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“A Descending Spiral Ending in Destruction
for All-Too Many”

by Paul Street
September 15, 2004

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I got the following interesting response to my 9/11 retrospective piece that went up a few days ago and is still on the ZNet top page.  The author is a European currently living in NYC: 

Dear Street,

Your article on 911 is entirely correct. I am a European living in New York and often get reactions from friends and family from around the world. The 911 attack must be understood from the horrible torture of never being heard.  The victims of America feel like Kafka’s protagonists, being opposed by a stone wall of non-comprehension and brute violence.  That explains the 911 attack. It is a psychological breach into the monolith that is America. The oppressed feel that no other means are ever available to them and if despite obvious warnings, America elects Bush in November, the pure necessity of survival will drive more and more of the world population to seek redress in acts such as 911 and place trust in such as Bin Laden because he had the means and the support to deal a resounding blow to this country.

In solidarity,

The writer’s comment about the “horrible torture of never being heard” reminded me of something Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech he gave in 1967:

“I will still raise my voice against riots and violence because I don’t think they solve the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy can end up leaving everybody blind....It’s all a descending spiral ending ultimately in destruction for all too many.  I am still convinced the greatest thrust can be made through militant non-violence.  But in condemning violence it would be an act of irresponsibility not to be as strong in condemning the conditions in our society that causes people to feel so angry that they have no alternative but to engage in riots.  What we must see is that a riot is the language of the unheard..”

There’s more worth reading in this speech delivered at Ohio Northern University sometime in 1967.  It can be read at: www/

The comment I just quoted and other things said in that speech hold some relevance to 9/11 and its terrible aftermath.  Post- September 2001 American policy makers have committed “act of irresponsibility” that King described.  They have done so with a savage imperial vengeance visited on people who had nothing to do with the jetliner attacks. There is no meaningful “mainstream” US discussion of the conditions and US policies (and the interaction of these) that create Islamic terrorism and a widespread sense even in the Muslim mainstream that the US deserved 9/11 and will deserve more and bigger 9/11s.

Every US football game yesterday began with solemn remembrance of the people who died on 9/11 and I suppose there were more than a few references to the now more than 1000 US troops who have died in Iraq.  What about the 13,000 plus Iraqis civilians who have died ( as a consequence of our misdirected and (sorry) racist response—not to mention the thousands of innocent Afghans who have been killed?  They are next-to-invisible - deleted from history - in the Orwellian version of history created by dominant “mainstream” (corporate-state) US media.

In his best-selling book Imperial Hubris, CIA analyst “Anonymous” says that Islamic extremists and indeed much of the Muslim mainstream hates America “for what we do [our imperial foreign policy in the Middle East], not who we are.” But stupid and imperialist is as stupid and imperialist does and maybe an arrogant Empire is what we are or at least what too many of us have quietly, meekly --- shame on us --- let our masters make us become.

Last night’s Chicago 10 O'Clock News on ABC (WLS) I think (the local late night news is generally underestimated by left media critics) featured an extremely smiley and well-tanned middle-aged woman at a local family barbecue who told Chicagoland television viewers that she was more than happy to have given up her dead son on the Iraqi “battlefield” last year because now he’s “part of history,” meaning of course the march of freedom as defined by George W. Bush. No mourning in that household.  A handsome smiling anchor man commented on the “great contribution” this young man and the rest of the dead 1000 had made to the human experience. 

Meanwhile roughly 1 percent of Iraqis think America invaded to spread democracy.  The imperial killing lines are still operating at a rapid pace in Iraq though dominant US media has predictably answered Bush’s wishes by taking THAT inconvenient story off the front page after collaborating with Bush in creating the myth that Iraq has been given back its “sovereignty.”

In some ways, the media masters are the worst criminals of all. 

Yes, I imagine a return engagement for the Bush Crusader cabal will invite more attacks but sadly it appears that Kerry’s Middle Eastern policy would provoke much of the same. 

King called himself a democratic socialist (and strongly opposed the imperialist war on Vietnam) by the way - something that gets filtered out by the corporate creators of his iconic mainstream image. 

Paul Street is a writer and researcher in Chicago, IL. He can be reached at

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