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the insider one daily report


Friday, Sept. 14, 2001

Cut The Flag-Waving

Neumu's Michael Goldberg writes: The station wagon contained a father and his teenage son. It was driving down Broadway in Sonoma, toward the Sonoma square, the center of town. From a flagpole at the back of the car an American flag flew.

I felt sick.

This is not the time for nationalism. This is not the time for American flag-waving.

George Bush has declared war. We are going to find the evil and wipe it off the face of the earth, he said. We are good, these terrorists are evil, he said. Yes, what the terrorists did was horrifying beyond belief. What they did is evil. But that doesn't mean that the United States is blameless. It doesn't mean that this is, like some '50s Western, white hats and black hats.

We, the United States, are not always good. In fact, we have done some very evil things too. Slavery was evil. Placing Japanese-Americans in camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor was evil. Our Iran-Contra dealings under Ronald Reagan were evil. Our support of dictators who serve our ends is evil.

So as the flag-waving and patriotic bullshit moves into ever higher gear, we might consider the alternatives to huffing and puffing and bombing the hell out of whoever we decide is to blame for those indefensible acts of terrorism.

In many parts of the world the United States is perceived as a big bully that throws its weight around. In a piece on the New York Times' "Op-Ed" page Thursday, Thomas L. Friedman wrote that many terrorists and supporters of terrorists "hail from failing states in the Muslim and third world. They do not share our values, they resent America's influence over their lives, politics and children, not to mention our support for Israel, and they often blame America for the failure of their societies to master modernity."

We all need to understand the context in which Tuesday's events occurred. A chain of events over many years has created the kind of unbearable living situations that drive people to terrorism. I don't begin to understand all that has gone down in the Middle East over the past decades. But as we well know, a deep-rooted hatred has festered. There are people who hate America, and Americans, and it's not a big mystery why.

Bringing those who were responsible for the horror that took place this week "to justice," as Bush put it, will not end terrorism in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world.

What is needed is statesmanship combined with international cooperation. Unless the problems that cause people to turn to terrorism are solved, there will only be more death and destruction.

And if you want to wave a flag, how about waving one with a peace symbol on it?

The InsiderOne Daily Report appears weekdays at 9 AM PST, except when it doesn't.

by Michael Goldberg



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