In connection with the first anniversary of the 9/11/01 al-Qaida attack on New York and Washington, my newspaper invited readers to submit letters of not over 300 words on how the attack had affected us or our thinking. I sent this letter in quickly. As you can see, I stayed under the word limit and didn't include hate-filled invective. But they didn't publish it...or anything more than very mildly critical of the U.S. Government. (I could have understood their holding critical letters until after the anniversary, but they didn't even publish them at a later date.)
Like most Americans, I was horrified by the events of 9/11/01. I was briefly critical of President Bush for not having come to the fore and helped the nation through that terrible day. But I soon put that out of my mind. Over the years, I'd been too distracted by work, health, and family problems to pay close attention to world affairs. So I believed we'd been the target of an unprovoked attack, and I supported our going to war in Afghanistan.
But as time went on, I was troubled by U.S. policies. I couldn't condone our government's treatment of prisoners...the scapegoating of John Lindh...the detention and deportation of immigrants...or the conduct of the war itself, with such repellent innovations as a weapon that suffocates people in caves.
I learned more about the issues, and found myself in sympathy with Islamist grievances. I now believe U.S. support of Israel is and always has been morally wrong. I believe that if a significant number of Muslims have religious objections to the presence of U.S. forces on the Arabian Peninsula, we should get out. And I'm sickened by the knowledge that U.S. actions have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq.
Finally, I've come to suspect that the Bush Administration ignored the comings and goings of known terrorists prior to 9/11 because they hoped al-Qaida would give them a pretext to invade Afghanistan. Motive? The Taliban wouldn't permit an oil pipeline.
I no longer trust my own government. I certainly don't approve of terrorist attacks on the U.S. But I respect our adversaries, and I don't want to kill them any more than I want to be killed by them. I hope the U.S. will someday be forced to negotiate and to mend its ways.