Apr. 2002 - Those who understand Bin Laden
This thread is for discussing Massimo Pigliucci's Rationally Speaking
article entitled Those who understand Bin Laden.
N. 23, April 2002
Those who understand Bin Laden
Warning: this article is not an exaltation of terrorism or a defense of Bin Laden. But the very fact that I have to start with this disclaimer is a sad commentary on the state of freedom of opinion and speech in contemporary US. What I'd like to talk about here is what my compatriot Umberto Eco recently referred to as "the subtle art of making distinctions," an art that seems foreign to much of the post-9/11 discussion or to the thought processes of many of our leaders.
Many commentators initially said that 9/11 brought about a dramatic shift in the American psyche, and that this nation will never be the same after that terrible day. Perhaps, but the change may be more superficial than we thought. A few months after the tragedy, we have a Georgia company selling commemorative medallions made with steel from the World Trade Center, and some families of 9/11 victims marching and suing to seek millions of extra dollars despite the large amount of governmental and private help that was proffered in record time. Bombing or no bombing, some Americans are still more attached to the mighty dollar than to elementary standards of human decency.
Our government doesn't seem to fare much better at the helm of a war-prone president, son of a war-prone president. The US government, on the one hand, insists in calling this a "war" against terrorism (even though, technically, only Congress can declare war