Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 years after 9/11

Time does fly indeed. Can you believe it’s been 7 years since the world stood still? The day most of us across the globe were solidly behind America in their most trying time since Vietnam. That Tuesday morning in September, terrorism took a new dimension and a powerful group called Al-Qaeda was firmly in its driving seat. The impact was costly. Over 3,000 american souls were gone, courtesy of daredevil terrorists who brought an innovative plan to disastrous fruition.They didn’t need bombs,rocket launchers,AK-47s or sophisticated arsenal. In fact their weapons were already provided for them, in the form of american commercial jets.I remember first hearing the tragic news at a friend’s small cybercafé. He was browsing randomly when he stumbled across the ‘breaking news’ on reports stated that a plane had ‘accidentally’ hit the World Trade Centre in New York. It wasn’t till the 2nd airline crashed into the same building that the world suddenly realised it had all being cleverly orchestrated.
As I had a brother living in the Big Apple, my family had tried unsuccessfully,and desperately,to reach him. We kept on dialing the States but we just couldn’t get through. Our main worry was due to the fact that he worked in downtown New York and the jets had struck just past 9 a.m that weekday morning,a time when most workers would have been at work. We panicked, and at the same time, watched the horror on CNN.I doubt i would ever forget the shocking images of people jumping from 40 stories up,in a desperate attempt to preserve their existence.The screaming,the tears,the smoke,the mayhem,the brave firemen,a heroic mayor called Rudy Giuliani(who i now strongly dislike,by the way) etc.
Fortunately,we finally got through to my sibling several terrifying hours later and were ecstatic to hear he and his family were all fine, safe & sound.That Tuesday, the Osama Bin Laden-led Al Qaeda had brought the world’s sole superpower to its knees. And the U.S was humbled. It’s accurate to say that since that infamous day, the world (and the States) has never been the same.Actually,it may never be. President Bush had to show executive toughness and send a message to terrorist cells across the planet, especially to Al-Qaeda,easily the most powerful of them all. The organization being controlled & inspired by a long bearded, rich Saudi Arabian & ex- U.S ally from remote caves in Afghanistan.
George W. Bush ordered an invasion of the asian country using state-of –the-art military equipment to pound the Taliban-controlled region. Sadly for Bush, it’s been 7 years since the tragedy and America’s full scale reprisal,but the most wanted man on Earth is still alive and free. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the main reason behind the delay in catching the US’s no.1 enemy has been. That reason was Iraq, a country led at the time by Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of George Bush Snr.Maybe it was the oil, or maybe President Bush Jnr needed to help Daddy finish the Iraqi dictator once and for all. Irrespective of the motive, it distracted America from their main target and so, Bin Laden & his lieutenants continued/continue to co-ordinate activities from his hide-out in the dangerous regions of Afghanistan.Today,Al Qaeda is still a force with several cells and splinter groups wrecking havoc in various locations across the globe(however, excluding the US).
As Presidential candidates Obama & McCain stand together, with partisanship put aside, at Ground Zero(the place where the Twin Towers once stood)today, two things are clear. First of all, one of them would be the next Commander-In-Chief come January.Secondly, that person has to do his best to complete the job their Texan predecessor sadly couldn’t finish.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Enough Of This Mental Slavery

As I write this, I remember a song by Jamaica’s biggest musical export, the legendary Bob Marley. One of the reggae prodigy’s best known tracks was the deeply inspiring composition ‘Redemption Song’.A line from this classic went thus: ‘’Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.’’ So, how’s this relevant?, you may wonder.Well,I’ll tell you how.
I’m sure most of you would easily agree that the current US presidential race has kept millions across the globe glued with passionate interest. We have seen history unfold in our eyes, as an African-American and a strong woman fiercely battled it out for the nomination of a major American party. On the republican side, we have witnessed the first ever female VP nominee ever to emerge.
Now, I must admit that I was one of many who was initially apprehensive about Senator Obama’s chances in getting this far. And it had a lot to do with his colour.However, my naïve & somewhat primitive views changed after his remarkable victory in the first democratic primary in Iowa back in January.Guys,the state of Iowa’s population is over 95% white. In that race, he won clearly and left the previously ‘favoured’ candidate, a stunned Senator Hillary Clinton, in 3rd place. Well, his unexpected success there got me interested in the 47-yr old man from Illinois. I started reading more about him, his career, his beliefs, his remarkable background etc.And so I became hooked. As time passed, the skilled charismatic orator continued to rack up more victories as the primaries continued, to the disbelief of many still entrenched in cynical times of the past (His 10 consecutive victories during the electoral calendar were a significant highlight of his applaud-worthy progress earlier in the year).So, despite Senator Osama’s history making nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, many cynics still believe the chap can’t win. On what basis? Because he’s black and blacks have never ruled? Isn’t there a first time for everything? After all, wasn’t Obama the 1st African-american to be nominated for President by a major political party? By the way, he needed and received the votes & support from millions white people to get there.It’s true that there are those americans who would never(ever) vote for him primarily because of his colour.But there aren’t many of such people still affiliated to those racist(& pathetic) philosophies of their forefathers. And if one delves deeper, you’ll see that they tend to be members of the other political party(an association with a 93% white membership, by the way).Like I have told a few friends, Barack Obama getting the nomination was evidence of the changing times & mindset of America. Black people alone didn’t give him the ticket. As I mentioned, it was courtesy of millions of white folks. So why are some of the cynics in our midst still basing their argument on the Caucasian Americans who have clearly acted otherwise, by voting for Barack in dozens of American states this year?
Now, only God knows who would be elected to this most exalted of public offices later in the year. And it may not be Barack Obama.However, that may be due to american voters’ views & priorities vis a vis the way they perceive the candidates on various issues such as their take on the economy, health care,trust,foreign policy and so on. It could even be based on the votes of the ‘currently undecided’/independents out there. For me,& based on the occurrences I’ve observed in the exciting US political race this year, Mr Obama stands as much of a chance at victory as Senator John McCain, come November 4th.And to those who say colour would still be his downfall, I recommend you listen to Mr Marley’s Redemption Song once more.
Remember,you are as limited as your dream.