Responses to crisis

I was very distressed by Daniel of Tinyblog’s heralding the Guardian commentary as the best he’d read about the terror situation. The bristling is due in part to the spin of the article implying that the UK’s hands were somehow clean of innocent blood. I was appalled and enraged at the exertion of British nationalism as if it were somehow a shining light of example of a great world citizen. I suppose a history lesson is in order, but I don’t feel compelled to supply it. This is a world crisis, not just a US one. Citizens of many nations were killed in the destruction of the World Trade Center.

I am heartened by Roy Harper’s latest diary entry. It is a much more reasoned, and yet impassioned, response.

I realised that the land of baseball had been rudely creamed into the twenty first century.

How innocent are any of us? I thought. How innocent can any of us be when billions of us are being deprived.. In the face of huge amounts of wealth. I could suddenly hear the worldwide clammer of recriminations. I silently wished we were all in the global village as equals. Then I thought that I’d rather be in a village of 100 people.. Self sufficient.. Where leaders couldn’t be ‘elected’ by spin. I was dreaming again. What if…

Then I thought that we had all deserved this; that we hadn’t taken care of our own. That we had let them fester in heaps of fundamentalist rubble until they had puked their disease all over us. Do we have to test each other’s bravery so much?

Then I think of my song ‘I Hate The White Man’, which was written so long ago now, and was written because I was outraged by the actions, ignorance and attitudes of western Europeans and Americans. The same people who are outraged by events that seem to impact upon their greed and overweening wealth, but who forget all too easily what they might have done to cause these events, and then, to compound the felony, forget about any of it altogether. As if nothing happened. Arrogant.

To be blamed by any European nation with the cowardly claim that “we brought it on ourselves” is pouring salt on a stinging wound, a wound that screams to be avenged. The minority that make the laws, and control the money deserve this righteous outrage. The citizens who were killed deserve our grief. Condemning a nation, or a race, or a religion, is a comfortable oversimplification that hides the real complexity of the problem. Roy sees that clearly:

As I’ve just said to one of my American friends, America is this great lumbering giant who’s been looking for trouble for decades, but on the other hand is the source for so many of my inspirations, and those of my friends. Republican fascism is hard for me to take; to have been so angered by Vietnam, and horrified by the American destruction of President Allende in Chile and the subsequent sponsorship of the murderer Pinochet.

And yet so hugely inspired by the freedoms of the jazz age, ‘Bird’ and Miles, Kerouac and the Beat Poets, Steinbeck and Hunter Thompson. The USA is a great juvenile melting pot, and that’s all there is to it. The great sprawling American landscape of diners and canyons, cowboys, hobos, dancers and trippers is part of my lifestyle. It is still a weird and wild frontier, and even in it’s most obnoxious manifestation, much more acceptable, benign and romantic than any grim blinkered worship of a fantasy deity which one could be required and compelled to worship five times a day.

A living experiment with millions of tides, attitudes and quirks powered by at least the idea of freedom of expression. And developing. And though I rail against the many obvious injustices, at least I am free to do so. But to want to turn everything from Morocco to Egypt, from Turkey to Pakistan, to lead, is not the right way. It’s exactly the wrong way. What America now has to do is what we’ve all done in the last day, which is to take a good look at ourselves. And what we’re doing in the world. And to the world.

I read another editorial in the Toronto Sun that challenged Bush for not being more aggressive, more warlike, more anxious to strike against anything. Opinions will differ, but there is no question that sides must be taken. Knowing Roy’s politics, knowing that his heart is close to mine in concern for humanity, it was incredibly uplifting to read his choice:

And let America now go out into the world. Not as tourists, but as equals in it’s hope and despair. Not to gape at Buckingham Palace or the Eiffel Tower, but to look into the eyes of nations, and to take home some understanding. Not to further sour the world with retaliation, but to teach the world a lesson with restraint. To attack another nation is only to contribute to further reaction and to eventually bringing the whole pack of cards down.

Maybe You think it needs to..

The previous paragraph intones my hopes for my world. In the cold light of day, what has been enacted in New York is of nuclear war proportions. It is inconceivable that the USA will not not respond in kind if it can locate a target. It will also pull in it’s allies. I am one of those. I’ve now stood up. And I’ve now been counted, and I have to own up to my own heart. Sink or swim.

I have no choice but to stand with my country. Not blindly to follow it into Armageddon, but to stand with it in the intolerance of terrorism. Sink or swim. There is a difference between restraint and inaction. I wish the reeling “shadows of the indignant desert birds” to be stopped from moving across not just our landscape, but the landscapes of the UK and Russia and all the countries of the world. This is a world situation, not just a US one, and no amount of flag waving on any side will help the problem. Humanity must stand together, sink or swim.