Today as I write, the world remembers the tragic events which took place on September 11, 2001. Let me start by saying it was and remains a tragedy. Thousands of people died in a violent manner, families were destroyed, and lives shattered. My heart goes out them for I am human and feel empathy.
We, however, must not forget that the vicious attacks on the day were not unprovoked; they were not born in a vacuum and were the direct result of US imperial actions in the Middle East for almost a century.
The fact that this attack was chickens coming home to roost, in the words of Malcom X, is no longer a fringe view. The evidence has long been in, and after 20 years the majority of the world now accepts that this act, though heinous and illegal, was not unprovoked and was almost inevitable.
This is, even now I would dare say, the common opinion of citizens of the US who have a tendency to never view their country as wrong or view all attacks on them as unprovoked and unjustified even when faced with evidence to the contrary.
The US mourns this day, and it tries to drag the rest of the world into its mourning in the manner which only an empire can do. The core is hurting so we must all mourn; the periphery burns, and we are not to pay any mind, this is the logic of empire, and this is the logic of the US.
This is seen in this day which, irony of ironies, is also a day of mourning in Latin America, namely Chile, after a violent attack took place. This attack was the US-sponsored coup led by Pinochet that ousted the democratically elected President Allende after years of sanctioning the Chilean economy so that it would, in the words of Kissinger, ‘scream uncle’.
The coup of September 11, 1973 was an event which, in terms of violence, makes the 2001 event look like a mere drop in the bucket. In a violent and systematic method, utilizing the same methods used in the coup in Indonesia (read the Jakarta Method), thousands of people were rounded up, taken to the national stadium and shot (reminiscent of the Taliban); the presidential palace was bombarded from the air and shelled by tanks; Allende was found dead and debates rage to this day as to whether it was murder or suicide to avoid the type of murder which befell Ghaddafi.
The far-right regime installed by the US and led by Pinochet was home to not only the founders of neo-liberalism, who used Chile as the test ground for privatizing everything in sight and leaving the State at the mercy of the private sector and international capital — something which would then be spread to the broader global south — but also employed actual Nazis in his military, police and intelligence agencies. The regime went on a killing spree, murdering people who they perceived as a threat and that included not only communists and socialists — groups which made up the ousted government — but also garden variety liberals appalled at the violence, partners of politically active people and even their children, some of whom were killed and others who given away Argentina style. The barbarity and cruelty of these Nazi-inspired individuals have been immortalized in the image of helicopters throwing people into shark-infested waters (an image which is proudly displayed by members of the US and European far right and ‘edgy’ individuals who clearly have no issue with fascism).
This 11th of September is what we in the global south used to remember until the empire was hurt in an attack launched by its old proxies used in the destruction of Socialist Yugoslavia. This was our day of mourning until the US received what intelligence agents call blowback and entered a state of insanity believing that their pain is our pain.
Let them mourn, let them remember their dead, but we in the south should not mourn too much, not for them anyway. September 11, 1973 was not a one off. There are thousands of them in the global south. Guatemala experienced one, Iran experienced one, Nicaragua experienced and is currently experiencing one, China had its own and the list goes on. These events in the global south, our continual 11th of September, are still going on as seen by Venezuela and the US does not bat an eyelid. Its citizens, who one would think would show empathy, instead do nothing at the best of times or bay for the blood of those who have never harmed them at the worst.
The answer to ‘Why do they hate us?’ and attack us was to immediately go to war, it was to extend their military footprint and it was to increase their exploitation of the global south, using the violent but expected attacks on them as justification and reason that we should either support them or ignore them. They ask, sometimes genuinely ‘Why do they hate us?’, but they never stop to ask ‘Why should we mourn for you?’ Are we in the global south not weary of mourning for our own? Are we in Jamaica not weary of the murders carried out at the hands of gangs which get their guns from the US, which send their drugs to the US and who are invariably used as proxies to do their dirty work as seen in Colombia and Mexico?
America, the land of immigrants, has an acute case of amnesia. Once you enter that country you forget the traumas it inflicted on your home nation, forget that in the grand scheme they are the reason that you had to leave, having impoverished your country through neo-liberal programmes and sowing seeds of violence in countries which oppose their dictates, and the children of immigrants and the immigrants themselves ask the same imperial question ‘Why do they hate us?’
On this day, more than any, I know why those in the global south hate America. The chant ‘death to America’ does not mean and has never meant death to Americans, it means death to a system which sees its suffering as the only one worth noting, it means death to a system which, even while it mourns attacks carried out on it, launches wars of aggression and regime change operations in order to cement its economic and military supremacy.
It means death to the empire, it means death to a system which demands other nations be poor so they can live high on the hog. On this day that is what we should all be wishing for and thinking about. We should not ask why they hate America, we know the answer, we should demand an end to empire, an end to the cult of the self and work to bring forth a new future built on justice, equity, and equality.