Over the past days and for a few more to come there are going to be a lot of articles commemorating the events of September 11th, 2001. The international answer to Bin Laden’s attacks was an invasion of Afghanistan and the global result of those events is that nothing has ever been the same since that day five years ago.
That day nearly 4,000 innocent people died while the rest of us held our breath watching live on television. The terror had come to everybody’s house across Europe and America. Nobody could hit the almighty America and still it had just happened. The king was naked! Security, the word that accompanies our mighty western civilization, collapsed with the Twin Towers, nobody is secure anymore.
Still, I’m not going to talk about security because it saddens me that after a century of fighting to secure an individual’s freedom and independence of thought we are in danger of losing it. I’m not going to talk about the chance Bin Laden and his followers gave to the most conservative parts of society to rise up and become a state; that’s something all the magazines and newspapers will talk about anyway. What bothers me is that he made me hate him and that’s the worst thing he could do!
Usually we despise anybody who tries to force his will; we despise Hitler even though he’s been dead for nearly sixty years. We despise Stalin and Amin Dada. But Bin Laden made the difference by giving me a face to hate! I hate him because the man made me hate somebody! I hate him because of what he made me.
All my life I’ve been the person to be open to other’s opinions and beliefs. For me, some words of Themistocles have been a personal philosophy: “You may hit me, but listen to me first.” Respect other’s opinion, even though you don’t agree and Bin Laden came and whipped everything away. He told me that I know what’s right and I’m forcing it to you by killing people.
What happened in Lebanon a few weeks ago was not the first dramatic event in the Middle East. On the contrary, it was a link in a chain of events that began half a century ago. The pictures of dead children were breathtaking and every time you heard on the news that another kid was dead you were felt as though it was your own. The big difference this time was September 11th.
Israel keeps striking defenseless Palestinians in the most unreasonable way over the last forty years and every single time the rest of the world was rising from the events. For forty years Israel has all the excuses for these strikes and the world is dismissing them. This time Israel’s excuses seemed so poor that even they could not believe them, but this time the whole world was numb. The ghost of Bin Laden had changed everything. And had changed me as well.
My constant reaction, till now, was to get angry; how can they let that happen? That would be my reaction when thinking of a UN that does nothing, an EU that is just watching as kids are getting killed and I would blame the President of the USA first. However, this time I understood why France was not in such a hurry to get involved. I wanted them to get involved and I was really glad when they did finally decide to move but I could understand what they were scared of.
Five years after 9-11, there is still fighting in Afghanistan. The Taliban are returning stronger than ever, Iran’s dictatorship is still there threatening us a nuclear plan and arrogant ignorance that only dictatorships have, and Iraq is in the middle of a civil war whether the Americans like it or not. Bin Laden is here using the system that created him against them. Bin Laden the former CIA operative in Afghanistan, the fighter against the evil Russian bear is here fighting with the same weapons and practicing the same methods they taught him to fight the Russians.
For the next few days we are all going to see the pictures and the videos of the burning towers. We are going to see families crying asking why and, probably somewhere in his cave, Bin Laden will be thinking that he took revenge for all the dead Palestinian kids. He missed the point, for generations Palestinian mothers will hate him because he made people like me hate him and understand when France becomes numb instead of running to help.
By Thanos Kalamidas