20th September, 2001

I suppose the 11th September will stay in our minds forever, and in years to come we'll all remember where we were when last weeks horror too place in America. Just as we who lived through the sixties remember where we were when President Kennedy was shot.

I never in my life remember a day like last Friday. I've never seen such a complete shutdown in Ireland in my life. My wife and I usually go out on Friday night, but we decided to stay at home instead and watch the 'Late Late Show'! The Clifford Brothers, who lost their sister and little niece, were a shining example of what the word 'Christian' means. They talked of love and celebrating their sisters life. The whole country was impressed by their approach to the tragic events which took place just three days before. Another guest of the show knew a lot of the Irish American firemen who died, and then he read out the names Murphy, Sullivan, Mahony, etc... and it made sad listening. Men who gave their lives for the highest goal, to save others. This was a good Late Late Show, until ...

... Pat brought on a panel of guests, including Tim Pat Coogan, Joe O'Connor and another couple to discuss US foreign policy. Then I felt ashamed, I believe even Pat Kenny felt uncomfortable talking about Hiroshima, Vietnam, the Contra's, American support for Israel. Was this the time to have a debate on the cause of the slaughter of the innocents?

During the past week I've heard people say, "It was terrible to watch that tragedy on TV last week, and the loss of life, but American foreign policy, etc..." Bullshit!! This was mass murder of innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives. Taking the kids to school, dropping their wives off to work, working to pay the mortgage ... doing what we all do. These people were not soldiers, they were nobody's enemy, and America should not be blamed for contributing to their deaths. Do anybody know what the hijackers stand for? Are we the infidels, the enemy? Is it going back to the crusades of the Christians against the Moors? The people of Afghanistan are starving whilst a shawdowy figure, worth 500,000,000, hides in a mountain cave plotting the downfall of our way of life.

Most of us have good friends, but sometimes our friends do something we might not agree with and we tend to be a little cool towards them. But friendship runs deep. America has been good to us, and we to America. They took us in when we had famine, they gave us work, and we built their bridges, railways and skyscrapers. Forty million Americans claim Irish blood in their veins. Every summer thousands of our children go to America on holidays!! We know, and the American government knows, that they go to work, make a few pounds to put them through college, or just to experience an international culture, and arrive home in September without the price of a bag of chips in their pocket!!

I've spoken to quite a few Americans through the internet and I must say I've encountered no hatred, only sorrow and hurt that people could hate them so much as to crash passenger planes into financial centres. No American I've spoken to has mentioned revenge, or wish to bomb men, women and children in another country. They've said, "We've been through it, we don't want other families to go through something similar". Eventually they will demand justice for the victims and their families.

On tonight's news we're told that the Taliban leaders will declare holy war on the West (which includes us!) should America come looking for Osama bin Laden. A bunch of mad clerics running a country which is going through terrible famine, where girls are not allowed education, where women are forbidden to work, where radio and TV is forbidden. All sport is banned, where people practising Christianity are threatened with hanging, where teenage boys are primed as suicide bombers, with the promise of being met at the gates of heaven by 16 virgins an God to welcome them home.

Last week America, the next time? The Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Vatican? It's true what they say, it's an attack on our way of life that most of us are happy with, and have no wish to change.

Bye for now,
Michael O'Hanlon.

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