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Monday, September 11, 2006 

Remembering 9/11.

The events of the 11th of September were not just an attack on a government. They were not just an attack on a democracy. They were not just an attack on a people. They were an attack on values that nearly all of us hold dear, the belief that every single man has a voice, a voice that even in these days of media bombardment can be heard through the ever rising cacophony that eventually risks drowning us all in a sea of the insipid, the comatose and the bland. Those who planned that attack and who carried it out were opposed to this belief in self-determination. They knew, and know best. Always have, and always will.

I could be talking about September the 11th, 2001. I could be joining in with the media, weeping and reliving the events of that day 5 years ago, reimagining the terror felt not just in New York, but around the globe. One of the fears of that day was not about terrorism, that this was a new threat that endangered the lives of every single one of us. The fear prevalent outside the United States was just how America, the lumbering giant, that had apparently entered what Francis Fukuyama had called the end of history, was going to respond. We needn't have worried or fretted so much. It ended up far, far, worse than we could have imagined.

We could have looked into the history books and seen what might have been, for there is another September the 11th in modern history, one which America is not defiant about, but rather ashamed. Colin Powell said as much when being interviewed in 2003.
This September the 11th, forgotten about or brushed over, came back into vogue for a short time, but has now been left to wither again.

September the 11th in Chile in 1973 was the day on which the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet, and both supported, funded, and backed up by the Central Intelligence Agency. The Presidental Palace was bombed by British-made jets, and despite making a defiant address to the nation, Allende either committed suicide or was killed by the junta. Pinochet remained president until 1990. During that time, at least 3,000 dissidents, or even just those that got in the way, were killed or "disappeared". 35,000 have since claimed that they were tortured. Despite this, Margaret Thatcher thanked the General for "bringing democracy to Chile". Henry Kissinger, who participated in the death of satire when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year as the coup, famously said: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."

The same thinking still carries on today in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. Nevermind though, if the public decides to vote for the wrong person/party, there's always a way around it. You can starve that government of funds, organise blockades, enforce boycotts. That happened in Chile in the years leading up to the coup. It's happening again in Palestine now because the residents of Jenin and Rafah were just too damn stupid to realise how irresponsible they were being in voting for a terrorist group. This is particularly apt as the Republicans try desperately to paint the "war on terror" in the same colours as past battles, battles involving names which are associated only with evil and death, simplifying everything so even a small child can understand who the enemy is.

As you watch the news tonight, with the overbearing, dignified and dewy-eyed reporters demanding that you remember, that you take part in the mass orgy of grieving that everyone else is indulging themselves in, whether you like it or not, it's worth recalling Allende and those that died in Chile. Whatever our leaders say, we in the West have not always held the moral high ground. We haven't always been the forces of enlightenment and progress. In some cases we still aren't. When the memory of 9/11 eventually fades, replaced perhaps by an even far worse act of terror or a hideous war set-piece, will we have learned anything? Or will we be doomed to repeat history, having ignored what it should teach us?

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