Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: Nekeisha A.B.
The anniversary of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. represents many things to many people. When I do reflect on it, as I am now, it calls to mind a montage of images from my time in the city both during and after that memorialized day. My computer screen with instant messages from friends living in other states, asking for help locating their parents. A solemn, confused, traumatized city filled with posters of missing people. My church family and I, walking together protesting the wars against Afghanistan and later Iraq. Silent demonstrations shrouded in black with signs proclaiming, “Our grief is not a cry for war.” Derek, my friend with developmental disabilities that died years later from the dust and debris he had breathed on that day.
But beyond our personal memories, the primary purpose of commemorating this day is American myth-making. Although the pomp and circumstance dedicated to that day may not state it explicitly, the moral of this political story is that the only 11th of September worth remembering is the one in which Americans were attacked and killed; that the only noncombatants worth venerating are ours; that the only civilians that should never experience politically motivated violence from foreign hands live on this soil; that only people who hate freedom and democracy would dare strike at it’s main purveyors and perhaps chief of all that America is always, always innocent.
Thank goodness for truth-telling.
On Friday, I was pleased to see a note on a bulletin board, titled “Commemorating the victims of September 11.” In part it read:
On September 11, 1973, the United States Central Intelligence Agency supported a bloody military coup in Chile, ousting democratically elected Salvador Allende and leading to the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Approximately 3,000 people were tortured, disappeared and killed as a result.
The American-backed coup resulted in “Chilean liberals of all walks of life being rounded up and either executed or ‘disappeared’.” 1 In the weeks and months that followed, Pinochet’s regime murdered 20,000 people and tortured 60,000 others in the streets and in military detention centers or at the soccer stadium, which had been “fashioned into a concentration camp.” (ZMag) One of them, celebrated folk singer Victor Jara, was tortured, beaten and electrocuted for four days before being machine-gunned to death at 38 in the very place he had once performed. 2
Although the 11th of September is a heart-wrenching day for many people in this country, particularly those who lost loved ones in New York and in Washington, it is vital that we who are loyal to Christ above all and who seek to love the world as God loves choose to remember rightly. The truth is that there have been many “9/11s” throughout history and they are all worth remembering. The truth is that billions of people around the world have suffered and died from political violence, much of which has been backed by American power. And perhaps chief of all, the truth is that while the people who are caught in the crossfire ought not be blamed for their deaths, no nation is ever, ever innocent.
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Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Liza Minno Bloom
Eda Ruhiye Uca