September 22, 2001
THE AMERICA-bashing in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks continues unabated. Perhaps the most outrageous among them comes from, of all places, Kenya.
Yes, a man from the East African nation that showed so much democratic and economic promise in its first years of independence but degenerated into a place where government corruption, torture, detention without trial and murder soon became the norm had the nerve to suggest that we Americans got exactly what we deserved Sept. 11.
"The world is still dazzled by the precision strikes at the financial and security soul of the superpower -- indeed, the whole world," David Makali wrote in the Sept. 15 edition of Kenya's Daily Nation. Before you start fuming over the word "dazzled" to describe an act that was horrifying and despicable, read more of what Makali had to say.
"The mighty United States is putting on a brave face as it ponders the circumstances that led to its siege, destruction and unprecedented terror. ... To many observers, it is America's smug, arrogant isolationism that has begotten this disaster. Is America humble enough to admit that it has been wrong in its dealing with the rest of the world and that it must change in the interest of lasting peace?
"From its solo pursuit of a missile defense shield and the unilateral rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, against the rest of the world's better sense, to its snubbing of the Durban racism conference dominated by attacks on Israel, America has been telling all and sundry that it can go it alone. Its interests have been askant to the weaker world since the Bush administration came to power.
"... To the long-suffering Palestinians and survivors of the war against Baghdad, the World Trade Center carnage is payback time. ...
"If the world is to extract one lesson from this human catastrophe, it is the vanity of brazen power and its abuse."
How should Americans respond to Makali? How can we reach a guy with a mind that thinks this way? Let me take a stab at it.
Makali, you revolting cretin. Surely you know that the attacks on the WTC twin towers and the Pentagon are in no stretch of the imagination "precision strikes." It doesn't take precision to crash a jet into a large building. It takes precision not to.
We smug, arrogant, isolationist Americans have a saying. When someone writes the twittish twaddle you wrote, we say "You've got to consider the source."
In this case, the source is a man who hails from a country that is the beneficiary of foreign aid from we arrogant, isolationist Americans. U.S. businesses have millions invested in your country, providing, I suspect, no small amount of jobs. About 111 members of the U.S. Peace Corps are in your country, trying to make life better for Kenya's citizens. About 25,000 Americans visit per year, pumping some much-needed dollars into your economy.
This arrogant, isolationist country has welcomed with open arms Kenyans and other Africans weary of governments that pilfer money from their citizens, stifle all opposition, and arrest, jail without trial, torture and murder those who dissent. Although we are smug isolationists, we opened our World Trade Center to all countries. Hundreds of foreign companies did business there. Among the more than 6,000 dead whose bodies have yet to be recovered were hundreds of British, Indian, Japanese, Bangladeshi, Korean, Chinese and, yes, African nationals.
If you're anti-American, Makali, simply come out and say so. Don't blame America's policies regarding a missile defense shield, the Kyoto Protocol and the Durban racism conference. The WTC-Pentagon attacks were obviously planned well before President Bush was elected. Bush's policies since he was elected can hardly be the cause.
Your reference to the "vanity of brazen power and its abuse" is a charge you would more appropriately direct at the president of your country, Daniel T. arap Moi. He and other African misleaders are responsible for much of the continent being an economic and human rights basket case.
Even more idiotic is your implication that the WTC carnage is payback time for "the war against Baghdad." Several here in America have tried to draw the same comparison, proving that stupidity has no geographic boundaries. A moron could readily see the difference.
Saddam Hussein and the folks in Baghdad knew American bombs were coming. They had ample opportunity to evacuate people, build bomb shelters and set up a defense with surface-to-air missiles. At least they had a shot at survival.
Those trapped on the upper floors of the WTC twin towers had no chance. They never expected jets to crash into the buildings, had no time to get out and hadn't even a measly slingshot for defense. They had to wait in terror as the building burned beneath them, knowing that early death was their certain fate.
America has never used its power to sucker punch an opponent without warning. So you might tell your buddies in the Arab world -- who blew up hundreds in your country in 1998 -- that payback time hasn't even started.
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