Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2003 2:43 pm 
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Location: California/NYC
It is fascinating and chilling to view the faces of two of the hijackers on Monday evening taking out cash from an ATM in Portland, Maine, the young, lean, angular, Arab face of al-Umari, expectant, grimacing, then grinning; group leader Mohammad Atta stolid in the background (this from the NYTimes).

As the US seeks to hush the Arab World's most outspoken TV station, al-Jazeera in Qatar, and to cut out a two minute interview with the leader of the Taliban on the Voice of America, the government tells us that there will be deception and confusion from their end, and it becomes clear that wartime US censorship is on again as during the Gulf War days. How much of what follows will be a deception and a sham?

Someone here compared the case against bin Laden (see The Independent, Oct. 4) to the evidence against Nixon after Watergate: it leads close to him, but does not implicate him. He is clearly unsavory from our point of view, but unlike Saddam Hussein's, his islamicism is authentic in its way, and he is seen as a leader by many in the Arab World.

Point 63 of the Official Document: "Osama bin Laden remains in charge, and the mastermind, of al-Qa'ida. In al-Qa'ida, an operation on the scale of the September attacks would have been approved by Osama bin Laden himself." Would have. This is not evidence valid in a court of law.

But much remains still unknown about the movements of the hijackers, as the NYTimes story with the ATM machine photos points out. And much that is known, it is now made clear, is being kept from us—even what they ordered at a fast food restaurant.

The NYTimes continues to push the theme of sorrow for those lost in New York and for their families. The stories of victims give one the same sense of wrong as the dozens of obits every week in the gay papers of San Francisco in the Eighties, stories of men with AIDS cut off in their prime; in this case, there are stories of women too, and of lots of young children left behind. But the constant embellishment of these stories in the media are now propaganda, because they become a way of whipping up public support for a military adventure whose connection with the terrorists and their destruction is at best indirect.

The war prospects remain the same: the excessive buildup of material and personnel whose presence in the area costs taxpayers billions daily, the impossible terrain, the ravaged country, the maimed children, the starving masses, the unsavory allies who are to be foot soldiers so Americans and Brits don't have to die. Things remain the same or worse in Israel and the occupied Palestinian lands. The only progress since 1967 is that in the west the word "Palestinian" is understood and frequently used. Golda Meir's "there is no Palestinian people" is forgotten. The gap between what the Arab masses think and what their governments promote remains as large as ever: the governments may want to crush jihad groups, the people may cheer them. A man was interviewed on the radio yesterday who wrote a book The Jihad and the Mac, about a global conflict between the haves and the have-nots, framed in these terms; however, al-Qa'ida's members use computers and cell phones and faxes like the rest of us.

I hope to get back to work today. Yesterday was taken up with meetings and openings. I ate at the good new Indian restaurant again. It's splendid.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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