Unity, Maine, 91-year-old activist "Granny D" (Doris) Haddock,
spoke publicly about the terrible events of September 11.
Most people don't want to hear arguments about the policies and practices of their political leaders, Ms. Haddock says; butthis is the time when it must be done.
"Our neighbours and children are being killed in great numbers because Americans are not in control of the American government and haven't been for some time," she said. "And now we are being killed by our own airplanes, just as we were killed in our African embassies in 1998, by our own explosives -- which we gave to the Islamic fundamentalists so that they would please kill our then enemies, the Russians."
It was only four months ago that the current Bush administration gave $43 million to the Taliban so it would kill U.S. enemies, the heroin dealers in Afghanistan, she said -- or was it to protect an oil pipeline, as we are now hearing?
"Our subcontracting of death has never done us much good," she said, "with VietNam still the shining example, and with many other examples still bleeding in Central and South America, Africa, and in Southeast Asia." She mentioned the financing of death squads in Columbia to keep one brand of soft drink affordable in the U.S., as well as CIA and military actions to support those leaders who will guarantee cheap labour and cheap mining products -- all at local expense.
The average American wants to believe that their country would, ideally, represent freedom, opportunity and fairness, every day and in every corner of the world -- helping people, opposing brutal regimes and working toward world health, justice and democracy everywhere, she said.
That same American would feel ill to hear anyone say that America uses its military and intelligence forces, its huge financial power, to extract from weaker countries what is needed for a good U.S. lifestyle -- or that America would support any brutal regime that will provide it with needed materials cheaply, keeping competing political systems out of the region -- or that it would finance the massacre of peasants and workers, the torture of journalists and clerics, and the rape of nature itself to provide Americans with today's pleasant lifestyle.
True or not, that is the vision of America that many of the world's people carry in their angry hearts, Haddock noted.
"They see their precious children and land being sacrificed for our luxury," she said. "They see our U.S.-made helicopters and jets and guns and rockets suppressing and killing them. Naturally, they celebrate when we are made to suffer."
There is a profound difference in perceptions. Americans are stunned at the idea that they are not universally loved. They forget the support the U.S. gave to the brutal regime of the Shah of Iran, to help protect the supply of oil to the U.S. -- the same Shah whose brutality led to the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the camp of violent Islamic fundamentalists from which Bin Laden arose -- a group that is no more Islamic in its practices than America's radical right is Christian in theirs, says Haddock.
"Both radical fringes are beating the war drums and accusing everyone who is not exactly like them of causing last week's horror," she said. "George Bush has declared war on evil. That is a holy war as chilling as the Taliban's call for war on evil."
Haddock said Americans should not rally around President Bush while he tries to "disguise his failure" of the most serious breach of internal security in the nation's history "in calls for war."
She labels the terrorists cowards, not martyrs, and challenges their motives.
"We have the same great God, the same Allah," she tells those terrorists, "and he shakes his head in sad disbelief at your spiritual immaturity."
As Dr. Luther King taught, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. . . Through violence you may murder the hater but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate . . . adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."
"America is, despite all, the best hope for the world," Haddock ultimately said.