I have written the following 24 declarations, neither as a citizen of any particular country nor a believer in any particular faith, but simply as a human being.
Here’s what I’m doing my best to never forget, today and every day:
- Operation Iraqi Freedom was predicated upon the lies of war profiteers; and no matter how deep one buries the truth, it will always be revealed.
- The 19 men who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon; none were from Iraq or Afghanistan.1
- Renaming things as innocuous as “freedom fries” or as reprehensible as “enhanced interrogation techniques” is an Orwellian practice of propagandist deception.
- What Voltaire said is still true: “Formerly there were those who said: ‘You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it.’ Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.”2
- 2,606 occupants of the World Trade Center, 265 occupants of the four airplanes, 147 first responders, 8,304 coalition military personnel, between 176,000 to 189,000 Iraqis, and various estimates ranging from 91,000 to 451,000 Afghans have died in the War on Terror since 2001, either at Ground Zero on the morning of 9/11, from inhaling carcinogens at Ground Zero after the morning of 9/11, on battlegrounds in foreign lands, or as a result of suicide in a place of their own choosing. These numbers include the 19 men who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.3
- Torture such as waterboarding is an inhuman practice, has been wisely banned by the Geneva Conventions4, is not a reliable means of gathering truthful information, and is not justified even on the rare occasions when it does result in truthful information.
- “Humiliating and degrading treatment,” such as the kind committed against detainees in Abu Ghraib, is also banned according to the Geneva Conventions.4
- Dehumanizing an enemy who has dehumanized you brings you down to their level.
- After the United States armed forces wasted $6 trillion on ten years of large-scale military operations5 in Iraq and Afghanistan—achieving nothing but taking about 200 Iraqi and Afghan lives in exchange for every 1 person killed by Saudis on 9/11—Osama Bin Laden was finally found and killed6 by a surgically tiny and cost efficient military strike in Pakistan.
- War on an idea can only be continuous and will never end, much less end in victory.
- What George Orwell said is still true: “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”7
- Death is forever, killing doesn’t undo killing, and it is a fundamental characteristic of all three Abrahamic religions that the legendary first murder was enough to declare that the act of murder is immoral.
- What Tom O’Golo said is still true: “Many fundamentalists end up defending or acting upon beliefs which are not really at the heart of their doctrine. For example any religious fundamentalist who harms others in the pursuit of his or her radicalism is strictly out of order as no true religion ever encounters anything but love, tolerance and understanding. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is at the heart of all genuine faiths, certainly the three based upon Abraham and God. That trio comprehensively condemns intentional harm to others (and to the self as well) for what ever reason. Dying to protect one’s faith is acceptable; killing to promote it isn’t. Arguably, it is blasphemous to say that God needs an earthly army to fight Its battles, or perform Its revenge. God is quite capable of fighting Its own battles.”8
- What my mother taught me as a child is still true: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
- The United States of America was founded on some very good principles that were radically new at the time. One of these was the principle that Freedom of Religion is a human right that should be guaranteed to all, including Muslims.
- What Joel Barlow said, and George Washington and John Adams agreed upon, is still true: “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”9
- Although the United States of America has committed a litany of atrocities in the 239 years since its inception (as well as those committed by colonists for 284 years before that), the men who founded my country saw it as “the Great Experiment,” an imperfect and unfinished work intended to constantly strive to improve upon itself, just as all people are meant to improve upon themselves from cradle to grave.
- Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth are virtues which by their nature demand the practice of peace, and are therefore undone and dishonored by aggression.
- It is better to live by one’s principles than to die for them.
- Extreme nationalism and extreme patriotism can create madness in any land.
- People from all countries want to live and be free; are all feeling beings capable of love, hate, happiness, anger, sadness, fear, desperation, and sympathy; and no nation, government, military, race, or religion has a monopoly on the understanding of the human experience.
- National borders are a human construct as artificial as any work of fiction, and none of them are visible or have any meaning from a god’s eye view.
- We Homo sapiens, as a species, are far beyond the point where we should have started finding more important things to obsess over than who comes from where and who believes what.
And here’s one final, radical thing that may be the hardest to swallow and easiest to forget: although we may never understand them, much less agree with them, and regardless of whether they were right or wrong, the men who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks had reasons for their actions which were every bit as human as yours or mine.
1CIA Document “DCI Testimony Before the Joint Inquiry into Terrorist Attacks Against the United States”, 2002
2Questions About Miracles, 1765
3Wikipedia, various articles
4“Geneva Conventions” (Wikipedia)
5“US Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq to Cost $6 trillion”, Sabir Shah, Global Research, 2013
6“Death of Osama bin Laden” (Wikipedia)
7Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949
8Christ? No! Jesus? Yes!: A radical reappraisal of a very important life, 1998
9Treaty of Tripoli, 1797