Readers respond to Joan Walsh's "It's My Country and I'll Cry if I Want To."

By Salon Staff

Published September 11, 2002 7:10PM (EDT)

[Read the article.]

You seem to have a bright line established as you ponder the blame game on the 9/11 disaster. There is no bright line involved here; everything has many forces contributing to it in a cacophany from which eventually emerges a result.

For 9/11, one of those pieces is the U.S.'s inept, selfish and violent foreign policy and business ethos. Another piece is the ugly and psychotic mess that is the religious fundamentalism of some in the Middle East. Another is the rapid advance of technology that criminals hijack for their evil purposes. And there are many more. Why can't you get over some "lefties" ascribing more culpability to U.S. actions? You make it seem as if they are wildly unreasonable, when instead they are in the ballpark along with the many other factors. I feel you are falling prey to the left-bashing bandwagon in this country.

There is no bright line. There is only a nebulous cloud of contributing forces. Ask any psychoanalyst or nuclear physicist. It is futile to expect simple cause-and-effect in life. That simpleton view is for cops-and-robbers television fiction. It's not what I expect of journalism.

-- Anthony Peters

I have no objection to mourning the victims of the Sept. 11 attack. Rabid leftist that I am, I shall be including prayers for them at both Matins and Evensong.

What I do object to is the wallowing, the pre-fabricated sentimentality. This is not mourning, it is self-indulgence, a perverse sort of entertainment.

The net effect of it all will be to rekindle the sort of mindless patriotism that will support a war in Iraq, and the cycle will begin again.

-- Charles W. Mock

Once again, someone is suggesting that anyone critical of foreign policy is un-American and hates Americans. It is exactly this kind of "step-in-line" attitude that you rail against in the Bush administration one minute, but then you practice yourself the next minute as you suggest that anyone trying to point out other significant tragedies or simply the flaws in foreign policy over the years hates America and Americans and again, as was suggested in the 2000 election, is giving something of importance to the Republicans (now, Sept. 11 -- in 2000, the White House). People who dissent do not hate America. People who are critical of the hoopla surrounding Sept. 11 do not hate those who died that day. Everyone agrees that remembering Sept. 11 is a GOOD IDEA. Apparently, though, trying to give it some perspective is just too much for the censors. God bless the U.S.(S.R.)

-- Christopher Dazey

Joan Walsh's is the most thoughtful piece on Sept. 11 I've read. Thank you very much for it.

I would have her revisit, if only to amplify, one point: "There's no denying Sept. 11 gave Bush a legitimacy the Supreme Court couldn't, which is why he continues to wrap himself in the symbolism of the tragedy -- but that's no reason to pretend it wasn't really a tragedy." I submit that the legitimizing of Bush's administration is in fact the gravest aspect of the tragedy, the deepest, and perhaps the one mortal wound which the attackers inflicted on democracy.

Had the attack not occurred, the New York Times/Washington Post recount of the Florida vote would certainly have played differently in the national media. Books by Jeffrey Toobin et al. on the theft of the election would have received the attention they deserve. Then at least the junta would have been hobbled in its mania to loot the treasury and impose an Ashcroftian theocracy. Instead, Bush, a man without any qualification for office but name recognition, and thus one of the most mediocre monarchs ever created by any modern society, has ruled almost unfettered by the checks and balances of the Constitution. Under cover of "war" he has very effectively silenced the press and his political opponents, allowing his handlers' operatives to savage the environment, the economy, and the discourse to such an extent that the nation may never recover.

Desperate to maintain the absolute "wartime" impunity with which they have thus far operated, Bush and his cronies will now lead us, unprovoked, into a war with a country that has not attacked us, for reasons at best unclear, and more likely completely counterfeit. That Bush obsesses so for this war, and is willing to risk a vastly wider war with the entire Muslim world to make his dream come true, indicates clearly that his incompetence borders on, and perhaps crosses into, pathological delusion. His ambition meshes eerily, in folie a deux, with that of Osama bin Laden, leading one to wonder, is this the ultimate expression of the Mullah's evil genius, and the ultimate aim of the attacks in the first place.

-- David Essex

Joan Walsh makes a staggering leap of logic to suggest that criticism of a brutal foreign policy establishment somehows blames the victims of the World Trade Center for their own unfortunate demises.

Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network were carefully cultivated by a Reagan-era foreign policy team to inflict grievous harm upon civilian populations all over the world. To not blame the Reagan-era team, many of whom have reentered the White House, cedes more authority to Karl Rove than any other excuse that Walsh can come up with.

We don't hate America. If Ms. Walsh finds herself singing "America the Beautiful" tomorrow, perhaps she will understand what we really hate. The part of that song that sings "Crown thy good with brotherhood/from sea to shining sea," can communicate no more clearly the unfortunately fashionable idea present throughout the American foreign policy establishment that American values and freedoms shouldn't be respected, especially by Americans, everywhere in the world.

This idea that anything goes in the rest of the world is what killed the WTC's victims. An American foreign policy establishment that offers forth a closed fist of brutality rather than an open hand of hope will only bring us more anniversaries for grief.

-- Michael Roston

Absolutely the best 9/11 anniversary essay I've read. The kitsch-ification of this memorial, the pathetic insensitivity of the Left, the calculating opportunism of the administration. Only our best writers can bring it all into focus. Like Springsteen, Joan Walsh has performed a public service.

-- Scot Sea

Joan Walsh makes some good points about the right seizing the memory of Sept. 11. But all of this was blindingly obvious, even on Sept. 11. When big events occur, one must be ready, but the left was caught utterly flat-footed. With very few exceptions (Todd Gitlin, Christopher Hitchens) the left was revealed to be ignorant and stupid and wrong as well. Why many on the left could predict a quagmire in Afghanistan when very few of them knew anything about how the military works is beyond me. Any uneducated person anywhere in the U.S. could have done better. If the right seizes Sept. 11 for its own purposes, it probably reflects the fact that they work harder and know more.

-- Marc Valdez

Unlike Joan Walsh, I am capable of feeling sorrow over the American victims of 9/11/01 and the Chilean victims of CIA-backed terror on 9/11/73 -- they are not mutually exclusive. I am capable of feeling horror at the hatred inherent in the acts of 9/11 as well as understanding the role of U.S. foreign policy in creating part of that hatred -- that understanding is not "blaming the victims," it's a blueprint on how to prevent future horrific attacks. On 9/11 the world joined us and supported us in our grief. Why is it so difficult for us to do likewise?

-- Mark Meredith

Walsh's editorial makes some valid points about the exploitation and commercialization of what should be a somber, private and individual day of memorial. But she makes one statement that seems to seek only to divide a grieving and understandably inquisitive America.

Regarding the "leftist" view that a U.S. foreign policy is responsible in part for the Sept. 11 attacks, Walsh says: "Isn't it sort of another way to blame the WTC victims? They died because these other people died in these other countries, thanks to evil U.S. policies."

It is the writer's own perverted notion that a negative view of the government's foreign policy should be equated with a desire to blame innocent Americans.

Bin Laden is a monster. He is a heartless religious zealot who has murdered thousands of people. I know of exactly zero U.S.-policy-critical liberals who believe otherwise.

When "the left" points out that the United States' often belligerent and hypocritical foreign policies might have some significance in determining the root causes of terrorism, it does so in search of truth. It isn't about politics. It's about necessary introspection and an attempt to understand our world and make it better. If Walsh wants to take this as an assertion that the Sept 11 attacks were somehow justified and that innocent people deserved to die, then she has jumped to this conclusion on her own.

A physician who tells a patient that the cigarettes he's smoked for many years may have something to do with his lung cancer is not saying that the patient deserved to get cancer. Walsh would have us believe this doctor is "anti-patient."

-- Jack Walther

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------