9-11 and its dark age

Brian Jones
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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.


Different era

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Instead of providing rigorous and sophisticated analysis, the left has largely resorted to tiresome and outdated anti-American rhetoric.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



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.

Odds are…

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 bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Newfoundlander, Al-Qaida, Taliban Hamas The Telegram

Geographic location: U.S., Nicaragua, Roman Rome

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Recent comments

    September 09, 2011 - 21:32

    Once again Jonesy, you speak for the majority, and majority rules!! The truth indeed, sometimes hurts!!! Everything did change that day!!!!! And only the vocal minority, will try to disagree with the VAST numbers of the silent majority, who totally agree with your view point. How someone can come to the conclusion, that your article is racist, is indicitive of someone whose mind is already made up,before he/she even reads your rant!!

  • scottie buddy
    September 09, 2011 - 20:27

    It's not the terrorist attacks (overt jihad) that we have to worry about. It's the covert or "stealth" jihad that's a far greater threat. The inroads of Islam and it's accompanying jihad, into the west in the past ten years has been unprecedented. This is a culture incompatible with western democratic values as proven every time they push for more accomodations. Brian is on the right side of this issue and has his faculty of critical inquiry in tact.

  • Jeremy
    September 09, 2011 - 16:56

    Either way, Al Queda left America a wimpering, snivelling shadow of itself. Bin Laden knew its weaknesses and played Bush and co. like the war-mongering fools they are.

  • Mister Thud
    September 09, 2011 - 10:54

    So Gwyn Dyer is wrong to suggest that the attacks were merely another event in history with a litany of motives and reasons (that must never be examined by true patriots) and we should not be living under the perpetual fear of Islamic terrorist attacks because... and this is your argument: people still talk about it. The only difference is that the terror was close to home this time and that innocent Americans were killed. For many people in the world (granted, they’re not American, white, and might even be Muslim) the daily fear and terror (and hunger and poverty) are very real, even if they are not on the lips of the chattering classes.

  • Chantal
    September 09, 2011 - 08:23

    The terrorists in that “brutal civil war” in Nicaragua were the Contras, not the governing (and elected) Sandinistas. And yes, the Contras did resort to blowing up busses and health care clinics, schools, farms, houses; kidnapping torturing and murdering thousands of civilians; raping women, as well as carrying out targeted assassinations. You might remember the Regan Administration actively training, arming and funding this terrorist group. You might also remember the Americans mining the harbours, for which they were taken to task by the International Court of Justice. (Curiously enough the Nicaraguan Government didn’t carry out bombing raids on American cities, and then invade the United States to replace its government with a Sandinista–approved one.) Then again, as you are more sophisticated than those "tiresome" anti-Americans, Chomsky, Dyer, and Moore, I’m sure this was just a type-o.

  • Abdul Saieed
    September 09, 2011 - 07:46

    Yes, nothing changes – as far as Jones’ thinly veiled racist attacks go… Viz. All terrorist on 9-11 were Muslim, therefore, all Muslims are defacto suspects. Would he care, or be brave enough to apply this reasoning to other groups? And ten years later it is still considered “anti-American rhetoric” to consider that the attacks might not have happened in a vacuum and that some people look at American military and economic involvement in their countries with some suspicion. To the right wing, it is treason to suggest that much of the oppression and the repressive regimes in these countries are actively supported by the United States to gain access to the oil reserves. Seemingly, Jones’ idea of “rigorous and sophisticated analysis” is that “legitimate” discussion must be confined to “Islamist, Islamism, Islamic,” but no further.