Blame America First

by | Jan 20, 2002

I was in the university section of Pittsburgh for a meeting right after the attacks of September 11, just an hour after thousands of people had been burned alive or crushed to death or jumped to their deaths from the top of the inferno that had been the World Trade Center, before any of us […]

I was in the university section of Pittsburgh for a meeting right after the attacks of September 11, just an hour after thousands of people had been burned alive or crushed to death or jumped to their deaths from the top of the inferno that had been the World Trade Center, before any of us knew what was happening, before we knew if other jets full of civilians were on their way to plow into the Capitol or White House, before the American government knew if it was safe for Air Force One to fly from Florida to Washington.

Walking into the meeting, I ran into a long time acquaintance, a black female professor, someone I’d met years ago in our classes at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. “Do you think,” she asked, “it’s because we walked out of the race conference?”

She was referring to the pullout by the United States from a West-bashing United Nations summit in South Africa called the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, a conference title clearly concocted by a quixotic and overblown committee of international bureaucrats.

American displeasure with the conference agenda, explained Secretary of State Colin Powell, was based on “hateful language” aimed at Israel in the draft documents and the singling out of Israel for “censure and abuse” by the Arab states.

In fact, the lack of U.S. attendance was not, of course, the reason for the attacks of September 11. The decision not to send a delegation was announced by President Bush on August 24, more than a year after most, if not all, of the 19 terrorist hijackers had been in and out of the United States attending various flight schools in Florida, Maryland, California, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

Rather than uncovering anything wrong that the United States had done to bring on the terrorism, what my colleague’s question revealed was the clear and enduring propensity, all too common in academe, to blame-America-first for whatever happens, a posture that’s more reflex than rational.

A few examples illustrate the predisposition, a self-flagellating stance that, before all else, is anti-West, anti-American and anti-capitalist:

Delivered before the dust had even settled at the World Trade Center, the analysis from leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, former editor of Mother Jones magazine and producer of “Roger and Me,” a film about how General Motors Chairman Roger closed a plant and devastated Moore’s small town and forced unemployed women to sell rabbit meat to make ends meet: “The amazing thing is that you can still get a Wall Street Journal — anywhere and everywhere. As I write this late Sunday Night, the captains of capitalism are declaring that the stock exchange will re-open on Monday, even if they don’t have running water and phones, just to show its enemies that NOTHING (emphasis in original) can stop the forward accumulation of wealth.”

And it’s our fault, said Moore, if the terrorists are whacko: “We have orphaned so many children, tens of thousands around the world, with our taxpayer-funded terrorism –in Chile, Vietnam, Gaza, Salvador — that I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised when those orphans grow up and are a little whacked in the head from the horror we have helped cause.”

Even in death, Moore sees not Americans under deadly assault but only the hatred, envy and class warfare of Marxism, a proletariat class buried under the debris while the bourgeoisie are off setting up shop: “The vast majority of the dead are those who labored to bring them (the capitalists) that wealth, and it dishonors them and their families to so callously crank up the greed machine within days of this tragedy. Their bodies — thousands of them — are still buried under the rubble down the street, but, hey, why wait to give them a proper burial — let’s get busy making some money! One can only hope that the stench from the rotting corpses of their former employees will haunt them for the rest of the day and remain in their consciences for days to come.”

There’s nothing there, naturally, about Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 suicide attacks, nothing about bin Laden, and nothing about his crew of dysfunctional cavemen who are obsessed with destroying the United States.

From Professor Robert Jensen at the University of Texas, a conclusion that the events of September 11 were “no more despicable

Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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