have we learnt since 11 September? Weve learnt that
poverty breeds despair, despair breeds instability, instability
breeds resentment, and resentment breeds extremism.
folks, these are what we in the trade call root causes.
Which cause do you root for? Poverty breeds instability
(the Detroit News)? Or poverty breeds fanaticism
(Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle)?
in mind that instability breeds zealots (John
Ibbitson in the Toronto Globe and Mail), but that fanaticism
breeds hatred (Mauve MacCormack of New South Wales)
and hatred breeds extremism (Mircea Geoana,
Romanian Foreign Minister).
all, lets not forget that desperation breeds
resentment (Howard Zinn in the Los Angeles Times)
and resentment breeds terrorism (Eugene G. Wollaston
of Naperville, Illinois), but sometimes desperation
breeds terrorism (a poster in Lower Manhattan) as
surely as despair breeds terrorism (Ian Lawson
in the San Diego Union-Tribune), though occasionally despair
breeds pestilence (James Robertson of Ashland, Oregon).
injustice breeds hopelessness (Stephen Bachhuber
of Portland, Oregon) and hopelessness breeds fanaticism
(Mark McCulloch of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania) and injustice
breeds rage (the National Council of Churches).
ignorance breeds hate (Wasima Alikhan of the
Islamic Academy of Las Vegas), just as hostility breeds
violence (Alexa McDonough, leader of Canadas
New Democratic Party), and suffering breeds violence
(David Pricco of San Francisco) and war breeds hate
and hate breeds terrorism (Julia Watts of Berkeley,
California) and intolerance breeds hate, hate breeds
violence and violence breeds death, destruction and heartache
(David Coleman of the University of Oklahoma).
breeds injustice (Dr L.B. Quesnel of Manchester) and
suffering breeds suffering (Gabor Mate, author
of Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing
of Attention Deficit Disorder) and instability breeds
instability (Congressman Alcee Hastings) and hate
breeds hate (a sign at the University of Maryland)
and hatred breeds hatred (the Reverend Charles
A. Summers of the First Presbyterian Church of Richmond,
Virginia) and anger breeds anger. Hostility breeds
hostility. And attacks are going to breed other attacks
(Dania Dandashly of the Governor Bent Elementary School
in Albuquerque, New Mexico), all of which only further confirms
that all together now violence breeds
violence. So say Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit,
and Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee,
and Chris Struble, President of Humanists of Idaho, and
Riane Eisler, international activist for peace, human rights
and the environment, macro-historian, systems and cultural-transformation
theorist and President of the Center for Partnership Studies.
hate to be partisan about this, really I do.
If theres one thing thats clear since 11 September,
its that the familiar identity-group labels arent
the ones that really define us. What matters about Mark
Bingham, one of the brave men who overpowered the hijackers
of Flight 93 and thus saved potentially thousands of lives,
is not that he was gay or even that he was a Republican
but that he was a great American hero. What matters about
the Revd Jerry Falwell, who declared that the mass slaughter
was Gods judgment on gays, feminists et al, is not
that hes a social conservative (as I am) but that
hes a heartless jerk.
said, a large swath of the Left has settled into an endless
dopey roundelay, a vast Schnitzlerian carousel where every
abstract noun is carrying on like Anthony Quinn on Viagra.
Instability breeds resentment, resentment breeds inertia,
inertia breeds generalities, generalities breed clichés,
clichés breed lame metaphors, until we reach the
pitiful state of the peacenik opinion columns where, to
modify the old evening news motto, if it breeds it leads.
If I were to say Mr Scroggins breeds racing pigeons,
it would be reasonable to assume that Id been round
to the Scroggins house or at least made a phone call. But
the injustice breeds anger routine requires
no such mooring to humdrum reality, though its generally
offered as a uniquely shrewd insight, reflecting a vastly
superior understanding of the complexities of the situation
than we nuke-crazy warmongers have. What you have
to look at is the underlying reasons, a Dartmouth
College student said to me the other day. Poverty
breeds resentment and resentment breeds anger.
I said. And whats the capital of Saudi Arabia?
certainly possible to mount a trenchant demolition of US
policy toward Israel, Palestine, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan
and Pakistan, but that would require specifics, facts, a
curiosity about the subject, and this breed of rhetoric
is designed to save you the trouble. Its certainly
not worth rebutting: if poverty and despair breed terrorism,
then how come Aids-infested sub-Saharan Africa isnt
a hotbed of terrorism? Needless to say, its also racist,
or more accurately culturalist: the non-Western world is
apparently just one big petri dish full of mutating globules,
eternally passive, acted upon but never acting. As Salman
Rushdie wrote of 11 September, To excuse such an atrocity
by blaming US government policies is to deny the basic idea
of all morality: that individuals are responsible for their
actions. And the fact that only one side is denied
this essential dignity of humanity tells you a lot about
what the peace crowd really think of them.
the breed screed is revealing of the broader disposition
of its speakers. In America, the Right tend to be federalists,
the Left centralists. The Right are happy to leave education
to local school boards, the Left want big Federal government
programmes. The Right say hire a new local police chief
and let him fix the crime problem, the Left demand Federal
hate-crimes legislation. The Right favour individual liberties,
the Left are more concerned with group rights. In a nutshell,
the Right are particular, the Left love generalities (if
youll forgive a generalisation).
so faced with the enormity of 11 September the pacifist
Left has done what it always does smother the issues
in generalities and abstractions though never on
such an epic scale. On that sunny Tuesday morning, at least
7,000 people died real, living men and women and
children with families and street addresses and telephone
numbers. But the language of the pacifists for all
its ostensible compassion dehumanises these individuals.
Theyre no longer flight attendants and firemen and
waitresses and bond dealers, but only an abstract blur in
some theoretical equation not yet collateral
damage (the phrase they loved to mock the militarists
for), but certainly collateral. Of course, real live folks
die in the Middle East, too, and their stories are worth
telling. But in between the bonehead refrains of this breeding
that and that breeding the other, youll search in
vain for a name or a face, a street or a city or sometimes
even a country. Just the confident assertion that one abstract
noun breeds another.
totalitarian grotesqueness of the peace movement
was nicely caught in the photos of last weekends demonstrations
in Washington. The usual anti-globalisation crowd had pencilled
in the end of September for their protest against the IMF
and World Bank. The IMF and World Bank decided to postpone
their meeting, but the glob mob figured there was no reason
to call off the demo. So instead they got their rewrite
guys in and switched all the placards from anti-capitalist
slogans to anti-war slogans. This prompted a counter-protest
by locals who held up signs reading SHAME FOR DISTURBING
A CITY IN MOURNING.
so. These people are mourning family, neighbours, acquaintances.
If youre going to intrude on that, you could at least
come up with something more pertinent than boiler-plate
sloganeering. Its true that with so many corpses
I use the term loosely as most of the victims were atomised
its hard to focus on the individuals, the faces
in the crowd. It was the Hansons I fastened on,
Anna Quindlen wrote in Newsweek. No telling why, exactly,
except perhaps for the way their names appeared on the flight
list, with that single number:
"Susan Hanson, Massachusetts
"Christine Hanson, 2, Massachusetts".
been critical of Newsweeks back-of-the-book sob-sister
in these pages, but she puts it very well: our common humanity
requires us to see ourselves in them all: the executives,
the waiters, the lawyers, the police officers, the father,
the mother, the 2-year-old girl off on an adventure, sitting
safe between them, taking wing. At one brokerage firm
alone Cantor Fitzgerald there are 1,500 children
whove lost one of their parents. Picture a four-year
old girl on an otherwise perfectly normal day wondering
why mommys crying and why daddy isnt there to
tuck her up in bed, and the next day hes still not
there, and the next, and then mommy tells you he wont
be coming home any more and that hes gone to heaven,
which is nice for him, but you wish he would come back to
read you one more story. And you get older and go to school
and daddy fades into a blur, just a couple of indistinct
memories of a face leaning over your pillow and you feel
him only as an absence, a part of your childhood stolen
from you. Multiply that by 1,500 for Cantor Fitzgerald and
then throw in all the other orphans. I fastened on
Carol Flyzik, a lesbian nurse whod got up early and
headed for Logan airport in Boston from Plaistow, a town
in southern New Hampshire I drive through from time to time.
She lived with her partner and their children and, although
Im a notorious homophobe and no respecter of alternative
families, I cant see what on earth those kids
did to deserve having a great, gaping hole blown into their
do some people look at a smoking ruin and see the lives
lost the secretary standing by the photocopier
and others see only confirmation of their thesis on Kyoto?
This isnt being sentimental. Any real insight into
the root causes has to begin with an acknowledgment
of the human toll, if only because that speaks more eloquently
than anything else to the vast cultural gulf between the
victims and perpetrators. To deny them their humanity, to
reduce them to an impersonal abstraction is Stalinist. Bill
Clinton at least claimed to feel your pain.
The creepy, inhuman formulations of the peace movement cant
even go through the motions.
of us would have bet on the professors, preachers and the
rest of the educated, articulate Left performing in quite
such a desultory, slap-dash fashion. But in bringing war
to the East Coast for the first time in two centuries the
terrorists have also brought the fellow travellers home.
It was easy to slough off the dead in the gulags, far away
and out of sight. But could they do the same if the dead
were right here on this continent, and not in some obscure
cornpone hicksville but in the heart of our biggest cities?
Yes, they could, and so easily. At one level, its
simply bad taste a lack of breeding, so to speak.
But the interesting thing, to those of us used to being
reviled as right-wing haters, is how sterile the vocabulary
of those who profess to love and care
is. In some weird Orwellian boomerang, the degradation of
language required to advance the Lefts agenda has
rendered its proponents utterly desiccated. The President
gets teary in the Oval Office, the Queen chokes up at St
Pauls, David Letterman and Dan Rather sob on CBS,
New Yorkers weep openly for their slain firemen, but the
dead-eyed zombies of the peace movement who claim to love
everyone parade through the streets unmoved, a breed apart.