While checking out comments on Peter Feaver’s Reflections on 9/11 post, this commenter‘s link caught my eye (she seems to be “spamming/promoting” her post in comment sections on news sites). It’s an interesting piece from the perspective of an Indian woman who chose writing as a profession, came to the U.S. for her master’s degree, married and settled in California. At the time of 9/11/01, she was a citizen of India and describes what she felt at the time; and she describes her reaction to the debate we’re having, 9 years later (since I am not blockquoting this part, please go to Mansi Bhatia’s blog to read her description of how she experienced the 9/11 attacks while living in India):
The implications of the terrorist attack on the world’s greatest superpower were far reaching — more than the masterminds behind this attack, could ever think of.
I’ve witnessed eight anniversaries in the U.S. since and the memories are still as vivid, the pain still as fresh.
Only now, we’re turning against each other with more hatred and greater passion.
This country is seeing more intolerance, more skepticism, and more unrest. We’re letting the terrorists finally achieve what they set out to do on September 11, 2001. We’re helping move their agenda forward by letting that terror live inside us.
Our first instinct then, as it is now, was to look out for our own. To preserve what we held dear to our hearts. To do what served our self-interest best.
But not at the price of democracy. And never by putting humanity on the line.
Sitting halfway across the world, it was those images, those stories of men, women, children and families that struck a chord in everyone’s hearts … I didn’t know anyone personally but I found myself crying at the unnecessary tragedy that had introduced itself into these people’s lives.
And today, sitting in the country where it all happened, I find myself shaking my head at the unnecessary debates about a mosque being built on Ground Zero. My mind doesn’t even know how to react to plans of burning the Quran.
I hear the constant chatter about how fearful we are, or should be. I read the tweets, the headlines, the barrage of messages that tell us to never forget 9/11.
We won’t. We can’t.
What happened this day nine years ago will be etched forever in the hearts and minds of everyone who witnessed it, no matter what part of the world they were in.
But it was the past. And we have the power to choose the future.
Mansi’s an American now (6 years, I believe). The rest of her post has the typical multiculturalist COEXIST sentiment that conservatives tend to derisively ridicule as naïveté.
I welcome FA readers to share their personal experience on that black Tuesday morn; and where their thoughts are at 9 years later.
As an aside, some other opinions carried in Indian mainstream news media:
In the Daily News & Analysis paper, Sanjeev Nayar compares Ground Zero and the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, in India, to express support for both the American opposition to an Islamic center near the 9/11 site and Hindu claims to the site of a mosque that they believe once housed a temple marking the birthplace of the god Ram. (The Babri mosque was razed by militant Hindu groups in 1992, sparking sectarian riots in the country, particularly in Mumbai.)
“One hundred years from now Americans will only see the mosque, and the Twin Towers will be distant memory. Two hundred years later, Americans might doubt if the Twin Towers ever existed,” wrote Mr. Nayyar on Thursday. “Babar’s general similarly attempted to rewrite history by destroying the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. If the temple had existed, no Indian court or political party would have doubt (sic) the existence of Sri Ram!”
In the Indian Express, op-ed writer Amulya Ganguli says that “it doesn’t take a suicide attack on a city to generate Islamophobia,” noting that a plan to build a small mosque in a Delhi neighborhood was recently abandoned after local residents complained.
In the case of the razing of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992, the “immediate provocation” was almost half a millenium earlier, he said Thursday.
“What is evident, therefore, is that Muslim-baiters need just an excuse for their targeting of the minority community and their places of worship,” writes Mr. Ganguy. “It does not matter if an act of violence had taken place on September 11, 2001, or five centuries earlier in 1528. The guilt of the Muslims is irredeemable.”
Indian security expert B. Raman, writing in the Sri Lanka Guardian, said the world needs to ponder how it can convince “Muslim youth that we are seeking to counter terrorism and not Islam?”
“Al Qaeda has not only had a geographic spread. It has also had an ethnic spread by exploiting the feelings of Islamic solidarity and the victim complex of the Muslims of the world,” wrote Mr. Raman. “By projecting the counter-terrorism campaigns of different countries as a war against Islam and not a fight against terrorism, it has been able to draw the support of Muslims belonging to different ethnic groups and of different nationalities.”
Ajit Ranade, in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid, thinks back to the events of another Sept. 11 in America, this one in 1893, when revered Hindu mystic philosopher Swami Vivekananda spoke at the first World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, held alongside the city’s world fair that year.
The lesson from the events of the two 9/11s, over a century apart, is to make Sept. 11 a day for marking “anti-fanaticism,” Mr. Ranade writes today—not to turn it into International Quran Burning Day.
Mr. Ranade quotes these remarks made by Swami Vivekananda to the Chicago gathering:
“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair.Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.
But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”