They Hate Us For Our Freedom

2011 September 20
by Ando Arike

"Freedom Tower," now renamed "One World Trade Center"

The massive steel frame now begins to hulk above Manhattan’s downtown skyline, rising slowly, floor by floor, from the metaphorical ashes of the World Trade Center. Recently, on the evenings of September 10th and 11th, thousands of bulbs glittered red, white, and blue within the ironwork, while alongside, two giant searchlights focused their beams into the heavens, memorializing the victims of that day ten years ago when the Twin Towers collapsed. Originally called the “Freedom Tower,” this edifice, which will be 1,776-feet tall (get it?) when completed in 2013, was supposed to be a monument to the American political system and our determination to prevail in the face of catastrophe. But, apparently, as New York Magazine recently reported, when it came time to begin renting the tower’s 2.6 million square feet, management decided that the name was a marketing liability, too reminiscent of tragedy and too evocative of the ghosts of 9/11 — it was feared that potential tenants would shy away. So, ironically, “Freedom” was abandoned and the building renamed simply “One World Trade Center.” Commerce, as usual, trumps all else.

But, of course, who in their right mind would want to work in a 102-story office tower that seems to advertize itself as a target for a repeat attack? Especially when nearly every aspect of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 has made this country increasingly hated around the world, particularly in the Arab and Muslim nations that have borne the brunt of our imperial aggression. Indeed, the so-called Global War on Terror has multiplied a hundredfold the grievances that provoked the original 9/11 attacks, sowing resentment and the desire for vengeance everywhere our troops and missiles have landed. When next will we reap what our leaders have sown?

Consider what the Defense Science Board Task Force told Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a 2004 report:

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering… American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims.

How many of the hundreds of thousands Iraqis killed during the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation left behind loved ones now dreaming of vengeance against Americans? How many Afghan and Pakistani children killed by U.S. remote-control drones leave behind families nursing dreams of bloody retribution? And now Yemen, Somalia, and Libya light up the Empire’s gunsights, in addition to dozens of other nations where our Special Forces are waging war under a cloak of secrecy. If and when the blowback comes, will our leaders again explain that “they hate us for our freedom”?

Listen to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born U.S. citizen living in Yemen whom the Obama administration has repeatedly — and so far unsuccessfully — targeted for summary execution by Predator drone, apparently for the “crime” of speaking his mind. From al-Awlaki’s 2010 “Call to Jihad”:

We the Muslims do not have an inherent animosity towards any racial group or ethnicity. We are not against Americans for just being Americans. We are against evil and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What we see from America is the invasion of Muslim countries, we see Abu Ghraib, Baghram and Guantanamo Bay, we see cruise missiles and cluster bombs and we have just seen in Yemen the death of 23 children and 17 women. We cannot stand idly in the face of such aggression and we will fight back and incite others to do the same.

…America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in non-violent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim.

Listen to Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square car bomber, at his June 21, 2010 court appearance:

I want to plead guilty and I’m going to plead guilty a hundred times forward because until the hour the US pulls it forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking US, and I plead guilty to that.

Listen to Osama bin Laden himself from his 1998 fatwa:

…for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples…

All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger, and Muslims. And ulema [religious leaders] have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries.

"One World Trade Center" circa 9/11/11: 66 floors of 102 (center, with cranes)

With these calls-to-arms in the geopolitical background, One World Trade Center will soon assume its prominent place on the Manhattan skyline, a building cursed, haunted, and laden with bad conscience — and, yes, perhaps already a vengeful gleam in some young jihadi’s eye. Despite the potential for catastrophe, more than three-quarters of the tower’s space is already leased, with tenants that include mega-publisher Condé Nast, which plans to move its headquarters and other operations here from their present location in Times Square. Condé Nast publishes some of the leading magazines in the United States — The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour, Wired, Self, GQ, and Architectural Digest — and one can only imagine that the writers, editors, critics, and fashionistas of this cultural colossus will understand their relocation as a sort of sacrificial offering, and be transformed by it into a joyless, tense, and paranoid lot, jumping at every loud bang or dropped champagne glass, and bristling with a mirthless gallows humor. Alcoholism and drug abuse, already plagues in the literary and fashion industries, will doubtlessly increase, as the stench of moral and spiritual decline filters through the corridors like embalming fluid fumes through a funeral parlor. I imagine Vogue models, dizzy with nameless guilt, leaping to their deaths from the observation deck, as staff writers from the New Yorker try to justify the Pentagon’s latest overseas adventure. In short, they will join the rest of us in this dying Empire, hostages to its Global War of on Terror.

One Response leave one →
  1. 2011 September 28
    mattyc2 permalink

    Nice one Ando! It’s a shame people have a lack of regard for others, where are our morals? Then, it’s people like ourselves who get ridiculed as not patriotic when we oppose wars- that we know for a fact- are illegal and illegitimate.

    It’s quite sad that you have to blog about the horrible periods we’re living through, but once again, I admire people like you- people who decide to write truth. Do you ever ask yourself whatever happened to “investigative journalism?”

    It’s unfortunate there aren’t more writers like yourself, stop by the OccupyWallStreet protests, you might see me around! I head there after breaks from classes.

    -Matthew Cruz

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