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Tuesday, September 03, 2002

A Monopoly on Sorrow

Man, I hate it when another blogger gets to your idiotarian first. (Go to bed, Tim!) But sometimes they are in such a feeding frenzy that they leave a lot of meat on the bones.

So here, direct from the Independent (of Reality) is Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Her title:

Muslims can only feel unease about 11 September

Thanks for speaking up for all Muslims.

I have been dreading 11 September for a good two months. And now it is nearly upon us that weight has become almost intolerable. What happened to the 2,823 Americans and their families was unutterable and I hate the malevolent malcontents who perpetrate these acts - indeed the Tunisian-Swedish hijacker arrested on Friday may be one such plotter. However, I have to make this unambiguous proclamation to avoid misunderstanding as I explain what my true feelings are about the anniversary.

Mmm hmm. Obligatory expressions of condemnation. Well, you've beaten out many of American Muslims already. Good.

I know that the world is supposed to accept the premise that this was the worst tragedy to befall us all and that in order not to be seen as a supporter of global terrorism, we must show our stars and stripes, participate faithfully in the surfeit of remembrance which has already begun.

Well, as to that---could you (the rest of the world) not? Could you just sort of...look away? Do something else for a while? Because, frankly, I don't want you watching our grief, or our anger. I feel like the relative of a recently-murdered celebrity who has to put up with a bunch of strangers at the funeral. Some mean well, and are genuinely grieved; some are just ghoulish voyeurs; and still others are spiteful creatures who---personally unacquainted with the deceased---gloat that he got what was coming to him, a calculation based on the tabloids they read. So could you just send a card or something?

Altaf Ali, a director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has just warned all those who choose to ignore the order to display their grief: "If we do not go out and show support in acts of solidarity it will backfire and harm us."

See, now this is the kind of charming sympathy we can do without. From CAIR I'd rather have a plain vanilla anti-Israel diatribe.

Meanwhile, almost completely unreported and largely unknown is the arrest a week ago of a 37-year-old doctor - Robert Goldstein - who was found in Florida with ammunition and detailed plans to blow up 50 Islamic centres and mosques.

Almost completely unreported, except for all those newspaper stories. (And what does this have to do with anything, anyway?)

So the right things will be done and said by Muslims on both sides of the
Atlantic. What we feel is another matter.

Muslims are hypocrites. Check.

And for most people in the world, this only confirms that American lives are more valuable than others.

Now, Alibhai-Brown is writing for a British newspaper, so if she finds that the British are being maudlin over dead Americans, then I don't see any harm in saying so.

But I do want to point out one thing. American lives are more important. To Americans.

If something happens to my friends or family, I feel it more deeply than if it happens to my neighbors, and I feel that more deeply than something that happens to someone I do not know. The further away (not necessarily in geography) one goes, the less the loss is felt. This is simple human nature.

None of these people is an apologist for the extremists, the haters and killers who say that they do what they do for the good of Islam. But most are uneasy about this coming anniversary. They ask if we will also pray for the uncounted, innocent - maybe inevitable - victims of war in Afghanistan? Do we even know how many children were orphaned and whether anyone will provide compensation for them?

Gee, Yasmine, where were you before the war? Were you sipping champagne and discussing your unbearable pity for the suffering of the children of Afghanistan? Did you shake your head sadly at the women beaten in the streets, at the boys with limbs lopped off in the soccer stadium, at the bribes that the Taliban demanded before they'd let the guilty Westerners bring food to the Afghans? And if you did, did you have a solution? Was your solution to go to the Taliban (figuratively, of course!) and stamp your feet until they gave in? Do we even know how many people per day, every day, the Taliban were killing---a killing that was stopped by the Americans?

And can we be told what is happening to the prisoners in Cuba?

They're gaining weight and getting medical attention. Thanks for asking.

The media has lost interest but these men are being held - uncharged - in violation of the most basic standards of legal justice.

(Man, I swore to myself I would go easy on her, but...)

The most basic standards of legal justice. Is this more or less basic than Saudi justice? Russian justice? European justice?

Oh, and those black victims in Kenya and Tanzania when Osama Bin Laden's bombs exploded near the US embassies (12 Americans died, hundreds of Africans were killed or maimed). Are any monuments planned to these first victims of Muslim Stalinists?

Possibly, in Kenya. That's for the Kenyans to decide, yes? (Oh, and you'll love this---at one point they were planning to sue the US government um...being there. I believe they've since decided they'd have a better case against Bin Laden, and have decided to sue his frozen assets.)


Not all Americans are indifferent. Radicals, human-rights activists and lawyers, some prominent African-Americans too, are dissenting, even in this period of enforced mourning.

Man, I don't know what I'm going to do. I have a US flag, but it's in the stuff being sent back from Sydney, which isn't here yet. And all the flags in town are sold out, as are the pins, and the T-shirts, shorts, purses, beach towels, balloons, and Little Debbie's snack cakes, and Dear Sub-Commander Ashcroft has said that anyone not displaying stars and strips on September 11 will be shot on the street without trial! Guess I'll hide in the crawl space all day, just in case there's a house-to-house search.

Legal challenges are being mounted against arbitrary detentions of all creatures brown across the country.

"All creatures brown"?? This is going to reveal itself to be parody at any time now, right? Not very good parody, but parody still, yes? Hello? Anyone? Honestly, "Alibi Brown"? Wasn't that Huggy Bear's girlfriend?

I saw the gardeners illegally detaining a squirrel, does that count?

The novelist Walter Mosley said last month: "Most Black Americans were appalled but not surprised by the hatred and anger which produced the attack. Black Americans are aware of the attitude of America towards people who are different, people whose beliefs are different, people of a different colour."

Well, there's another author going right to the bottom of the "buy" list (getting crowded down there). Amerikkka! Most racist society on the planet! (I was going to do more, but geez...there's only so much bile one can spill before it erodes your tongue.)


At long last, we lurch to a halt.

It would be a shame if this became an opportunity for the US to usurp the world's sorrow and to mourn and avenge only their own, leaving it to others to ask the harsh questions. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened, except that British and US Muslims have been pushed into such a corner that they no longer dare to ask the questions openly. And the frustration of this is palpable, especially at this time.

There, I have said it. Now the deluge of abuse.

Martyrs! Martyrs! Martyrs! Martyrs by the million!

What a brave woman! There she is, sitting in one of the freest societies on the planet, one with a long tradition of free speech, criticizing another society with a similar tradition of free speech! How brave can you get? Hang your heads, alumni of the gulags! Bow before her, children of Tiananmen! Kiss her hand, brown creatures of the Third World---she has risked so much for you!

She has risked imprison---no, hang on, not likely. Uh, CIA death squads...well, no...somewhat less likely. Just a sec, she's risked her job, her very liveli---no, no, she wrote this for her employers, the Daily Fisk, so I don't suppose they'd fire her for it. Hmm...her friends...yes! Yes! That's it! She has taken the terrible risk of being turned into a pariah in her social circle. Her friends no longer calling, her...oops, waitaminnit. She wrote about her frou-frou friends and their swank discussion ghettos in the article. I'm sure she'll be dining out on the swift and terrible blow she has struck the Great Satan.

So...abuse...abuse...where's this abuse going to come from?

Oh, that's right! From me.

Oh, the humanity.