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Observing 9-11 at the ‘Other’ Twin Towers

Perhaps it is the experience of working in the shadows of the World Trade Center buildings that I continue too ascribe the term ‘Twin Towers’ with the two-plus buildings destroyed 6 years ago in cowardly act of senseless terrorism.Dean in front of the Patronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I certainly do not use ‘other’ to slight the buildings you see me pictured with to the right – as I freely admit – I find them far more attractive to the ‘boxy lady’ images that loomed over downtown for a couple of decades.

Still, I feel kinda awkward being half a planet away in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 7th anniversary of the murder of thousands of innocent non-combatants were senselessly murdered in a fervor of religious zealotry.

Part of my awkwardness comes out of my recent experiences traveling abroad these past couple of years – where I’ve more than once either been the recipient or witness to anti-American sentiment. The most recent incident being the tepid, almost non-existent, applause that greeted the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Band at the Kuala Lumpur International Tattoo 2007.

I say tepid in relevance to the warm welcome offered the military bands of other countries.

I’ll also say I was never prouder than when I heard the roar of approval from the crowd after the Pacific Fleet Band delivered a flawless, thoughtful and moving performance. Remember folks, I was a professional opera singer – I know about audiences and music – and I know these young men and women did a fantastic job despite a chilly welcome.

Which begs the oft asked question: why do they hate us?

As I said, I’ve had a lot of chances to speak to a lot of people from a lot of places lately. Here’s the best I can figure:

  • Some hate us because the BBC and other news outlets present the U.S. in a poor light at every opportunity. At least that’s how I perceive the news when I watch it from various international airports and hotels.
  • Some hate us because they do not like our president. Of that number, a large majority are just soooo rabid and soooo seeking a distraction from their own problems, that they will continue to hate us long after G.W.Bush leaves office.
  • Some hate us because they are raised from a very young age to hate us – often in institutes of religious education.
  • Most of the above hate us because if they didn’t – then they’d have to face their own causes for their own economic and political problems. And you don’t need Dr.Phil to remind you that no co-dependent ever wants to realize themselves as the major cause of the majority of their own problems.

What can we do despite such dysfunctions?

  • Engage, listen to and debate open and honestly with those who strongly disagree with U.S. Policy – but do not hate the U.S. Such are usually reasonable people whose passion is to be appreciated.
  • Do what the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Band did – perform despite such ill will. That includes continuing our outrageous acts of charity when calamity strikes other nations. Continue to feed their poor, educate their children, send medical aid to their sick. Mostly continue to do this through the private sector so as to divorce any politics from said performances.
  • Know what we believe and why – and be willing to describe it, debate it and teach it calmly and rationally – even when loud, hateful voices spew invective from both sides of the argument.

Anyway, I’ll be back on a technical track tomorrow – much stuff seen and learned here at the Microsoft Tech*Ed SEA 2007 – much to discuss here with regards to your church website.

Now if you don’t mind me, I have some prayers to attend to.

6 Comments

  1. I think you make some good points. I don’t personally hate the US as a whole; I dislike some of the laws (eg DMCA), and some of the foreign policy. The wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have certainly not endeared the US to the rest of the world.

    Like many Britons, I find what appears to be a blind patriotism, and seemingly endless enthusiasm for all things American to be slightly wearing, but this is, in part at least, a stereotype.

    Hollywood hasn’t helped, for sure. A classic example is the film U571 – a film based on a true story of wartime courage, but for some unexplained reason changed the nationality of the heroes from British to American.

    An interesting book that covers this subject is one by Robert Ludlum (of Bourne fame) called “The Jansen Directive” – definitely worth a read, if you like this kind of stuff mixed up with your fiction.

    Anyway – interesting topic, and one worth further discussion.

  2. MrBen – thanks for the input.

    My only thought would be – what is shaping non-US viewpoints to think that the majority of us practice a ‘blind’ patriotism?

    My experiences abroad have demonstrated to me that most U.S. citizens are no more nationalistic than others from other countries.

    Perhaps it is because our few outliers get all the press?

  3. All four of your reasons why people hate the US go “they hate us because they…” but, as you point out yourself “no co-dependent ever wants to realize themselves as the major cause of the majority of their own problems.”

    Sometimes the US has done things that are in hindsight bad, or that have promoted US interests at the expense of others and those at the receiving end have good reason to dislike the US its not because they’re foolish or misled or hiding behind it they have their reasons. All countries do bad things sometimes, but few are surprised when the victims of these policies are less then friendly in return.

    Probably the major flaw in your arguement however is that you fall into the “everybody thinks X” trap, the world is not one homgeneous blob. Many people dislike the way the US acts on the world stage, many other people find overzelous pariotism scarey (especially in europe, where blind devotion to the flag tends to lead to invading Poland), others have an array of other reasons, and yes some people see the US as the Great Satan. But lets be clear, 99.99(etc)% of people who disagree strongly with one or other US policy dont want to see the US destroyed, they just want to see some changes.

    This wasn’t meant to be a rant but I worry that the “everybody hates us, we dont care” attitude is in danger of becoming a self fulfilling prophecy, and that would be a very bad thing for everybody worldwide.

  4. Chris, as always I appreciate input – even when it is contrary. That said, I think you may have tried to be a bit too slick in attempting to turn my own arguments against on top of myself by implying an empiricism of all when I clearly said “they” and “some.”

    And despite an acknowledging disclaimer at the end of your argument, I think you erode your own arguments when you broad-brush US policy, and acceptance thereof, with comparisons lock-step acceptance to Nazi Fascism. Such reprehensible references productive in any form of dialog, nor do they reflect the diversity of political opinion that actually exists in the U.S.

    Similarly, I also speculate that there isn’t _any_ country that could hurdle a bar set to high as to have policies that all parties at all places of the planet like at all the time. That, and I would also argue that no disagreeable policy gives excuse to the events of 9-11, nor the foment of religious hatred infecting children as young as 5 in madrassas to the point they turn themselves into human bombs, behead journalists and/or use women and children as shields for asynchronous guerrilla attacks.

    Sorry, but thought the U.S. has made its share of mistakes, I think the hatred I’ve seen and experienced is often an excuse to avoid the type of self-examination and peaceful dialog & disagreement that goes on, on a daily basis, here in the U.S.

  5. I tend to not watch the news these days but our papers in the UK are full of how biased the BBC is. Personally I don’t see it but what I do see is professional and impartial reporting.

    Your citing the Beeb as guilty of causing the world to hate America is, to be honest, laughable. When I do watch the news what they report may not be to your agreement or understanding (after all we may technically speak the same language but are streets apart in reality) – but does that make them biased? I think not.

    My opinion of why folks hate America. Well for one I agree with MrBen but it isn’t just U571 that alters facts, pretty much any Hollywood based film (fact or fiction) portrays America as the great saviour of the world but that when they do portray other nations it is always with an extreme stylisation. As an example I cite “Independence Day” when you get the Brits saying and I paraphrase for effect “I say old chap, about time America helped”. Well no surprise here, ut most Brits don’t talk that way.

    Hollywood aside, for whatever reasons, and I can only speak for myself and those I know whom dislike America it is because as a country you can portray yourself as Number 1 and come up with tiles like “World Champions” in a sport like baseball – which may surprise Americans isn’t played Worldwide.

    Oh and as you raised it – 9/11 or as we might say in the UK 11/9 which doesn’t give it quite the same ring. I was as horrified as any who was unconnected to the event, but like with Diana’s death (and here I risk treason because I don’t tow the corporate UK line) you go on about it too much.

    Bad stuff happens all over the world every day. Atrocities the like of 11/9 not so often but happen they do – it is the ongoing reactions that get to folks I feel.

    It is these and other reasons that I have found folks dislike America. Me, I have no problems with you – I may not understand you, may not like certain aspects, but you’re doing ok in my book.

  6. Stuart, to me it sounds like a problem with Yanks in general – as demonstrated in your broad-brushed paint-job of what you perceive to be my perceptions; as inaccurate as they are.

    Simply put, no journalism school worth its salt teaches doesn’t point that that stories prefaced with conclusions such so “so-called” “unpopular” and/or my favorite “myopic policy of” … all situations where commentary are being interjected as news.

    That said, I can see how individuals exposed to this pre-chewed commentary offered in the form of news on a daily basis might not notices as neither a frog notices he’s being boiled when done slowly enough.

    A situation that is more lamentable than laughable as it leaves no room for dialog – and hence no room for making peace among ourselves.