According to Dave Hooper there is a hint of hypocrisy about the commemorations of 9/11. To me the problem is deeper; we are all participants in the drama around the terror attacks and most of us have no idea of how much we are being manipulated.
Look at what happened in Baslan. It was reality-TV terrorism. The terrorists didn’t waste any energy killing anyone at the beginning of the seige; they waited until the world’s media was queued up outside to cover the tragedy that was all ready to happen. When it did happen (which was basically inevitable – Chechen siege situations always ended badly in the past) it happened before our eyes. I saw it myself on Sky TV.
What we saw was tragedy presented as entertainment. Children were dying and suffering in front of our eyes. We didn’t treat dying and suffering people with respect. The terrorists treated the whole thing like a game show, and the international media decided we would like to see it.
Now we see 9-11 being treated as part of the obstacle course in a game of politics. Like Dave Hooper says, it’s an opportunity to raise the flag, play the anthem, and sell some t-shirts. It’s used (rightly or wrongly) to partly justify some of the biggest military mobilizations in history.
Like 9-11, Beslan was a symbolic victory, rather than a real victory for terrorists. No muslim or arab benefited from what happened. There was no booty, and no land was grabbed. The damage and carnage was immense, but it was a tiny wound for vast, powerful countries like the US and Russia. That’s not to say that it was minor or didn’t really matter. It does matter, but it matters symbolically, rather than in practical terms.
We are all unwitting participants in the game. Striking at symbols (great buildings and cities or innocent children) is a way to get us to react. The way we collectively react to the killings and mayhem is more important than the acts of terror themselves. Terrorism is as much about promoting anger as it is about promoting fear. We have to be a bit more careful to react with our heads as well as our hearts. Otherwise we are just playing into our opponents’ hands.