The Non-Lessons of Nine-Eleven


What Lessons Did We Learn?

The Premise
It’s a simple thought. In fact, it’s a very simple thought. I’ll tell you what it is. Just give me twenty…thirty seconds.
The thing is, when I launched this blog some two weeks ago, I promised to my readers and friends, and also to myself, that I shall write about heartfelt, honest feelings; I said I’d write about life and love — in a soft, toned-down way. I did it as best as I could; honestly, I didn’t worry how many people read my posts, or whether or not my simple messages reached the five senses of the people higher up: those who could make a difference. Out of their five senses, I knew I could never pierce their remarkably thick skin; so I didn’t even try it.
But the pleasant surprise was that more than twelve hundred people read my blog in just over two weeks — something that never happened to me in my relatively new life of an activist writer. I was gratified to know that a large number of people still did care: very likely, they cared about the transparency and real-life, raw emotions I’m trying to pass on to them.
They agreed that it was indeed a matter of the heart.
I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your interest in what I have to say. With your support, I hope to continue saying it.
So, now, what is that simple thought? What does it have to do with the present topic?
I posted a question on my Facebook page two days ago. It was this: “Are we more educated, informed and mature — can we now save more lives and human dignity?”
It was not a rhetorical question. It was not an academic question. It was not a question about any particular country either — U.S. or India, the two countries I know. I asked that question taking into account the evolution of human race, if we can measure it in such a short time, since the terrorist attacks and their aftermath global un-democracy, violence and war.
I have actually thought about it quite a bit. But I wanted to know from my friends who I thought would want to address it too. Some of the responses I got were as follows:
(1) “If “we” means Americans, the answer is a flat and emphatic NO..”
(2) “How come we need to be ‘more educated, informed and mature’ to save more life?”
(3) “”More”… relative adj. “More” than what/who/when??? As to whether we can now save more lives and dignity? I believe we can. Whether we do or not is another question entirely.”
Okay. Fair enough. People have different ways to express themselves, and sometimes without knowing it, people take a superficially different point of view when they’re actually in agreement with each other (believe me!). Sometimes I feel that through my writing, I’m raising debates on one hand (and making people uneasy and uncomfortable that way…sorry about that); and on the other hand, I’m playing the role of a moderator of the debate so as not to let it out of our hands. After all, if we can’t agree on things we so deeply care about, even within our own circle of friends, then how in the world are we going to impress them upon the others who do not know us and have every right to pay no attention?
Cliches and Cacophony
The terrorist attacks of September 11 killed 3,000 people, and changed our lives forever — yes, that’s a cliche. Don’t tell me I’m not being respectful to the innocent lives lost on that day; if you do, adios amigos, I’ll see you next time. (By the way, I just found out that the labor unions I work with lost 17 of their members: half of them doing construction and electrical work that morning on the 105th floor of the North Tower).
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 gave global war mongerers great ammunition to pursue their global fascist agenda — yes Das Capital’ists, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, we’ve heard you.
There are many real-life stories that media did not tell us — stories of how thousands of ordinary, innocent people fell victims of a repressive regime, and either perished in jail or got deported. — See, this is somewhat less known, but not that completely unknown now, thanks to the 24/7 hard work of hundreds of progressive organizations, lawyers and grassroots activists. And small, alternative media deserve credit too.
Muslims, Arabs and South Asians (including Sikhs) as well as other poor immigrants were target of heinous hate crimes, and some of them were brutally assaulted; a few of them actually died. — In case those big-name diversity, rights and justice groups did not tell you about it before, yours truly did it already, a number of times over. Reading his blog for the first time today? Welcome. Just flip through some recent posts.
So, what is new? What is NOT news yet?
Talk to Your Heart
Again, because I promised my blog this time around would be simple, soft and succint, I don’t mean to make it a long-winded, complex, lawyer’s argument, even though I put it out for my jury to release their verdict on it (FYI, as of today, only my Facebook itself has 2800+ friends, and that number doesn’t even include my six cousins and three brothers in-law).
So, simply put one more time, “Are we more educated, informed and mature — can we now save more lives and human dignity?”
What do you think?
Q. Who provided the necessary education since 9/11 that taught us how to be tolerant and respectful to all men, women, transgenders, religions, atheists, agnostics, Sikhs, Muslims, Africans, Jews and Latino immigrants (especially those who still “look like a terrorist” even after they were forced by their “American” employer to shave off their beard)?
A. Like…nobody?
Q. Who provided the necessary information after-the-fact that if you built very tall, arrogant towers at the end of an island, and that too, without any common-sense safeguards to prevent them from airborne terrorist attacks, it’s likely that terrorists would take advantage of that illiteracy and egotism of the people in power, and try their best to destroy them? (After all, just like pickpockets and muggers, terrorists are constantly watching out for easy preys while the easy preys are not watching out for them?)
A. Like…nobody?
Q. Who gave us and our children the maturity lessons that would help us and our children to be a little more mature than believe that what is norm and acceptable in a high-school brawl situation does not really apply to global civilization, and that it’s neither norm nor acceptable to use phony stories and hearsays (like, Judith Miller’s WMD stories published in mighty New York Times) to attack a foreign country, kill thousands of innocent men, women and children, and destroy a five-thousand-year-old civilization?
A. Like…nobody?
Q. Human dignity…now that’s a complex question. Some of my Facebook friends might ask: “How come we need to be ‘more educated, informed and mature’ to preserve human dignity?”
Follow-up Q. In fact, what is human dignity?
We’ll save that question for the next post. Please consider the other simple clauses of this rather simple non-lawyer’s argument, and deliver your valued judgement. I wouldn’t mind a severe sentence…punishment…like…long-term imprisonment…in your thoughts. All my life, I’m looking for those flung-open, skylark-sung prison camps.
Didn’t I say it was a matter of the heart?
Sincerely Writing,
Brooklyn, New York
Yours Truly


  1. Partha, your blogs have touched me SO deeply. I knew that others besides the people in the towers had been hurt or killed, but I didn’t realize the extent of the harm that was done to other innocent Americans. In answer to your question, I am afraid that most of the American people didn’t come away from the 9/11 experience any wiser, smarter, kinder, or more loving. We can see examples of this just from the recent Republican debate where people actually applauded when the commentator told about how many people had been executed in the state of Texas while Rick Perry has been governor. I wish it weren’t so.

    • Hi Neva, Thanks for your kind comments. I agree completely, and much more. Isn’t it time we did our part of this essential social education and build broad coalition of like-minded people so that we can share our analysis based on real experience and insight? Without that activism, where is our hope for ourselves or our children? I hope we can continue this critically important conversation. If you’re interested, subscribe to my blog so that all my posts can come to you right away. Thanks again.

  2. Hello there, Partha. It is difficult for me to put into words my own personal feelings about 9/11 because I’m not sure of what I believe at this point in my life. While I once pooh-poohed those who put forth that it was a false flag attack I now find that I am willing to consider their opinions as valid, perhaps even worthy of some consideration, and that frightens me even more than I imagined it would because that would mean that I should be afraid of my own government, but then, of course I am afraid of my own government because I am too well informed, and once one becomes too well informed there can be no turning back, no more innocence, and certainly no more head in the sand moments. No siree, you are a confirmed nihilist then, bub, and who wants to admit to being a nihilist, especially now when most public and private space is over flowing with them. Where is the originality in that, after all?
    I am always hoping for something better, always searching for that something better, because the answer to your question(s) should be so much better, so much more humane, than what has been written so far regarding this post 9/11 America. We must work to correct the egregious recent past, and to put right this very bloody stain on our America. This should not be our legacy. I refuse to allow it to be mine, just as you are refusing to allow it to be yours.
    Keep the faith, my friend, and please continue to write on.

    • Lori, Your comment gives me hope that all’s not lost yet. Yes, even though there is every reason to be afraid of our own government (I’ll tell you more real, scary stories in the next few blogs), we just cannot afford to do it; otherwise, they’ll take advantage of our fear and put the light out of us more quickly. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that our economic and political system is democratic and transparent today, simply because it is not. It used to be more democratic and more transparent before when people all over the world looked up to America — not for its military might, but because of its exemplary global leadership. Make a long story short, if we don’t fight back, we are doomed, and our children’s future is doomed.
      As far as I am concerned, I don’t have money or political connection to make a difference at the top of the pyramid; therefore, with the little education and intellectual power I have, I’m trying to make a difference at the bottom of the pyramid, where I belong. But there will be a time in this country very soon when intellect will be in grave danger, and people who can think and make others think will be targets of hate and repression. Before it happens, let me archive some of my innermost feelings this way. You’re welcome to join me on this spiritual and moral crusade.


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