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Could this also be seen an act of revolution? America has become the hated upper class of the world, in the eyes of many people, not just fanatical Islamists. This is how we are seen by a lot of people in Africa, Latin American, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Asia. I am constantly having to defend America in my travels. Here we are, 4% of the world’s population who cornered 66% of its resources, if Jeremy Rifkin is to be believed. We have all the goodies, and this obviously isn’t right and a reasonable motive for revolution. As J.Paul Getty said, there will always be someone in the penthouse. The class struggle will always exist. But now it has transcended national borders.
So perhaps this attack can be compared—along with the more obvious comparisons– to the bombing of Tsar Alexander II in on March 13, l881 by a 25-year-old Polish students named Ignacy Grinevitsky, who was Jewish, which prompted a wave of pogroms against the Jews. After that act, which struck at the very heart of Russia, it was clear to everyone that the days of the tsar and the aristocracy were numbered, although the revolution that brought them down didn’t happen for another 36 years. Maybe that was the message that Bin Laden was sending. The party is over, America. And he was just the messenger. If it hadn’t been him, it would have been somebody else. Not that what he did can be countenanced, not to diminish the diabolical insanity of what he did, cutting short 6800 innocent lives and counting. That’s how it always is in these liquidations, I thought as I stood there with the others: a lot of good people get killed because of some “ism.” A lot of useful, innocent people are lost.
It was also now stunningly clear to me that mainstream American culture is just as vulnerable as the species and cultures that it is destroying. I realized that I was going to have to expand the mission of the Dispatches. Spread the web of compassion to embrace my own culture, cut it some well-deserved slack. The insecurity that most of the world lives in has come to our shores.
Now there will be more xenophobia. The part of America that I have big problems with will come back to the fore. Africa will be left to its own devices as resources are diverted to the war against the terrorists, and support systems already woefully inadequate will collapse, which will result in all the more loss of species and cultures. A whole lot more loss is in store. I am starting to dislike this word. It’s one of these buzzwords of the moment, like closure, and oxymoron a year or two ago, which is already old and on the way out. But the very fact that it is in such wide circulation these days is perhaps telling.