Five Groups to be Angry at after September 11
Jay Michaelson
December, 2001

There's a lot of rage floating around. I know I felt it; shortly after September 11, I knocked over my desk at the office, broke appliances at home, and yelled at my friends. And you can feel it on the street, in angry rhetoric, steely determination, etc. And as the wounds from the attacks become less painful for those of us not directly affected by it, this anger is starting to replace hurt as the dominant emotion in the zeitgeist.

But unlike previous wars, this one doesn't give us any easy targets. Sure, there is Public Enemy #1, Osama himself, wagging his long fingers over Al Jazeera. But we can't seem to catch the bastard. And in the rhetoric of every war, it seems, since Vietnam, we're not really fighting anybody - we're fighting entities who don't represent anyone. Think about it: did we fight against the Serbs? The Iraqis? The Somalians? No, in each case, we were always fighting against a "despotic" regime, and were ultimately trying to "liberate" an oppressed population. No more hating 'the Nips' or 'the Krauts.' Maybe in today's post-acceptable-racism climate, fighting against groups is untenable. Maybe this is a very good thing.

But it's not good for our frustration. With only an underground network of fundamentalists as our enemy, the United States (and its increasingly small group of allies) is shadowboxing. Sure, we've bombed Afghanistan, but as everyone knows, there wasn't much to bomb to begin with. Mostly we've kicked up a lot of dust. But we're not going to catch the cavemen without some serious suffering first.

However, the rhetoric of "it's all of us against these few barbarians" and "united we stand" obscures the fact that there are, in fact, a number of groups who have behaved odiously before and since September 11. Certainly, none of the five on this list are anywhere near as odious as Al Qaeda and their genocidal stooges. And none of them are our enemies - indeed, some are Us. But rather than try to channel all our rage into one vague, shifting, and elusive place, we can use our frustration as a constructive force for positive change. Instead of pounding desks and calling for reprisals ("kill 'em all!"), I think we can be involved productively in making things better. If only we stop pretending that the only problems in the world are Osama and his blasphemous toadies.

So, then, in the positive spirit of channeling our indignation into productive use, here are five other groups to be angry at since September 11:

1. EGYPT. Egypt is the #2 recipient of US foreign aid, right after its enemy, Israel. (Hard to call Camp David a cold peace anymore, when Egyptian government bodies call for the murder of Israeli civilians.) It's also among the leading recipients of UN food and medical aid. And what do we get for our hundreds of billions of dollars per year? Government-run newspapers that equivocate when it comes to fundamentalism. Vicious anti-Semitic cartoons, articles, editorials - praising Hitler, denying the holocaust, blaming the Mossad for the WTC attack, you name it. Why should anyone care about this except the ADL's handwringers? Because Al Qaeda is largely an Egyptian organization. Forget the Taliban. Osama's #2 was leader of Egypt's Islamic Brotherhood, which is sort of outlawed, but sort of tolerated. Mohammed Atta came out of Egypt's "educated" class. And, like it or not, the US is lumped in with "the Jews" and Israel. In other words, the guys who attacked us grew up to the drumbeat of virulent, violent antisemitism. They believe the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true. They believe Israel is worse than the Nazis. And we're supposed to think this didn't affect them at all? Come on.

Hosni Mubarak will say, hey, look at what they did to Sadat. I've already jailed thousands of Islamic fundamentalists. If I crack down any more, I'll be dead, and see what replaces me. What a load of bullshit. Supported by the US, if he cracks down more, more people will be in jail. Period. It's just that Mubarak is too cowardly to lead. King Abdullah in Jordan has quieted his fundamentalists; why can't Mubarak? And he doesn't have to arrest anyone to stop the government-run vitriol. Mubarak's state-run agencies add fuel to the fire, and then he complains that he can't get too close or he'll get burned. How about this: suspend all aid to Egypt until such time as Egypt's press is either free, or non- combative; until its educational curricula are no longer filled with historical revisionism and lies; and until antisemitism is as untolerated in Egypt as racism is here. Do this not to be kind to the Jews, but because the snake that Mubarak has created has already poisoned us once. And it'll bite again.

2. BIG OIL. Why are we coddling fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia and dictators in Central Asia? Now we need them for "the coalition," but for years we've cozied up to these sleazebags because there were billions of dollars at stake for big oil. We fought the Kuwait war (which is what, supposedly, angered Bin Laden so much) to protect our oil interests. We have enriched Arab dictatorships - whose outrageous corruption feeds resentment on the Arab street, leading to fundamentalism - because we're addicted to oil. And all this while starving research into alternative fuels and ways to get ourselves off the petroleum fix. Why, if oil leads time and time again to world instability - remember, if we piss off the Arabs too much now, we're economically doomed - do we continue to rely on it? Well, check out who's in the White House. Big Oil controls our government, and their interests trump those of the rest of us.

We should be outraged that Big Oil continues to squash efforts to develop alternative fuels; oppose more sensible fuel credits for hybrid and electric cars; and now wants to rip open the Arctic wilderness for six months' worth of oil. Of all the chutzpah, Big Oil's spinmeisters are now saying we've got to drill in the Arctic to "rid ourselves of dependency on foreign oil." Here's a better idea: stop depending on oil, period. Tax cars for each MPG they get below 50. Incentivize people to move away from oil and to sources that don't warm the Earth and feed the flames of war. Enough lives have been lost because of our dependence on Arab oil. And the main reason we have that dependence is the greed of American oil companies.

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