovingly profiled in Newsday, the New York Observer and the New York Times Sunday Style section. She was the Boston Globe's honored guest at the White House correspondents dinner. Her incitements to murder and terrorism have been cheered and defended in the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online. (The latter did so, moreover, despite her having termed its editors "girly boys" and behaving, in the words of the website's editor, Jonah Goldberg, "with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty.") And her publisher, Crown, says it has no plans to correct her lies in future editions. Why should they care? Is anyone holding them accountable?

    The slanderous nonsense she puts between hard covers, moreover, is selling not only to the caveman crowd, it's also receiving praise in such respectable outlets as the liberal LA Times Book Review and being quoted as constitutional gospel by alleged intellectual George Will on ABC's This Week. This despite the fact that Coulter's accusations have been as effectively discredited as Hitler's diaries. (The last time I checked, the folks at Tapped, the American Prospect's weblog, had compiled so many of these falsities it took them nearly 3,000 words to enumerate them. Coulter has also been ripped to shreds by dailyhowler.com, spinsanity.com, mediawhoresonline.com, Scoobie Davis Online and by Joe Conason in Salon. The most comprehensive compilation can supposedly be found at slannder.homestead.com. I cannot bring myself to actually wade into it.)

    So what's the deal? Is looking like an anorexic Farrah Fawcett and wearing skirts so short they lack the dignity and reserve of Monica Lewinsky's thong enough to insure the embrace of the national entertainment state no matter what you say, just so long as your murderous bile is directed at "liberals"? Would it have worked for Saddam if he wore a size 6? I really don't know. Naïve optimist that I am, when I first picked up Coulter's book in galleys in the late spring, I felt pretty certain we were done with her. I mean, how even to engage someone who terms Christie Todd Whitman a "birdbrain" (page 51) and a "dimwit" (page 53); Jim Jeffords a "half-wit" (page 50); and Gloria Steinem a "deeply ridiculous figure" (page 37) who "had to sleep" with a rich liberal to fund Ms. magazine (page 38)--all of which makes her "a termagant" (page 39)? Coulter's done far worse since, of course, and yet, like one of those Mothralike creatures that feed on bullets and squashed Japanese villagers, the monster continues to grow, debasing everyone and everything in its wake. Coulter jokes about McVeigh blowing up the Times, and the Wall Street Journal--which was blown up by terrorists on September 11--rushes to her defense. Their man, Daniel Pearl, was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. Have they no shame? At long last, have they no sense of decency left?

    Eric Alterman

  • The Tenth Crusade

    Amid the elegies for the dead and the ceremonies of remembrance, seditious questions intrude: Is there really a war on terror; and if one is indeed being waged, what are its objectives?

    The Taliban are out of power. Poppies bloom once more in Afghan pastures. The military budget is up. The bluster war on Iraq blares from every headline. On the home front the war on the Bill of Rights is set at full throttle, though getting less popular with each day, as judges thunder their indignation at the unconstitutional diktats of Attorney General John Ashcroft, a man low in public esteem.

    On this latter point we can turn to Merle Haggard, the bard of blue-collar America, the man who saluted the American flag more than a generation ago in such songs as "The Fightin' Side of Me" and "Okie From Muskogee." Haggard addressed a concert crowd in Kansas City a few days ago in the following terms: "I think we should give John Ashcroft a big hand...[pause]...right in the mouth!" Haggard went on to say, "The way things are going I'll probably be thrown in jail tomorrow for saying that, so I hope ya'll will bail me out."

    It will take generations to roll back the constitutional damage done in the wake of the attacks. Emergency laws lie around for decades like rattlesnakes in summer grass. As Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch points out to me, one of the main legal precedents that the government is using to justify detaining "enemy combatants" without trial or access to a lawyer is an old strikebreaking decision. The government's August 27 legal brief in the Padilla "enemy combatant" case relies heavily on Moyer v. Peabody, a Supreme Court decision that dates back to 1909.

    The case involved Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, a feisty Colorado trade union that fought for such radical reforms as safe working conditions, an end to child labor and payment in money rather than in company scrip. As part of a concerted effort to crush the union, the governor of Colorado declared a state of insurrection, called out the state militia and detained Moyer for two and a half months without probable cause or due process of law.

    In an opinion that deferred obsequiously to executive power (using the "captain of the ship" metaphor), the Supreme Court upheld Moyer's detention. It reasoned that since the militia could even have fired upon the strikers (or, in the Court's words, the "mob in insurrection"), how could Moyer complain about a mere detention? The government now cites the case in its Padilla brief to argue that whatever a state governor can do, the President can do better.

    Right under our eyes a whole new covert-ops arm of government is being coaxed into being by the appalling Rumsfeld, who has supplanted Powell as Secretary of State, issuing public statements contradicting offical US policy on Israel's occupation of and settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Rumsfeld has asked Congress to authorize a new under secretary of defense overseeing all defense intelligence matters, also requesting that the department be given greater latitude to carry out covert ops. Wrap that in with erosion or outright dumping of the Posse Comitatus Act (1878), which forbids any US military role in domestic law enforcement, and the silhouette of military government shows up ever more clearly in the crystal ball.

    The terrorists in those planes a year ago nourished specific grievances, all available for study in the speeches and messages of Osama bin Laden. They wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia. They saw the United States as Israel's prime backer and financier in the oppression of Palestinians. They railed against the sanctions grinding down upon the civilian population of Iraq.

    A year later the troops are still in Saudi Arabia, US backing for Sharon is more ecstatic than ever and scenarios for a blitzkrieg against Saddam Hussein mostly start with a saturation bombing campaign that will plunge civilians in Iraq back into the worst miseries of the early 1990s.

    Terror against states springs from the mulch of political frustration. We live in a world where about half the population of the planet, 2.8 billion people, live on less than $2 a day. The richest 25 million people in the United States receive more income than the 2 billion poorest people on the planet. Across the past year world economic conditions have mostly got worse, nowhere with more explosive potential than in Latin America, where Peru, Argentina and Venezuela all heave in crisis.

    Can anything stop the war cries against Iraq from being self-fulfilling? Another real slump on Wall Street would certainly postpone it, just as a hike in energy prices here if war does commence will give the economy a kidney blow when it least needs it.

    How could an attack on Iraq be construed as a blow against terror? The Administration abandoned early on, probably to its subsequent regret, the claim that Iraq was complicit in the attacks of September 11. Aside from the Taliban's Afghanistan, the prime nation that could be blamed was Saudi Arabia, point of origin for so many of the Al Qaeda terrorists on the planes.

    Would an attack on Iraq be a reprisal? If it degraded Saudi Arabia's role as prime swing producer of oil, if it indicated utter contempt for Arab opinion, then yes. But no one should doubt that if the Bush Administration does indeed topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Baghdad, this will truly be a plunge into the unknown, one that would fan the embers of Islamic radicalism, which actually peaked at the end of the 1980s, and amid whose decline the attacks of September 11 were far more a coda than an overture.

    Would Iran sit quiet while US troops roosted in Baghdad? And would not the overthrow of Saddam be prelude to the downfall of the monarchy in Jordan, with collapse of the House of Saud following thereafter?

    Islamic fanatics flew those planes a year ago, and here we are with a terrifying alliance of Judeo-Christian fanatics, conjoined in their dream of the recovery of the Holy Land. War on Terror? It's back to the thirteenth century, picking up where Prince Edward left off with the ninth crusade.

    Alexander Cockburn

  • War Against Iraq: The Context

    The terrorism war begins to sag.
    The perpetrator we were meant to bag
    Remains at large, and wartime fervor fades.
    Then Bush and all his hawkish White House aides
    Drop sanctions as the way to tame Iraq
    And say, "Without delay, we must attack."
    If that war sags, there's still a backup plan.
    It's war without delay against Iran.
    And when the zest for that war, too, has faded?
    That's easy: North Korea gets invaded.
    But then it's hard to think of what to do.
    Destroy Bahrain? Bomb France? Invade Peru?

    Calvin Trillin

  • Books and the Arts


  • The Art of 9/11

    Mama, build me a fence!

    Arthur C. Danto

  • A Green Ground Zero

    The debate over how to redevelop the World Trade Center site has revolved around several key concerns: the commercial interests of the real estate industry, the public's desire to embolden Manhattan's skyline with exciting architecture and the historic obligation to memorialize thousands of lost lives. As we continue to address and balance these concerns, let's also seize the chance to reclaim Ground Zero in the spirit of the twenty-first century, showcasing one of today's most inspiring and politically meaningful industrial movements: the revolution in clean energy.

    Imagine for a moment that the structures surrounding the memorial will be sheathed in an invisible skin of electricity-producing solar cells. During the day, while electricity demand is peaking, the buildings will silently, automatically produce energy. No power plants or transmission lines necessary. No greenhouse emissions. No need for oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. No risk of blackouts. No spiking electricity prices. Computer and phone networks, elevators, clocks, air conditioners and ATMs will all run simply, cleanly, like a crop of corn or a grove of trees, on sunlight. (The complex will be connected to the grid, drawing electricity when necessary--at night or on cloudy days--and pumping power back in when it creates a surplus.)

    These high-tech buildings will supply all the services and comforts of a traditional commercial or residential complex but require less than half the electricity because of their green design features: superinsulated walls and windows; highly efficient appliances and lighting, heating and cooling systems; and a motion-sensing laser system that will automatically switch off lights and equipment when not in use. Whereas the original World Trade Center complex guzzled nearly 100 megawatts of electricity a day on peak days, with associated emissions, the new complex will be a net-zero-emission development. Moreover, this mini-El Dorado of energy independence and its surrounding neighborhood will be designed to have minimal need for cars and trucks. Once there, visitors will be in the greatest walking neighborhood in the world. The three airports, Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark, will be connected by train to the downtown terminal, making it an easy commute. An expanded network of ferries connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and uptown will provide a fast and pleasurable way to get around. The heart of lower Manhattan will be knitted together by a clean, quiet street grid restored for use by pedestrians alone.

    "From both a technological and cost standpoint, this scenario is entirely possible," says Ashok Gupta, an energy economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Solar systems, fuel cells and energy-efficiency measures have already been implemented in the design of several skyscrapers in Manhattan, including the Condé Nast building at Times Square and the residential tower at Battery Park currently under construction. As clean-energy technologies become rapidly more sophisticated and affordable, a large-scale application at Ground Zero would galvanize their acceptance in the marketplace. As for transportation, fuel-cell-powered buses and taxis may be too expensive today, but already they're technologically feasible. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the Port Authority have approved additional rail connections for commuters beneath the new complex; they are also considering plans to depress the West Side Highway for a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and to add new ferry lines at Battery Park and on the East River.

    The opportunities are real, but they can't be realized without leaders. Yet neither Governor George Pataki, site developer Larry Silverstein nor Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed much interest so far. "Mr. Silverstein isn't really thinking about this," says his spokesperson. "It's just too early to get bogged down in these kinds of details." Pataki's office expressed a similar lack of initiative, saying the issues are important but not yet a priority. Alex Garvin, vice president of planning for the LMDC, was more assertive in his commitment: "We plan to establish standards for sustainability and green technology that architects will be not only encouraged but required to meet. But we can't get started on this now; it's too early to determine the details."

    Prominent green architects disagree. Robert Fox, senior principal of Fox and Fowle, the architecture firm that designed the Condé Nast building, says planners should adopt the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, the gold standard for sustainable building practices. "Now is the time to address this, at the beginning of the planning process," stresses Fox. "Sustainability measures must be incorporated into every aspect of the design, from the infrastructure of the water, sewage and electricity systems to the external PV-integrated paneling."

    It's a safe bet that the public will support much if not all of the larger zero-energy vision. In addition to the LMDC, two coalitions--Civic Alliance, representing more than 100 institutions, and New York New Visions, representing dozens of local architecture firms--have endorsed principles for downtown redevelopment that promote sustainable design and clean energy. Furthermore, there's impressive evidence that supports the use of clean-energy systems: Richard Perez, a scientist at SUNY Albany who's been tracking sunlight in New York City for more than ten years, has found that the average amount of sun that hits the city annually is only 12 percent less than that in cloudless Tucson.

    Right now the Pataki administration is considering a proposal to limit power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide 30-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Building a zero-energy complex and a state-of-the-art transportation system would advance these goals and address the mounting crisis of global warming, while making a clear statement about America's commitment to energy independence. Since September 11 many energy experts have called for a massive, government-funded research project, a "Manhattan Project of alternative energy" to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil. The opportunity for such an initiative now lies at the foot of Manhattan. Nothing would be more appropriate for a memorial to a traumatic past than one that points us in the direction of a sustainable future.

    Amanda Griscom and Will Dana

  • Map to Ground Zero

    The footprints of clashing interests.

    Philip Nobel

  • Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

    For the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

    Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
    and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
    a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
    the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
    Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
    glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
    Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
    worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
    that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
    for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
    Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
    even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
    rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

    Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
    like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
    Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
    could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
    Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,
    Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
    Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
    where the gas burned blue on every stove
    and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
    hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
    or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
    Alabanza. Praise the busboy's music, the chime-chime
    of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
    Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
    who worked that morning because another dishwasher
    could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
    to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
    floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
    Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
    and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

    After the thunder wilder than thunder,
    after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
    after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
    after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
    for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
    like a cook's soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
    about the bristles of God's beard because God has no face,
    soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
    across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
    Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.
    Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
    two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
    mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
    Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
    And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
    I will teach you. Music is all we have.

    Martín Espada's poem will appear in the Spring issue (#82) of Hanging Loose magazine and in Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002 (Norton), forthcoming in April.

    Martín Espada

  • Changing History

    Editor's Note: One year after the attacks, Eric Foner assessed the impact of 9/11 on the way America tells the story of itself and readjusts its relationship with the world.

    All history, the saying goes, is contemporary history. People instinctively turn to the past to help understand the present. Events draw our attention to previously neglected historical subjects. The second wave of feminism gave birth to a flourishing subfield of women's history. The Reagan Revolution spawned a cottage industry in the history of US conservatism.

    Many years will pass before we can fully assess how our thinking about history has changed as a result of September 11. While historians ponder this question, conservative ideologues have produced a spate of polemical statements on how we should teach American history in light of recent events. In a speech less than a month after the tragedy, Lynne Cheney insisted that calls for more intensive study of the rest of the world amounted to blaming America's "failure to understand Islam" for the attack. A letter distributed by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which she once chaired, chastised professors who fail to teach the "truth" that civilization itself "is best exemplified in the West and indeed in America."

    In What's So Great About America, Dinesh D'Souza contends that freedom and religious toleration are uniquely "Western" beliefs. The publisher's ad for the book identifies those who hold alternative views as "people who provide a rationale for terrorism." With funding from conservative foundations and powerful political connections, such commentators hope to reshape the teaching of American history.

    Historians cannot predict the future, but the past they portray must be one out of which the present can plausibly have grown. The self-absorbed, super-celebratory history now being promoted will not enable students to make sense of either their own society or our increasingly interconnected world.

    Historians cannot choose the ways history becomes part of our own experience. September 11 has rudely placed certain issues at the forefront of our consciousness. Let me mention three and their implications for how we think about the American past: the upsurge of patriotism, significant infringements on civil liberties and a sudden awareness of considerable distrust abroad of American actions and motives.

    The generation of historians that came of age during the Vietnam War witnessed firsthand how patriotic language and symbols, especially the American flag, can be invoked in the service of manifestly unjust causes. Partly as a result, they have tended to neglect the power of these symbols as genuine expressions of a sense of common national community. Patriotism, if studied at all, has been understood as an "invention," rather than a habit of the heart.

    Historians have had greater success lately at dividing up the American past into discrete experiences delineated along lines of race, ethnicity, gender and class than at exploring the common threads of American nationality. But the immediate response to September 11 cut across these boundaries. No one knows if the renewed sense of common purpose and shared national identity that surfaced so vividly after September 11 will prove temporary. But they require historians to devote new attention to the roots of the symbols, values and experiences Americans share as well as those that divide them.

    All patriotic upsurges run the risk of degenerating into a coercive drawing of boundaries between "loyal" Americans and those stigmatized as aliens and traitors. This magazine has chronicled the numerous and disturbing infringements on civil liberties that have followed September 11. Such legal protections as habeas corpus, trial by impartial jury, the right to legal representation and equality before the law regardless of race or national origin have been seriously curtailed.

    Civil liberties have been severely abridged during previous moments of crisis, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to Japanese-American internment in World War II. Historians generally view these past episodes as shameful anomalies. But we are now living through another such episode, and there is a remarkable absence of public outcry.

    We need an American history that sees protections for civil liberties not as a timeless feature of our "civilization" but as a recent and fragile achievement resulting from many decades of historical struggle. We should take a new look at obscure Supreme Court cases--Fong Yue Ting (1893), the Insular Cases of the early twentieth century, Korematsu during World War II--in which the Justices allowed the government virtual carte blanche in dealing with aliens and in suspending the rights of specific groups of citizens on grounds of military necessity. Dissenting in Fong Yue Ting, which authorized the deportation of Chinese immigrants without due process, Justice David Brewer observed that, like today, the power was directed against a people many Americans found "obnoxious." But, he warned, "who shall say it will not be exercised tomorrow against other classes and other people?"

    September 11 will also undoubtedly lead historians to examine more closely the history of the country's relationship with the larger world. Public opinion polls revealed that few Americans have any knowledge of other peoples' grievances against the United States. A study of our history in its international context might help to explain why there is widespread fear outside our borders that the war on terrorism is motivated in part by the desire to impose a Pax Americana in a grossly unequal world.

    Back in the 1930s, historian Herbert Bolton warned that by treating the American past in isolation, historians were helping to raise up a "nation of chauvinists"--a danger worth remembering when considering the drumbeat of calls for a celebratory and insular history divorced from its global context. Of course, international paradigms can be every bit as obfuscating as histories that are purely national. We must be careful not to reproduce traditional American exceptionalism on a global scale.

    September 11, for example, has inspired a spate of commentary influenced by Samuel Huntington's mid-1990s book The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington's paradigm reduces politics and culture to a single characteristic--race, religion or geography--that remains forever static, divorced from historical development or change through interaction with other societies. It makes it impossible to discuss divisions within these purported civilizations. The idea that the West is the sole home of reason, liberty and tolerance ignores how recently such values triumphed in the United States and also ignores the debates over creationism, abortion rights and other issues that suggest that commitment to them is hardly unanimous. The definition of "Western civilization" is highly selective--it includes the Enlightenment but not the Inquisition, liberalism but not the Holocaust, Charles Darwin but not the Salem witch trials.

    Nor can September 11 be explained by reference to timeless characteristics or innate pathologies of "Islamic civilization." From the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction to Oklahoma City in our own time, our society has produced its own home-grown terrorists. Terrorism springs from specific historical causes, not the innate qualities of one or another civilization.

    The study of history should transcend boundaries rather than reinforce or reproduce them. In the wake of September 11, it is all the more imperative that the history we teach be a candid appraisal of our own society's strengths and weaknesses, not simply an exercise in self-celebration--a conversation with the entire world, not a complacent dialogue with ourselves.

    Eric Foner

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  • Letters

    How 9/11 Changed Our Lives

    How 9/11 Changed Our Lives

    Hundreds of readers, aged 16 to 94, replied to our request for letters detailing how September 11 changed (or didn't) "your views of your government, your country, your world, your life." Many responses are personal: A husband and wife separate; family members no longer speak to one another; a woman searches for, and finds, her biological father--all impelled by the fallout of that day. New Yorkers--and others--report sleeping less soundly; a Brooklyn man leaps from bed in the night at the sound of crashing booms, rushes to the window... and finds it's a thunderstorm. A woman recovering from a Caesarean section watches the towers fall from her hospital room and wonders what sort of world her son, born the day before, will grow up in. A reader whose 9/11 birthday has become a deathday vows to light a candle this birthday "in hope for our world that one day 9/11 will become a day that...changed us for the better." Below is a selection.
          --The Editors

    Rolla, ND

    Largely because of my age--75--September 11 didn't change my life one iota. Except for this: My reaction to the fascist foragings of John Ashcroft and the dude who sponsored him, "Shrub," has been to rejoin the ACLU after an absence of twenty-seven years.


    K.W. SIMONS


    Columbus, Ohio

    How has my life changed since September 11? My life goes on much the same--except that I'm not living in America anymore. In America, people are not disappeared. In America, cherished constitutional rights are not abolished with the stroke of a pen. In America, disagreeing with the government doesn't make you a terrorist. In America, ordinary citizens don't have to wonder whether their e-mail is being read and phone conversations taped by government agents. In America, there is no Ministry of Truth (for telling lies) or Ministry of Love (for making war). America doesn't wage unending war. America doesn't casually threaten first-strike use of nuclear weapons. I see the nation I love, in its fear and rage, stinging itself to death like a scorpion.

    LINDA SLEFFEL


    New Haven, Conn.

    Our government's militaristic response to the crimes of 9/11 and the failure of the Democratic Party to challenge Bush's flawed and self-serving war on terrorism pushed me, after thirty-four years as an active antiwar Democrat, into working for the Green Party in our November 2001 municipal elections. Today, I am a Green Party candidate for the US House of Representatives.

    Unlike the "Arthur Andersen Democrats" and the "Enron Republicans" against whom I'm running, I am a patriot who is not afraid to challenge the so-called Patriot Act, which guts the Bill of Rights, or the "war" on terrorism, which has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, created more terrorists, earned more profits for military contractors and made the world safer for oil companies but more dangerous for the rest of us. Vote Green in November.

    CHARLIE PILLSBURY


    Valparaiso, Ind.

    September 11 changed my life because of the government's immediate response and continuing abuse of it as an excuse to erode civil liberties. So what have I done? I subscribed to The Nation for the first time ever (I'm 25), and so far have given away three gift subscriptions. I began giving money monthly to environmental and pro-choice organizations, as well as regular donations to the ACLU. Motivated by John Ashcroft's total disregard for the Constitution, I will be going to law school in the fall of 2003 to join the ranks of those who work on the side of justice that strengthens and protects civil liberties.

    KAYTIE FREY


    Alexandria, Va.

    I was in the Pentagon on September 11. Our office was on the opposite side of the building, and as we filed out none of us guessed how horrible it was until we saw, from the parking lot, the columns of smoke. That first evening, amid the shock and sense of loss, I thought, "This is what blowback really means." No one can excuse Al Qaeda's murderous hatred, but I now realize that this terror network was made possible by the arms and money we provided the Afghan mujahedeen during our demented anti-Soviet crusade. Those Americans who supported these thugs and psychopaths should be ashamed. Whenever I see that antidrug ad that claims that buying pot helps terrorists, I am reminded that our own cold war "patriots" helped to slaughter 3,000 people, and tried to kill me at my desk.

    JOHN ZAVALES


    Dania, Fla.

    Prior to 9/11 I spent my 83 years maturing in a cocoon spun by America's fuzzy, heroic image. While well aware of its flaws, I had been sustained by an aura of essential good will as we fought fascism, rebuilt Europe, forgave former enemies. My cocoon erupted on 9/11, and I emerged irate but deeply troubled by the vision of an America that would justify such an attack. I realized our Marshall Plan spirit had morphed into a superpower mentality, where political problems are solved by bombs rather than sweet reason: Witness Vietnam, Baghdad, Panama City, Belgrade, Afghanistan. With knee-jerk enthusiasm we've obliterated infrastructures and dealt out "collateral damage" to poor nations. No wonder we've become a target for organized hate. Can we curb our arrogance and revive our image as people of good will before we self-destruct?

    LLOYD EDWARD SLATER


    Bristol, Vt.

    I am of the generation that reached maturity in the 1960s and '70s. A time of struggle and pain, yes, but also of hope. We marched, fought, demanded a new world paradigm. Comes Reagan and my righteous generation finds greed. What then happened to that promise? Sweet upward mobility; the dawn of our renunciation. The 2000 election fiasco. A leader takes power by judicial coup and not a whimper from the streets, and I cannot comprehend. I am lost.

    September 11. Our hand is forced. The time for intelligence, discussion, debate, understanding, reflection has come, yes?

    No. Wrong again. Now we love our fear. Good versus Evil this is, and we joyfully surrender our liberties, our humanity and embrace a permanent state of war with an omnipotent, omnipresent enemy. Our new paradigm: sadism. I am not prepared for such a savage reversal of fortune. I am ashamed.

    MICHAEL TORRE


    Los Angeles

    After the savage attacks on September 11, I felt scared, angry, confused. Days later, I found my way to an interfaith service at All Saints Church in Pasadena. I was deeply moved by the scriptural readings, prayers and songs offered by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others. Out of that healing event, we created Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (www.icujp.org), which has been the center of my personal efforts to contribute to greater understanding and lasting reconciliation between people of all nationalities and beliefs. At a study group arranged by ICUJP, I sat next to an African-American Muslim teacher. He turned to me and said he didn't have a Torah. I responded that I didn't have a Koran. At the next meeting, we exchanged our holy scriptures. It brought us closer together, and we have become friends.

    STEPHEN F. ROHDE


    Bellingham, Wash.

    After the initial shock/grief came the stunned recognition of the despair and deep hatred felt against the United States, then finally the gut-wrenching knowledge that the vast majority of US citizens love being hated. They shower approval on the Administration and Congress for every piece of legislation that increases US killing power, entrenches inroads on constitutional freedoms and inflicts economic and physical handicaps and health hazards on all the populations of the planet.

    The Pentagon/Administration response to the "act" was so fast, the erosion of civil liberties so quickly and deftly accomplished, flags blanketed the continent so speedily and providentially--I can't help but think that the act of terrorism was not only expected but that contingency plans had been prepared months, perhaps years in advance--a Stalinist-type master plan. These duplicitous plans have been welcomed and incorporated into everyday living with hardly a ripple to indicate a residue of thoughtfulness or alternative possibilities.

    Yes, I am changed. I am ashamed of my country and bitterly acknowledge that there is no prospect of new directions.

    K.W. LEW


    Englewood, NJ

    September 11 changed my life by directing my 94-year-old, still-functioning wits and remaining energies from the sheltered smugness of an assisted-living home out again into the real world with a determined campaign to compel G.W. Bush to answer this key question: Why were no jets commanded to divert those three lethal hijacked planes after each had appeared off-course on radar and all failed to obey the orders of air controllers? Why, Mr. Bush?

    JANE SHERMAN LEHAC


    Tucson

    Liars! From the very top on down, my government does not know the meaning of the word "truth." In light of the billions of dollars we spend on electronic communication monitoring installations at Menwith Hill, Britain, and at several sites in the continental United States, we taxpayers have been deceived. Our NSA claims to have worldwide monitoring capabilities over all electronic communications.

    It is inconceivable that with all the electronic communications before 9/11, some intelligence was not deciphered and passed on to the appropriate officials. When, where, by whom was the necessary intelligence intercepted, interpreted, analyzed, collated and forwarded to the responsible agencies and parties? Polygraphs everyone?

    JAMES B. BURKHOLDER
    Colonel, US Army, retired


    Glenford, NY

    September 11 has reinforced all my negatives: suspicion of government motives; frustration at the perpetuation of failed policies; horror at the immense war budget; fear of nuclear proliferation; opposition to oppressive and domineering globalization; anger at support given to repressive regimes while raving and ranting at Cuba; despair that an equitable Middle East solution cannot override oil interests; and finally, that we are doing absolutely nothing to address the grievances of "terrorists" while eroding our own democracy and allowing degradation of the environment.

    GERTRUDE HAMES


    Nantes, France

    September 11 is an American hegemonical construct, a good guys vs. evil vision that is as much a part of American cultural imperialism as McDonald's or the latest Hollywood movie. Sycophantic French politicians and intellectuals (like Bernard Henri-Levy) quickly proclaimed that "we are all Americans." The result has been a frustrating diversion from the real issues. To limit the discussion to terrorism--who has the world's biggest arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? Who refuses to sign any treaty outlawing them, or landmines for that matter? Who--and for good reason--refuses to reject genocide or pre-emptive nuclear strikes? The biggest threat to world peace today is not minuscule terrorist groups but the US government. As an American who has lived in France for the past twenty years, for me September 11 epitomizes the self-centered worldview of too many of my countrymen.

    GENE ZBIKOWSKI


    Albuquerque

    I have not felt so alienated from this country since Nixon was elected to a second term after Watergate and all his misdeeds in Southeast Asia. I was so devastated by the instantaneous deaths of so many people, and then so appalled by the nationalistic frenzy, the lust for revenge and the level of pure propaganda in the mainstream media. So much emotional manipulation, so little cogent analysis. Having Bush in the White House made it all much harder for me, given his general ignorance of foreign affairs and his entourage of cold warriors. I have never appreciated the alternative press, especially The Nation, so much.

    BEVERLY BURRIS


    North Bend, Ore.

    I'm a Democrat and former Green Beret with a BA in political science and get my news primarily from ABC, NPR and BBC radio. After Al Qaeda spectacularly murdered a couple thousand Americans, we "brought death" to Afghanistan in retaliation, belying "Clinton's weakening" of our forces. That twice as many Afghan citizens died collaterally, many Americans died from friendly fire and Al Qaeda apparently returned to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, might bear investigation. No?

    On the home front, our Attorney General has, modestly, hidden Justice, and God knows what else, but the anthrax murders remain unsolved. Our National Security Adviser's patent culpability for the attack's success is unremarked upon. Republicans' malfeasance, ideological incoherence and compassionless corporatism, ever more glaring, go unchallenged. Do most Americans still want a national health plan? Yes?

    Nothing has changed, nor will it unless Democrats fix Dumbya and try a testicular implant (metaphorically speaking, of course!).

    GORDON STRASENBURGH


    Long Beach, Calif.

    September 11 is a lot about the enemy from without. But the enemy from without will never, try though it may, extinguish the American experiment. We Americans, on the other hand, are armed and capable of such a result. As I fear us more than them, September 11 has little changed my life.

    KEITH McCALLIN


    St. Louis

    I am of Indian origin and before September 11 learned to avoid racism by presenting myself in a relentlessly middle-class fashion. And if the precise diction, discreet deodorant and the late-model four-door sedan proved insufficient, then out came the race card. "Is my race a problem?" I would ask with a faint British intonation. I felt a sense of entitlement in challenging the closet racial profiler to deny his own prejudices.

    But 9/11 changed all that. My identity as a comfortably assimilated immigrant who moves easily among various cultures, languages and geographical regions has been shown to be a fragile myth. To the security guards at the malls, airports and theme parks around the country, I look like the sister of the nineteen hijackers. My cosmopolitanism, my ability to read ancient Tamil love poetry, my advanced degrees become irrelevant in the face of such appalling culpability.

    ANUSHIYA SIVANARAYANAN


    Harrisonburg, Va.

    "We'll never be the same," broadcasters kept pronouncing while replaying jets slamming towers. That sounded so false, from people worried about their makeup surviving marathon airtime. (Do I seem cold?) My firstborn son died from an auto accident on August 11, 2001. I don't expect to be the same. A month later, I felt families' desperate waits, dwindling hopes. Not the urge for revenge; I lacked that option. Leaders who scare me more than bin Laden jumped to exploit the revenge rush, while the "commentariat" lock-stepped in boosting an amorphous war, blowing off civil liberties. My faith in journalism tanked. I'm a freelance reporter. An apparent economic fallout from 9/11 was the folding of a little alternative magazine I wrote for. I still feel powerless, but better since visiting a conference to interview peacebuilders from several continents. Their spirits moved me. Accustomed to danger, children dying, they hadn't given up.

    CHRIS EDWARDS


    Flat Gap, Ky.

    Everything changed with the Supreme Court's appointment of George W. Bush, not with the events of September 11. Like a bicycle ride along a peaceful country road when a pack of dogs run out from nowhere and bite your ankle, any sense of security is now an open wound. Even the dogs on your own front porch become suspect and you lose your trust.

    CATHERINE S. WELLS


    Omaha Indian Reservation, Macy, Neb.

    On September 11, Ariel Sharon said all Americans are Israelis, learning that terror can strike anywhere, anywhen. With equal conviction, Yasir Arafat might have said all Americans are Palestinians, compelled to retaliation and pre-emption. Although these metaphors are apt, neither is accurate.

    Rather, it may be said with supreme justification that all Americans are Native American Indians, living under occupation by a hostile government ever ready to liquidate our life, liberty, property--our pursuit of happiness--in conducting an endless, self-righteous campaign.

    Presaging the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has extraordinary powers, employing DOJ, FBI, CIA and military enforcement and investigations. Intelligence responsibilities are debated, ignoring our experiences: Feds rarely uncover evidence; they create it, solving mysteries and preventing disasters only by expropriating the work of others. Their goals are to destroy, not protect; to master, not serve. Heed us, America. Our plight is yours--our history, your future.

    J. WILLIAM MORELAND
    Chief Judge, Omaha Tribal Court


    Legnica, Poland

    I'm a 73-year-old retired American academic who witnessed the events of September 11 on CNN here in Poland. Initial reactions: outrage, angry "patriotism" and a powerful helplessness. As reason replaced reaction, those feelings diminished.

    The attack? Inevitable. Built on US ignorance and arrogance and exclusion. Why do they hate us? Years of ruinous intervention and destabilization of Third World countries, especially those seeking self-determination in leftist political movements. September 11 unleashed religious and political fundamentalist zeal, a manic frenzy of "security" threatening constitutional safeguards.

    Polish officials assured me of protection. As an Arab-American, would I suffer abuse at home? Life-change? Yes. 9/11 sharpened my sense of responsibility for others. Sadly, the hatred that generated the attacks has not provoked objective intellectual examination of cause, has only brought a violent reactionary backlash effect. The conscience of America remains where it was: anesthetized by greed, racism, nationalism and impotent leadership.

    JAMES E. HASHIM


    Media, Pa.

    I drive tractor-trailers, tankers. I could do great harm to thousands of people without learning or buying a thing, with a good chance of getting away and doing it again. The fitful inspections of a few trucks after 9/11 are long gone. Since neither means nor opportunity need restrain anyone's hand for long, I was naïve enough to hope that 9/11 might launch some citizen debate on applying the golden rule to the rest of the planet. Our collective reaction to 9/11 has taught me that self-interest and intelligence are not as intertwined as I had hoped.

    MATT BECKER


    Cazadero, Calif.

    September 11 haiku:
       among the rubble
       the chickens come home to roost
       waking us up now

    SUSAN SEITZ


    Brooklyn, NY

    I am a songwriter and visual artist, and I thought I would go home that evening to document the day in words and images, but I found I couldn't. I just watched the smoke rising, from my window in Brooklyn. I found that there were experiences too deep for words or songs. That night I wrote in my journal:
      I have no songs to sing, until I can sing all songs
       I try to speak, but I have no voice until I can have all voices
       I would call on God but I think that God will only answer
       to all of his names, spoken as one.

    KEVIN ZIEGENHAGEN-SLICK


    Princeton, NJ

    There were oblique benefits. There was commercial-free network TV for four days after 9/11. The twin towers had been the worst hazard of all on the Atlantic flyway, and during three decades of autumn and spring migration on a few mornings, fallouts of thousands of shorebirds and passerines lay on the asphalt below them.

    The worst did not occur. If planes had been flown into the Indian Point and Three Mile Island reactors, probably failing to penetrate the containment chambers but destroying the surrounding cooling systems, there could have been millions dead and dying after meltdown.

    And there was unintended bathos. In the hours following, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf suggested that it might have been the Montana Militia.

    D.E. STEWARD


    Ithaca, NY

    What surprises and disappoints me is how little has changed since the terrorist attacks. I thought the horrific death and destruction on our own soil so clearly demonstrated hatred and resentment toward us that we would work ceaselessly to implement an evenhanded approach to Israel and Palestine. I thought our leaders would ask us to make some sacrifices, and we'd give up our SUVs and other aspects of our everyday life built on oil gluttony and being beholden to Saudi Arabia. I thought a successful attack with box-cutters would highlight the stupidity of "missile defense" and we'd begin to change how we spent our defense dollars. I thought we'd finally acknowledge we need transportation diversity and begin creating a healthy passenger rail system with less dependence on air travel. I thought we'd become less unilateral and work harder to build alliances and honor treaties. I was so wrong.

    JUDY JENSVOLD


    Stony Brook, NY

    September 11 has not changed my life. It has accentuated and invigorated my desire to return home, to Jaffa, Palestine, as soon as possible. I am a graduate student at a US university, and I have not felt as strong a desire to return to my culture, national history and values as in the aftermath of what has become an American right to a moment in time called "9/11."

    I came to this country with as little animosity as possible for a Third World colonized citizen, hoping to refute all I had learned as a child. I am about to leave with repugnance, wrath and hopelessness toward an arrogant, brutally hypocritical, mass-destructive autocracy, the United States of America, governed not only by its political head but by its willfully ignorant people.

    MARY GEDAY


    Daytona Beach, Fla.

    Having come to America from the Philippines, a country colonized by Spain and the United States and then brutalized by the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, I learned early the meaning and the beauty of freedom. The longer I lived here, the better I appreciated how precious freedom has been in all its manifestations.

    Then came September 11. In a matter of minutes, I learned that the thing I have held as so sacred in my life could also be fragile. Why, why? How could there be so much hate when America is the one country that has welcomed people of all colors, races and religious creeds to share in its blessings of freedom?

    September 11 taught me more than ever that America is worth fighting and dying for; that out of the ashes, we shall emerge stronger and more united, and that my adopted country will continue to be a shining beacon for the rest of the world.

    REMIGIO G. LACSAMANA


    Salem, Mass.

    I lost my brother to murder in 1984. Some people reacted with dismay that my opposition to the death penalty didn't change. Did they think this principle was based on some bizarrely naïve idea that people never commit terrible crimes? Or was it that the closer to home a perpetrator strikes, the harsher the appropriate punishment? A family conflict erupted after the murder: Was it legitimate to try to understand how these two young men had arrived at the point of committing this crime, to examine the social web of race and class in which they and my brother intersected, or was such an examination tantamount to offering an excuse for what they'd done?

    Change the details, and precisely these same tensions have characterized the public debate following September 11. I hope we Americans can work through them patiently and thoughtfully, as my family and I have had to do.

    AMY GLUCKMAN


    Gays Mills, Wisc.

    The events of 9/11 have strongly reaffirmed my commitment to my intentional community, Dancing Waters Permaculture Co-op, created to remove land from the debt cycle through collective ownership. Using consensus decision-making, our collective is a nonviolent attempt to demonstrate an alternative to the capitalist, consumerist ideology that the terrorists symbolically targeted when they attacked the World Trade Center.

    KATHLEEN TIGERMAN


    Bristol, Vt.

    The worst thing was going out into my yard while the towers were burning. My cats were there, our garden was a jungle and the Vermont day was so beautiful it hurt. My heart was pounding. I wondered if these simple things that brought me such joy would even exist for another month, another week, another hour.

    Unfortunately, with the White House occupied by people who make Dr. Strangelove and General Ripper look normal, I still wonder how long we will have our freedom or our lives. I can't say I am optimistic, but miracles can and do happen. Love must happen on earth, or none of us will survive.

    LINDA WIGGIN


    Garfield Heights, Ohio

    Having been involved with the movement to shut down the WHISC/SOA for several years, I sat in a bus stop in Cleveland after my school was evacuated on September 11 with the terrible feeling that these attacks were some sort of repercussion of US foreign policy.

    As the antiwar movement began to take shape, I became involved as soon as possible. I feel that a change in US foreign policy of militarization and neoliberal economics isn't just needed, it is imperative to the survival of this country, and possibly the world.

    I participated in the antiwar demonstrations on September 29, and many more since then. September 11 changed my life in the sense that I now feel that being a single-issue or armchair activist isn't enough, that I must be involved in what I believe and educated and involved in other people's struggles.

    ALEX IWASA


    Oxford, Ohio

    The first news I received of the attacks came from my government teacher. The tragedies of that day shocked me more than any event in my seventeen years. Something else that happened was almost as surprising to me. Alongside pictures of toppled buildings came pictures of people in other countries holding vigil for America. That people all over the world cared that much about America surprised me. I knew that we have friends and allies, but it never seemed they were that close to us. We don't seem to feel as much solidarity with others. Instead of doing our part in the world, we do things such as not participating in the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court. It seems we only act when our interests are threatened. America is shown great friendship by other countries--we need to learn how to give friendship back.

    HARRY NEACK


    Mt. Pleasant, SC

    September 11 made me, an 18-year-old living in the suburbs, much more cynical, and that's difficult to do. When our leaders had an unprecedented opportunity to lead, all I got was a bunch of talk (unless a behemoth military budget counts as "leadership"). And when I expected citizens to be shaken from their 1990s isolationist, stock-market-is-booming delirium, all I got was the irony of an SUV with huge American flags posted all over it. I really don't intend to sound rude or coldhearted; I was just as shocked, saddened and outraged when I saw the CNN footage. But unity and resolve are not jingoism. And a just response is not unilateralism and carpet-bombing. If the so-called Bush Doctrine is all the "change" I can expect from our leaders (and the willful submission of others, Democrats), then I wish I was ignorant enough not to care. The biggest tragedy of 9/11, aside from the appalling loss of human life, is one of missed opportunity on the part of the government and the failure of its citizens to call them on it.

    BRADY WELCH


    Alexandria, Va.

    I cannot identify with the notion that "nothing will ever be the same again." That's a young person's view. For those of us pushing 60, the world turned on its head when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed. With them died the strong possibility of social change. By the time Reagan took office, many of us had stopped caring. I know I did.

    Oddly, September 11 has made me care again. Not the attacks, which were an outrage, but the federal government's response--the so-called war on terrorism, with its shameful trampling of civil liberties, its reckless threats to engage in war against Iraq and its self-righteous moralizing about "goodness" here and "evil" there. I feel an urgent need to work for peace and nonviolence once again.

    JOSEPH BARBATO


    Price, Utah

    My quest to tell the truth led me in midlife to my dream career. I became a reporter for my hometown newspaper. There wasn't a lot of hard news, but the opinion page allowed me to explore broader issues and excite discussion in my community. That all ended on September 11, when exciting discussion became unpatriotic. Censorship and my ensuing protest cost me my job. Mainstream media, I learned, is often the purveyor of silence.

    But I have become the resister of silence. I print copies of antiviolence fliers from my home computer to plaster on windshields, and I have discovered independent media. The little girl who was afraid of the sound of her own voice spoke to a crowd on the steps of the State Capitol at a peace rally on April 20. The small-town reporter spoke the truth, and her voice was heard around the world.

    Orwell said, "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." On September 11 this middle-class, middle-aged middle American became a revolutionist.

    JACKIE ANDERSON


    Berkeley, Calif.

    The horrifying events of September 11 and the mushrooming horrors unleashed (war, racism, loss of civil liberties) have changed me. Disgusted by the vapid rhetoric of patriotism, I realized how profoundly I prize this continent and its progressive heroes and how repulsed I am by nationalism everywhere. I ache for a transformed world but am more uncertain how we will get there. We cannot be cast forever as sacrifices in someone else's nightmare: Bush's "limited nuclear war," religious fundamentalisms' apocalyptic wet dreams, capitalism's age-old werewolf hunger.

    As a lesbian, feminist, Marxist-humanist, I know that Bush, bin Laden, Sharon and Hamas would certainly agree to hate and silence me. So part of my struggle is to live: fiercely cherishing lovers, friends, allies and the beauties of this vital planet.

    JENNIFER RYCENGA


    Stanford, Calif.

    September 11 and its aftermath have made me afraid for this country. The attacks were tragic evidence that an America once loved and admired around the world is now an object of hatred. Instead of asking why, the Bush Administration and a complaisant Congress used the event as an excuse to kill more innocent people in Afghanistan, justify a bloated military budget, harass immigrants, jail suspects without charges, institute domestic spying and erode civil liberties in the name of "security." I worry about the callous brutality shown when our leaders debate over when and how to launch a war on Iraq, but show no concern for the thousands of Iraqi people who are certain to be killed in such a war. In short, I am afraid that in waging George Bush's open-ended "war on terrorism" America will become the most dangerous terrorist of all.

    RACHELLE MARSHALL


    Chapel Hill, NC

    As I watched the towers fall on TV from my home in Prescott, Arizona, on September 11, I shed tears not only for the horror and tragedy of the attacks, but also in anticipation of the reaction of our government at home and abroad. Later I headed two hours north to my favorite cathedral, the Grand Canyon, for some solitude, silence and perspective. I quit my job and now find myself back in my native North Carolina, about to embark on a PhD program in political science.

    People hear what I'm doing and say, Good luck changing the system. I say, Well, thank you. Because if at any age I ever lose my idealism and vision for global social, economic and environmental justice, I pray someone will put me on a bus to the canyon for a little perspective.

    JENNIFER E. WEAVER


    Claremont, Calif.

    I have been stunned by how a coup d'état can take place in America. The combination of irregular presidential election, traumatic terrorist attack, administrative control by radical conservatives and the intimidation and cowardliness of the opposition have achieved incredible changes. Our country now has an endless war policy, unilateral withdrawal from international agreements, illegal detentions, threats to constitutional rights and theft of the people's resources for military ends. The well-oiled evince a voracious appetite for world domination and homeland insecurity. I feel like an alien in my beloved land, now a place of nightmares.

    Can we wake up and reclaim our freedom? I work toward a community of communities across this land who dream a new vision and turn fear, suspicion and greed into generosity and justice for all.

    PAT PATTERSON


    Hawley, Mass.

    After the horror let go of my throat I thought, that's it, thirty-five years of work for peace and equality down the tubes. Our leaders will now have license to bomb anywhere, anytime, void the Bill of Rights and shoo away dissent with the flag. They won, we lost.

    But wait. History doesn't change course in a day. The world a year after the attacks looks a lot like the world before 9/11. Liberty imperiled as always, hard cheese for poor people and poor societies, our leaders choosing which tyrants to support and which to overthrow, the rich in power. But the loony system they rule is weaker, not stronger, than a year ago--is bumping into its own homemade contradictions. If anything, the terrorists deepened its confusion. I'm ready to rise up once more against it.

    RICHARD OHMANN

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