Gwynne Dyer must be mightily miffed.The London-based Newfoundlander, commentator, filmmaker and author has spent the last 10 years arguing that the threat of terrorism to the West is overblown and the attacks of 9-11 - although horrific and tragic - are widely exaggerated in their importance.Dyer's refrain has been as predictable as patties in a pasture: the world did not, in fact, change on 9-11, and the much-vaunted "clash of civilizations" is a myth.
Dyer probably finds this week's headlines irksome. It's been 10 years since "nothing changed," but a lot of people apparently feel compelled to talk about it.
Most stories have been of the "remember when" variety, as people recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard about, or saw, the 9-11 attacks.
But let's not overlook 9-12. If memory serves, the sun had barely risen on Sept. 12, 2001, when comments and accusations started flying that the U.S. had it coming, had reaped what it had sown, had brought it on itself, etc.
In a throwback to 1960s illogic, some people were of the opinion that if Uncle Sam insisted on walking around in a miniskirt, he shouldn't be surprised if he is raped and ravished.
Dyer is right in one respect: 9-11 changed almost nothing among leftists.
Instead of providing rigorous and sophisticated analysis, the left has largely resorted to tiresome and outdated anti-American rhetoric.
People such as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore come to mind. They and Dyer, among others, are stuck in a 1980s mindset, in which U.S. imperialism explains everything.
They should get one thing clear. The Latin American peasant revolts of 30 years ago have nothing in common with al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hamas and the rest of the 21st-century crazies. Even at the height of the brutal civil war in Nicaragua, the Sandinistas did not resort to blowing up buses.
They should get another thing clear: "Islam" is not a dirty world. Its use does not immediately signify the user is racist or, even worse, right-wing. It is - or rather, should be - perfectly acceptable and legitimate to use terms such as Islamist, Islamism, Islamic, etc., when talking politics or discussing current events.
After all, we can all agree - with the exception of conspiracy theorists - that it wasn't talking-in-tongues evangelicals or loony Lutherans who hijacked jets on 9-11.
No end in sight
Dyer's commentaries over the past decade make me imagine him as a Roman citizen during the fall of the empire.
Sitting high on a hill and watching the sacking of Rome, Dyer's friend asks, "Do you think this changes anything?"
"Nah," says Dyer.
"I dunno," his friend says. "I sense dark days ahead."
On Monday, when the 10th anniversary of 9-11 will be over and done with, we can ponder the next noteworthy anniversary. Sept. 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since 9-11. Trying hard not to be influenced by or mired in our currently violent world, it is still difficult to imagine that a decade from now the murderous attacks by Islamic terrorists/militants/fundamentalists/ ideologues will have ceased. There is no reason to expect they will stop.
Of course, some people will take comfort in Dyer's favourite assertion, that a person in the West is more likely to be killed by lightning than by a terrorist attack. The odds are astronomical, but even so, during a thunderstorm even Dyer must take the precaution of not standing underneath a tree. After all, miniscule statistics are no comfort if you're one of them.
Nothing changed, indeed. Everything changed. Here's one: we now live in a world where elementary schoolchildren know what suicide bombers are.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.