The Two Way Street

Politics for a New Generation


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Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?

Osama Bin Ladin has been killed, say senior white house officials

Waiting for Obama to speak on Bin Ladin's death

When the twin towers fell, I was only in 1st grade. The photos that evoke tears in so many Americans, in all honesty, never registered to me emotionally; I look at them the same way a modern Christian looks at a cross (an image meant to create shock and horror, since it was a form of execution), I know what it’s supposed to symbolize, and yet I have no emotional reaction them. I remember my mom trying to explain the even to me, mentioning words like “Taliban” and “Terrorism”, none of which meant a thing to me at the time, as we pulled out of the circular drive of my elementary school. It was all a blur of strong parents wiping away tears and omnipotent teachers breaking down in front of their classes, who hadn’t a clue what was going on. Some of the older kids were informed of what had happened, but maybe they thought it would scare us too much, or maybe they figured we’d never really get it (which we didn’t), so they left it to our parents, all of whom picked us up early after school to tell us what had happened.

Obama's address to the nation streaming live on msnbc.com

When I first heard the news of Bin Ladin’s death, I was overjoyed. A news junkie enjoying a quiet evening, I received a breaking news tweet saying that obama had called an emergency press conference to announce something related to foreign policy, I opened up my laptop and began searching for live streaming footage from the White House. Upon seeing on CBS News’s website that Bin Ladin had been killed, I immediately called my family, and began to rejoice, as would be expected. I’ve been waiting for this day more than half of my life, and to see it finally come is an experience beyond words. From the “War is Not the Answer” signs that popped up in yards and on bumper stickers, to the capture of Saddam Hussein (and the talk of why Bin Ladin still hadn’t been found), up until today’s events, I’ve been waiting for this moment to come. But as a lot of people, myself included, are forgetting, is that this evil man was a person, that his wasn’t the only life lost, including that of a woman used as a human shield. There is no victory without collateral damage.

Anyone else see the iconic tea party "Don't tread on me" flag in the crowd?

I can’t help but wonder that the death of a human, no matter how terrible he was, can elicit such massive celebrations. I wonder if this is how supporters of Al Qaeda reacted to the news of the 9/11 attacks. When we forget the humanity in us, the humanity in each other, we see things like the horrors of September 11th. It’s natural for one to take some sort of comfort in the death of an enemy, but as we’ve seen over the past 10 years, the hatred of a particular, extremist group of Muslims has often grown and been distorted into a categorical hatred of all Muslims within the United States, outlining the hunger for an us-versus-them (or U.S.-versus -them) mentality among low-education Americans. We also forget that suicide bombers were once ordinary people: the easiest way to get an education is some Middle-Eastern and Southwest-Asian countries is though extremist organizations looking for recruits. In our War on Terror, both sides have lost track of our humanity, and the humanity of our opponents. Forget about Osama Bin Ladin, Terrorism, and Radical Islam: forgetting the significance of a life is what caused 9/11.

Check back in for more updates on the Bin Ladin story; results; repercussions; predictions.

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BASTARDS?

The cover of the examiner from 9/12/01

Nine year ago today, the cover of the San Francisco examiner read in bold, capital letters BASTARDS! At the time, this seemed reasonable. People read the enormous letters as a collective speech bubble above the head of America. They were depressed, they were terrified, but most of all, they were furious. They were furious with Al Qaeda, furious with the middle east, furious with the TSA, furious with the CIA, and furious with God for letting something so tragic and horrific happen to America. As the smoke and debris from the burning symbol of American capitalism smothered the financial district, and anger previously unknown to the nation boiled under its skin. The subtitle, beneath the giant bold letters, beneath the plumes of fire and ash exploding from the building, nestled between thick black lines, sat the words they should have read, the words that, nine years later, commonly sit upon our tongues, the words, that at the time seemed insignificant but now stand as tall as the towers once did: “A Changed America”.

Today a common reference point for our lives, 9/11, stands as the day we lost our sense of security. It was the first attack to the homeland, aside from the distant Pearl Harbor since the war of 1812, since America became a world of power, since America transcended the status of “nation” to become an idea. And we, cowering in the proverbial corner, realized that this idea was being attacked, and, brought America to her feet to stand up for our ideals and way of life. But, rather than seeing the smaller red letters at the bottom of the page, we stood up, the big, black, bold anger running through us, and with the enormous insults and anger running through our bleeding red, white, and blue veins, we lost sight of what the terrorists were attacking: freedom.

9/11 is often referenced as the end to privacy. From the Patriot Act, to taking off your shoes, sweaters, bags, hats, and jewelry at the airport, to various 4th amendment violations for those accused of terror, we’ve allowed our privacy to be invaded to epic degrees to avoid a reprise of that horrific day. But beyond our privacy, beyond abandonment of 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendment rights for those suspected of terror, lies another, perhaps worse change that 9/11 has brought us: many of us live in fear and hatred of Muslims. While the cover of the examiner may have been referring to the select few radicals who planned and executed the hijackings, Far too many Americans took this to mean the entire religion, took the radical fringe to be the entire religion, and their anger at the injustice festered into a deep-seated hatred, scape-goating the entire Islamic religion for the actions of a few deeply disturbed, brainwashed lunatics, allowing them to transcend the entire religion’s history of peace, love, and tolerance. Among the graves of the many unfortunate victims from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of heroes in Pennsylvania lays, with no headstone to mark it, with its loved ones in denial of its death, lays America’s tolerance.


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How Russia is Responsible for Al Qaeda, The Taliban, and Every Other Problem in the Middle East

In 2002, the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the radical, newly installed regime that toppled the Northern Alliance the day before 9/11. In December of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, toppling a long-standing, stable monarchy. In the January of the following year, the united states led by senator Charlie Wilson and CIA operatives began supplying the Mujahadeen, or Freedom Fighters with missiles, and then training. Soon, the U.S. was training freedom fighters from all over the Muslim war to combat the Communist Russians. Once the soviet Union finally left Afghanistan, the Afghani Mujahadeen began to morph into a new group, a group that wore black paint around their eyes, grew long beards, and kept their women in burqas. They called themselves the students of Islam, or the Taliban. Many of the out of state mujahadeen, formed another group, Al Qaeda, meaning, The Base. At first Al Qaeda was not pitted against the US, focusing their energy on local governments, but then, in 1995, in the midst of a battle with the Soviets for Saudi oil, Osama Bin Ladin, the group’s leader, was kicked out of Saudi Arabia under pressure from the United States, Upon which Bin Ladin declared war on the US.

There are other connections to other conflicts as well, such as the willingness of the former soviet state to sell arms to the highest bidder, allowing for groups such as Hammas to assemble an arsenal. Old soviet weaponry is all over the middle east in the hands of both governments and extremist groups, some of it sold, others discarded during the soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The first Gulf War was initiated, partially, because George Bush Senior knew that Republicans made popular wartime presidents, and felt that a war would assist his re-election. The conflicts in Iran, as mentioned in a previous article, have increased severity because, first, Russia is supplying Iran with many of its weapons, and supplies for nuclear bombs, mostly because of Russian dependence on Iranian oil. On top of that, not only is Russia supplying Iran, they would also back them up in the case of war with the United States. There are two things to be learned from this history lesson. First, oil is political currency, and second: Russia caused the troubles in the middle east. The collapse of an empire will inevitably end in conflict for the land within, as exemplified in the end of World War I into II and II into the cold war. In the modern world of America, New enemies and demons will inevitably spring from the carcasses of the old, and, unless we change, to borrow the world of Martin Luther King jr, “hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”


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What We’d Rather Forget

It was the day the world watched us learn to be afraid. I was in the first grade, and I sat for two hours listening to  “Katie, your mother is here to pick you up,” “Billy, your father is here to pick you up,” “Bennett your big sister is here to pick you up,” coming over the P.A. I hadn’t an idea what was happening, and I sat, crying to myself, wondering why everyone was leaving. Anyone you ask can tell you exactly where they were when the first plane hit the North Tower, whether it be at a coffee shop two blocks away, or at home, on the other side of the country.

Currently, congress is debating over whether to make 9/11 a national holiday. Some say that a holiday would be perfect to remember those who died respectfully, and yet others feel a holiday wouldn’t be somber enough. But unlike most articles you’ll find here, I’m not going to tell you what to think, nor what I think. Honestly, I’m not sure myself. But what I will say is this, a quote from Elie Wiesel “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”


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Terrorism- Not as We See It

     What do the shootings of  the guard at the Holocaust Museum and Dr. George Tiller, the abortion doctor, have in common? They were both killed within the late summer, Both were killed by far right Evangelicals who were not a part of, but associated with groups who failed to rule out violence as a option to eliminate what they were against- and they were victims of terrorism.

    Since September 11, 2001, Americans have instantly thought of a 25 year old Muslim, trained by Al Quaida, Blindly hating this country as the face of terrorism. We have narrowed the definition of Terror to only include foreign born hatred, and forgotten White Supremacists who were once the ones we feared.

     Names like Michael Ayers and Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) [Cited http://social.jrank.org/pages/1318/Terrorism-Domestic-Terrorism-Before-September-11-2001.html%5D no longer carry the fear and sorrow that they once did. Many say that there is no longer a reason to fear terror from within. Some will say that the Holocaust Museum shooting and the assassination of Dr. Tiller are tragic but isolated incidents- by, to use the words of Donald Rumsfeld commenting on Abu Grab, “a few bad apples acting alone.” But their numbers are growing.

     But hidden among the celebrity gossip and “Making a Difference” [copyright NBC] reports on March 16, 2009, there was a story of a man, Millionare  who who was killed by his wife after repeated abuse, upon which the ingredients for and literature on making a dirty bomb was found within his house. He was a member of the Nazi party, and an avid collector of Hitler memorabilia, and was missing only a few chemicals to make the bomb.

     “Should this guy have been found out, I don‘t know, before he died and post-9/11, have we focused too much on stopping bin Laden again at the expense of potentially stopping the next Timothy McVeigh?” Before Rachel Maddow said this on her show, few had ever acknowledged that post 9/11 america was still vulnerable to domestic terror; this still may be the case.

     But why are Americans so reluctant to admit that we have as much of a threat from an old man living in a small town in, say, Missouri, as from the Al Quaida and Taliban in Afghanistan? Perhaps it may be that we as a culture are more adept to an “us vs. them” war on terror. Or maybe this is because  of our prejudice against a religion we don’t understand, so it’s easier for us to stereotype all Muslims as “evil.” Or maybe we just want to avoid a witch hunt.

     I’m not saying that it will be easy to root out the future Unabombers without violating constitutional rights, but at least we must discuss preventing domestic terror. There are too many lives at stake to do nothing. In my opinion, the threat level should have been red for a while.