One year later, I would ask that the forgotten victims of 9/11 be remembered. Their names and stories were not printed in the New York Times and they have received barely any mention as a group let alone as individuals.Today is the first anniversary of the beginning of the war between Al Qaeda and the United States, a war that, no, the United States didn't start. While I have grave misgivings about some ways that the war is prosecuted and the necessity of an only dimly related conflict between Iraq and the United States, it is nevertheless true that Al Qaeda attacked the United States, and the United States is entirely justified in the pursuit of that conflict.
I am speaking of the civilian casualties, the "collateral damage," in Afghanistan.
One need not feel that the war in Afghanistan has been unjust or inappropriate, or that our military was callous or indscriminate in its choice of targets, or to "Blame America," to think that these indirect victims of the events of 9/11 deserve some consideration. Their deaths were a direct result of the events of 9/11, and the blame can be placed on those who planned and implemented the mass murder on that day.
The fact that some civilian casualties are an inevitable consequence of almost any military action does not make the deaths less tragic. Nor does my mentioning them imply that I am elevating the importance of their deaths above those Americans and non-Americans who died on 9/11. They are, however, also victims of 9/11, even if their deaths came later and their stories are not often told here.
Yes, Al Qaeda had reasons for doing what they did beyond simple envy and evil. Their hatred of the House of Saud, their loathing of the presence of the Infidel in the Holy Land, their hunger for theocratic purity born in the fire of a war between a theocratic vision of Islam and the secular West: all can be understood quite easily even by the westerners that they have declared war against. Even so, none of these reasons justify the attack on innocent civilians, whether strategically, tactically, morally, or by any other standards. The legitimate grievances of some parts of the world (even the middle east) against the foreign policy of the United States don't enter into this either; Al Qaeda isn't about the Palestinians (and vice versa), about the perceived exploitation and subjugation of the third world, about the problems of capitalism, or about any other such supposed political economic failing of the United States. They never were. Nor would any such grievance justify the attack on New York even if they were at the root of the whole thing- nobody could ever bring down global capitalism and American hegemony by destroying World Trade Centre. Or, for that matter, the Pentagon. It would be, and was, a gesture made even more monstrous by its uselessness.
So all I can possibly offer today is one word: Remember. Remember who did this, and why, and what they wanted. Remember the organization that was actually responsible, not just the tool they used. Remember the reasons they actually had, not the reasons that others give them. Remember why they thought this act would further those reasons, and how wrong, counterproductive, and self-defeating their reasons and their act were both pragmatically and morally. Remember the war they seek, and why it is so vital not to give it to them. Remember who the United States is really at war with, and who they are not.
Remember Osama Bin Laden.
Remember Al Qaeda.