By Joe Grogan
We are in the middle of the federal election. We must focus on holding our politicians accountable, while giving our support to those who have earned our trust through their actions and integrity. At the same time, we must never forget what 9/11 taught us and how it affected our lives and those of millions more people around the world. Why pause to reflect? Let’s consider what this partial record of 9/11 history reveals – and what hatred and violence produce.
The Attacks on New York and Washington – 2001
The planes that attacked and crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were an expression of the hatred many people in the Middle East have for America. Why these two places, I wondered. Only later did it occur to me that both locations were an expression of the enormous economic and military power of the United States. Like everyone, I was horrified by the terrorist attacks on the heartland of a neighbour seen as a friend. Of particular concern was the fact that those killed were innocent, regular people just like us. As for the terrorists, I was both horrified and astounded as to what motivated them to commit these crimes.
When these attacks occurred, I was getting ready to teach my sociology course and was told by one of my students that planes had hit the World Trade Center. Minutes later, I realized that these events were not accidents. On arriving at my class, most of my students and myself were upset and very concerned about what could happen next. Privately, in my heart, I knew that the United States would respond with its own violence. To my anxious students I remarked, “If you believe in prayer, now is definitely the time for prayer.”
The world saw additional violence in both Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing more death, destruction and upheaval around the world. We’ve also seen the growth of Islamophobia, including in Canada, where there has been also more racism and attacks on minority populations. Since then, I have also noted that people now seem to be less open and trusting.
The Other 9/11: Chile – 1973
The terrible events of 2001 reminded me of another 9/11, in 1973. On that day, a military coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected Chilean president, took place. This was a coup engineered and encouraged by the administration of U.S. President Nixon, which was concerned that American economic and political interests might be affected. The military coup viciously attacked Chile’s government, resulting in the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people. The Hollywood movie “Missing” clearly illustrated some of the tragic history and its effects on Chile, turning one of Latin America’s strongest democracies into a military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. This coup was a terrorist attack on Chile’s own people, resulting in the disappearances and deaths of many innocent Chileans – actions taken by the military-led junta.
We live in a country with a very fragile democracy, a democracy that is not perfect. As we exercise our democratic vote, let’s do so in a careful and respectful way – mindful of how hatred affects all.