19th September 2001
PERHAPS by the time you read this I will have woken up and it will all have been a dream. None of it will have really happened.
I heard about the plane flying into the Twin Towers about 10 minutes after it happened. By the time the second tower had been hit we had rigged up a TV here in the office of The People and we watched as the Towers collapsed and the huge human tragedy unfolded before our eyes.
Over the next 48 hours I heard from people I know who were at the Towers when it happened. I have cousins in the NYPD. The Towers are as familiar a landmark as the GPO, even though I have never been to America.
In short, this is the Middle East war coming right to our doorsteps. In real time and on TV.
What must be said upfront is that it is the individuals who ordered and carried out this atrocity who are responsible. Not Arabs. Not Muslems. Not Palestinians.
Any sentiment or retribution that is generalised in their direction is not legitimate, any more than the thousands of Americans who were murdered were legitimate targets because of US foreign policy.
There are lessons to be learnt, the chief one being that no part of the world can fence itself off.
We in the west have ignored the plight of the Palestinian people for so long that we have allowed the extreme bitterness over their suffering to poison the minds of extremists who can in turn dehumanise their victims like those in New York.
Maybe we thought it would never affect us. Maybe we think this about all world issues.
It must finally hit us that poverty and injustice doesn’t come cheap. All those people in the Third World who are good for arms sales and stitching cheap jeans have a way of making their presence felt.
They are chopping down the forests that we need to absorb our Nox gases. They have an uncanny habit of overthrowing their rulers causing commodity price shocks. And those that can end up on our shores despite all our efforts to keep them out.
What this all says is that the relationship between the rich world and the developing world is massively corrupt.
It is likely that the Irish death toll from the attacks in New York and Washington will end up in the dozens. That’s not counting first and second generation Irish-Americans.
This could be the worst ever atrocity to affect Irish people even given 30 years of the Troubles here.
Ireland has a legitimate interest in the response to this massacre. There will be a military response and there’s not much we can do about it except to say, as many of our people have said through the dark years, that we don’t want any retaliation.
Our response must be a civic one; to bear testament that the root cause of violence is injustice and inequality; and that the only final answer to terrorism is that the conditions for its existence must be removed.
|As well as that…|
I’M SURPRISED that many people are shocked that people might kill themselves to advance a political cause.
In many western societies, not least our own, people have been lauded for giving their lives for their country.
In Ireland we have had the hunger strike, starting from the War of Independence. In the British and US armies during WW2 soldiers and agents willingly volunteered for certain-death missions.
What is ghastly is that the lives of passengers and crew of civilian aircraft were discarded as if they were nothing. No quality of mercy there.