[pjw] REPORT BACK: 9/11, 20 Years Later: Friday rally #77 since stay-at-home orders
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Sat Sep 11 13:26:51 EDT 2021
PJW supporters and allies
Happy Patriot Day! What, you didn't remember that 9/11 was named as a
holiday shortly after the events of 2001? My calendar reminds me every
year, but even with the mass coverage of this anniversary, I haven't heard
anyone in the media say those words. Hmm. Interesting.
Last night's special extended rally to mark 20 years since 9/11 drew the
largest crowd we've had yet under COVID-- 14 people (plus one, more
below). This included a few Peace and Justice Works supporters I haven't
seen since before the pandemic, someone back for their 2nd or 3rd time,
and an unexpected appearance from a colleague involved in organizing
with us against the Joint Terrorism Task Force. We had plenty of
supportive honks and waves, and a few people who stopped by either to
lecture us (about how "collateral damage" was ok when you kill
"terrorists") or engage in discussion. About the numbers-- the 15th person
was expecting to meet up with other people from their group but not seeing
them, took of quietly without ever picking up a sign. The 14th person
arrived right at the end of the rally, and one person left at that point,
so we essentially had 13 people at the rally and 13 at the march but 14
I have to be honest that there are things that I could have done better--
I forgot to make extra copies of the event flyer, which would have given
us something to hand people explaining why we were there. Also, given the
"large" size of the crowd, I probably should have taken the chance to use
the electronic bullhorn rather than the orange traffic cone. Also due to
many other projects we've had going on at PJW, I did not have time to
create a fact sheet specific to this year. I've included links to ones
from previous 9/11 events below.
This brings me to the part of the rally that did not go at all as planned,
I suspect due to the Delta Variant and, perhaps, the Afghan withdrawal. We
had hoped to have three guest speakers to talk on the various topics, but
never got confirmation from two, and a third didn't show despite an
enthusiastic pledge to do so. Out of an overabundance of caution my
thought was to have one traffic cone per speaker so we weren't sharing a
mouthpiece that someone else had just yelled into. Live and learn, as we
do with COVID daily.
Anyway, realizing I'd need to deliver on the promise to cover all the
topics we laid out for the event-- "9/11: Twenty Years of War, Stoking
Fear, Erasing Rights and Misdirected Funding," I typed up remarks which
I'm pasting in below with added links for your information. I also threw
in a few ad-libbed remarks but this is the bulk of what I said.
We stand here on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Michael Moore was interviewed this week by mainstream TV who wondered why
he said that Osama Bin Laden won. He explained that the US got drawn into
a war that cost $300 million a day, killed thousands of people, expanded
to other countries, and led to the erosion of privacy rights and other
elements of American democracy.
He said that he and Barbara Lee stood alone in opposing the war on
Afghanistan, but we know that is not true. People in Portland protested
shortly after 9/11 demanding no war in our name, rallied when the war
began on October 7, and have been on this corner or nearby every single
week for the Friday Rally since November 2001.
The "War on Terror" created the age of robotic warfare, with drone strikes
taking place in Yemen in 2002. Since then there have been an estimated 229
more, with at least 116 civilians killed out of 1367 deaths.
In Pakistan from 2004 to 2018 there were at least 430 drone strikes and
424 civilian deaths. In Somalia, where the drone strikes have continued
under President Biden, there have been nearly 300 strikes and dozens of
In Afghanistan, where US troops finally left after nearly 20 years, there
were over 13,000 drone strikes. And the last known such strike was done in
retaliation for the attack on Americans and Afghans at the Kabul Airport,
killing 10 civilians and leading the families involved to wonder why.
Airwars this week estimated the total number of civilians killed just by
airstrikes since 9/11 is 48,000.
President Bush of course falsely tried tying Iraq into what happened on
9/11 and destroyed and invaded that country, which was already decimated
due to over 12 years of the most stringent sanctions in history.
The US also launched a war against Libya in 2011, plunging that country
into chaos from which they are slowly recovering 10 years later.
Despite President Biden's claims otherwise, the US still has about 900
troops on the ground in Syria, not authorized by that country, Congress,
or the United Nations.
(yes, it's a Fox news story, but still accurate about the troops)
The PATRIOT act led to a decimation of people's civil liberties, and the
hunt for so-called terrorists produced both a specific rise in
Islamophobia and broad backlash against people who do not look like they
immigrated from Europe.
These right wing sentiments have festered, and led to the rise of the
Proud Boys and other groups who continue to push their white supremacist
views on the streets of Portland and elsewhere.
Between the wars, including taking care of veterans’ injuries and burying
the dead, expanding the security state and other mis-spent funds in the
wake of 9/11, it’s estimated the US spent $21 trillion. Just imagine what
we could have done to house people, end climate change, provide jobs,
education and health care if that money had been spent wisely.
(I also sent this link out last week)
We held a rally in late 2019 noting that people born after the Afghan war
began were now joining the military and heading over to fight. For what
it’s worth, President Biden made this same point in his talks about
pulling out of Afghanistan.
The aftermath of 9/11 also included the opening of the prison at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in January 2002. There are still 39 people there,
many of whom have been cleared for release, and only a few who have been
convicted of any crime.
(the number of prisoners cleared for release, by the way, is 10.
The others are "forever prisoners" or have stood / will stand trial)
Like the events of 9/11, the pandemic that has brought the country to a
standstill in many ways should have brought us all together. Do you
remember all the ads last year that said "We're all in this together"?
That was a promise not just for Americans but the whole planet. Yet the US
seems very focused on reopening its own economy rather than helping the
whole world overcome the pandemic. And from 2001 to today, the unified
message from Bush to Obama to Trump to Biden is that the response to
violent acts like what happened on 9/11 is to respond with more violence.
We say no!
To pepper the march with more information, I also relayed this week's
Israel-Palestine news along the way, which is that President Biden has
apparently agreed to keep up the US' charade that they won't say whether
or not Israel's well-known supply of nuclear weapons exists. Ironic, since
the US and Israel are wanting to bomb Iran for trying to get a nuclear
Finally, to speak to "Money for Human Needs Not War," I noted an article
says the defense industry spent $1 Billion to lobby congress since 9/11
and received-- can you guess? -- $2 Trillion back.
I had meant to mention this other article about human rights groups
talking about the devastating impact of post 9/11 actions but sometimes
you can only do so much. Here's a link for you:
I also realized (duh as a co-founder of Portland Copwatch) I should have
tied in the militarization of police since 9/11, though as a commentator
on the radio was saying the other day, that was actually going on before
the day "everything changed."
Here are the links to our fact sheets from the 5th, 10th and 15th
anniversaries in 2006, 2011 and 2016.
Feel free to join us as we head toward the 20th anniversary of the Friday
rallies in early November. I believe last night's was the 1037th
consecutive event (my guesstimate had been about 1040, so pretty close).
We'll be going back to the normal 5 PM start time next week.
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