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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

9/11: Diary of a rookie Communist


SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | New Delhi, September 12, 2011 17:16
Tags : 9/11 | WTC | Terrorism | Communist | Left movement | Palestine |

I still remember the day it happened. In fact, everybody would. Each individual of the baby-boomer generation still remember what he or she was doing when President Kennedy was mortally shot. For my generation, 9/11 had the same effect. I was in class 11th, in Delhi, preparing for my Economics paper for the mid semester exams. While mugging the theories of micro-economics, loitering in the boys' common room, I suddenly saw TV screen flicker and the anchor at the CNN desk gave way to the raw footage of the impact. My initial reaction was of shock, awe and I wont mince, absolute delight. Today, in retrospective, I feel ashamed that I was delighted, but when it happened, of all the emotions, it was delight that took an upper-hand. For a boy of 18, who has been politically conscious since childhood and was deeply involved with the Left movement, it was difficult to see civilians and the administration separately. For us, Americans epitomized America and vice-versa. And setback to individual, in our eyes, was also a setback to the nation itself. And that's why the initial reaction was that of absolute delight.

Here, I must add, that my fellow hostlers were no less delighted. They were no Communists or Islamists or anything. But if there was anything common that day between all of us, it was that delight on our face. Chicken had come home to roost and we couldn't have asked for more. I was too young to see the demise of Soviet Union. But growing up in the post-Soviet Gorbachev and that puckish Yeltsin era, I could see that humiliation every day. In our burning heart, we so wanted to teach United States a lesson. And then happened 9/11.

It was only later that I came to understand the inherent fallacy in my delight. The loss of human life can never be celebrated; not even enemy's. In Punjabi, there is a maxim for it. It goes like “Dushman Mare Te Khushi Na Kariye, Sajna Vi Mar Jana” (Don't be delighted on your enemy's death for you never know, the next will be your friend”. And, that is what happened. The coalition attack on Afghanistan, and later Iraq, led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. I came to understand my shortcoming; sadly, Americans never did.

The incident also dealt setback to several of the causes I had dedicated my life to. And the topmost among them was the Palestinian cause. Smart Israelis managed to change the discourse of the world in short run by equating nationalists movements in Palestine with terrorism and profoundly hurt the pro-Palestinian sentiments in the world. In the United States and Europe, the rising Islamophobia and the hatred against Arabs was successfully channelized by Israeli 'Hasbara' propaganda machinery to discredit the movement for Palestine. It helped them in elongating the illegal occupation for another decade. They used to celebrate. Their leaders openly said, including the incumbent Netanyahu, that “9/11 was after all was not bad for them.” It indeed was, in the short run.

But in the long run, it did several wonders. More than anything, the incident was a dealt to American arrogance and this creepy feeling that even they are vulnerable, affected the psyche of the population. More than ever, we have a new breed of Americans that is questioning the policies by the successive American administrations that was instrumental in bring this wrath to their land. It has given a new lease of life to the moderates in the states and they saw their ranks and files swelling in the long run. Even among the otherwise linear American bureaucratic and diplomatic community, slowly, the question creeped in that for whom are they fighting this war for? Israel never wanted Americans to ask this question. But it was raised. More and more people in this upper echelon of power corridor are asking this question now. In fact, their commander in Iraq and their Vice President too. At least a section of this community has started seeing the Zionist regime as a strategic burden and not strategic asset. And that has helped my cause. And much more than anything else, the dent in confidence and the subsequent wars, indeed started the the countdown of the American century. It is so evident now. They won the battle. But we took the war.


(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017