August 29, 2002


September 11

written by
Lynn Trenning

























For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

aired on WFAE

I feel overwhelmed by the international community’s contempt toward my country. What I have become most aware of this past year is the depth and strength of the international community’s contempt for America. As we reach the anniversary of our national horror, talk about the United States attacking Iraq has provided the catalyst for an outpouring of anti-American sentiment. It is impossible that this dislike, which apparently runs true and deep, is brand new. It is very possible that we’ve been blissfully immune to it, as we are a people that pays selective attention to world affairs.

In the global arena, the United States is a benevolent dictator. We give money to everyone for everything, and in return we expect cooperation, without too many questions asked. Things aren’t working that way right now. The United States isn’t used to asking for help. But because we were attacked by Saudi Arabians whose leader lives Afghanistan, we were forced to ask for cooperation from a coalition of countries that have dubious loyalty to our cause. Likewise, our long time enemy Saddam Hussein is providing the same potential nuclear and chemical weapons threat he always has. If we are to influence a change of regime in Iraq, we must do so from a geographically powerful position. Again, cooperation for that potential battle is not forthcoming.

In Philadelphia recently a restaurateur used an image of the king of Thailand in an advertisement. The response from Thai people was virulent. One emailer wrote, “Hope your country encounter the same disaster like September 11 last year. I’ll very appreciate and enjoy with Americans death.” Here’s another, “I felt sad for your ppl they died at WTC, now I think Bin Laden has done the right thing.”

In the same issue of Harper’s, writer Nicholas Fraser dissects the enormous antipathy toward America currently being expressed on the streets of Europe. By his determination, the people of Greece and France are most hostile to the U.S., followed closely by Italians. He found Poland and Ireland to stand alone in their loyalty to us.

The reasons for this dislike are abundant. We are rich, we are arrogant, we are culturally insensitive, we expect other countries to fall in lock step behind our decisions. Some of these accusations are true and some aren’t. It’s my guess that what people dislike are the policies of our government, not the sentiments of our people, but of course in a democracy, we must claim responsibility for those in charge.

What seems apparent is that America’s vast economic influence has bred contempt. While we see ourselves as spreading the gospel of democracy, I see plenty of evidence that being Americanized is far from what millions of non-Americans want.

I believe the actual tragedy of September 11th belongs to the families of those killed in the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania, in the WTC, and to those in America’s military, who are risking their lives every day in far away lands. The unfolding tragedy may be the collapse of our international relationships, and the economic consequences that follow. Meanwhile, like Voltaire’s Candide, I have a deep desire to tend to my own garden. It seems to be the place where I have the most influence.

~ Lynn Trenning

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