remembering the targets of terrorists

Today we remember the targets of the 9/11 terrorists, and we honor those who risked their lives to help out strangers in danger.
Today we also think about how much terrorism grows from the desire for power — for some, power over people; for others, the power that only vast personal wealth can ensure.
On this 9/11 Americans are being terrorized by Americans. Economically terrorized. An article by Naomi Klein in The Nation draws a parallel between the capitalist terrorism that took advantage of the destruction of the tsunami and what’s seems to be happening in New Orleans. She says:
When I was in Sri Lanka six months after the tsunami, many survivors told me that the reconstruction was victimizing them all over again. A council of the country’s most prominent businesspeople had been put in charge of the process, and they were handing the coast over to tourist developers at a frantic pace. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of poor fishing people were still stuck in sweltering inland camps, patrolled by soldiers with machine guns and entirely dependent on relief agencies for food and water. They called reconstruction “the second tsunami.”
There are already signs that New Orleans evacuees could face a similarly brutal second storm…..

Klein has a suggestion, which, she says, is not without precedence:
When Mexico City was struck by a devastating earthquake in 1985, the state also failed the people: poorly constructed public housing crumbled and the army was ready to bulldoze buildings with survivors still trapped inside. A month after the quake 40,000 angry refugees marched on the government, refusing to be relocated out of their neighborhoods and demanding a “Democratic Reconstruction.” Not only were 50,000 new dwellings for the homeless built in a year; the neighborhood groups that grew out of the rubble launched a movement that is challenging Mexico’s traditional power holders to this day.
This is what Klein suggests for the survivors of Katrina who might well be targets of a “second storm” from American economic terrorists:
For a people’s reconstruction process to become a reality (and to keep more contracts from going to Halliburton), the evacuees must be at the center of all decision-making. According to Curtis Muhammad of Community Labor United, the disaster’s starkest lesson is that African-Americans cannot count on any level of government to protect them. “We had no caretakers,” he says. That means the community groups that do represent African-Americans in Louisiana and Mississippi — many of which lost staff, office space and equipment in the flood — need our support now. Only a massive injection of cash and volunteers will enable them to do the crucial work of organizing evacuees — currently scattered through forty-one states–into a powerful political constituency. The most pressing question is where evacuees will live over the next few months. A dangerous consensus is building that they should collect a little charity, apply for a job at the Houston Wal-Mart and move on. Muhammad and CLU, however, are calling for the right to return: they know that if evacuees are going to have houses and schools to come back to, many will need to return to their home states and fight for them.
Read Klein’s entire rational democratic rationale here.
And then go read this letter to all of those who voted for our country’s incompetent leader, a letter that reminds us:
….Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?
When you look at Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, a man with little experience in national security, do you feel secure?
When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war? Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there?
Do you really believe that turning over important government services to private corporations has resulted in better services for the people?….. [snip]
…Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an education system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can’t string a coherent sentence together. The middle class can’t pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever…. [snip]
…You gave the country and the world a man who wasn’t up for the job and all he does is hire people who aren’t up for the job. You did this to us, to the world, to the people of New Orleans. Please fix it. Bush is yours. And you know, for our peace and safety and security, this has to be fixed. What do you propose?
I have an idea, and it isn’t a horse show.

Leave a Reply