The drumbeats of war started to beat not long after the dreadful events of 11 September, 2001. That day, thousands of working people lost their lives in as horrific a manner as anyone would care to imagine. Afterwards, amid a mass of jingoism and extreme American nationalism, the deaths and suffering of these victims was used to justify a further decade of mass terrorism. The greatest crime of the 21st century, the invasion of Iraq, was carried out on the back of these unforgettable events. Doubtless, the coming anniversary will see another flurry of uber-patriotism and willful blindness.
Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman once wrote about ‘worthy victims’ and ‘unworthy victims’. In ‘Manufacturing Consent’, their 1986 book analysing the US media, they identified a long-running characteristic in the West to emphasise the crimes of others while minimising, or completely ignoring, their own crimes. Chomsky and Herman highlighted the double standards shown by the Western media during the Cold War. Its constant condemnation of the crimes of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe was in sharp contrast to their habit of ignoring the crimes of Pinochet, Suharto and other Western-backed dictators.
The up coming anniversary of “9/11” underlines this argument. Everyone knows how many people died that day. Many even know the exact time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Centre. Those who died that day are worthy victims. How many people in the West know the current death toll in Iraq? Or in Afghanistan? Or in Pakistan? Or in Palestine? Indeed, are there any who care?
On September 11, 1973, the democratically elected government of Chile under Salvador Allende was overthrown in an American-backed coup. The openly Fascist Augusto Pinochet was installed at the country’s helm. 30,000 socialists, trade unionists, liberals and others were massacred under his regime, which consecutive US governments continued to support. However, the victims of Pinochet are not worthy of two weeks of commemoration or a global minutes’ silences. Neither are those who are slaughtered by American-made bombs in Palestine. Nor are the countless thousands who perished in Bush and Blair’s criminal invasion of Iraq. They are unworthy victims.
Facts like these destroy the lie that the ‘9/11’ attacks came out of thin air. In most mainstream discourse, the word ‘Palestine’ rarely comes into any discussion on the terror attacks of ten years ago. Indeed, in our context-free media, who is surprised?
As much of the Western world stops to pay its respects to the thousands of innocent people murdered a decade ago, I will bear in mind also the countless millions who have died at the hands of the American Empire.
Of course, there will be many of my fellow countrymen and women who will be appalled at my stance. This ‘outrage’ will certainly come from the same flock of gombeens who drooled over the warmonger Obama when he visited Ireland earlier this year. “Who cares that thousands of civilians have been murdered as a result of his drone attacks in Pakistan?”, they would say. “Sure he spoke a couple of words of Irish and drank some Guinness! He must be fucking cool!”.