My daughter watched a plane fly into a twin tower on 9/11 from her apartment roof in New York. I heard the bombing of the Kenyan embassy and ten minutes later from the garden of my nearby hotel pieces of eyeglasses, jangling key chains and fabric fell out of the sky at my feet. Both of us later saw horrible pain and destruction.
“August seventh” was as big to Kenya as nine-eleven was to America. The relative number of people killed and maimed, the heroism of rescuers, the damage to politics, economy and society – it was all comparable. Even the perpetrators’ beliefs, religion and motivations for suicide were the same. What was different?
People wrongly say that if Kenya had possessed the wealth, intel and might of America that it would have invaded Iraq just like America did. People who say that are Americans hiding behind their deepest flaws. Perhaps they are ashamed of those flaws. Perhaps they are brainwashed. They have no idea what they’re talking about.
America’s potential to fail catastrophically is squared on an overconfidence in things poorly constructed to their advantage.
The Kenyans who suffered from the bombing continued to suffer much more egregiously and for a much longer time than the Americans did. Not only was it harder for Kenya to recover than America, but America started insisting that Kenya fight when it didn’t want to.
Finally under Obama the Kenyan Army – the first real army the country ever had – was finished then goaded into invading neighboring Somali because America feared terrorists there threatened New York six thousand miles away.
Bowing to America’s will Kenya suffered a series of horrible terrorist attacks that when summed up makes their relative suffering far in excess of America’s.
I often wonder what today would be like if somehow Kenya had resisted the militarization thrust on it by America and became instead another Costa Rica. It could have happened. It was a failing of Kenyan leaders with American starlight in their visions.
Why in an ideal world would Kenya turn the other cheek? In contrast to an obsessed America whose response was bent on destruction and vindication?
Dreamers vs Realists. Simpletons vs Intellects.
The American culture over my life time became so over confident that dreams replaced visions, slapstick replaced sarcasm, bullying replaced generosity.
We failed to examine our many flaws. We became apologists for privilege rather than ministers of bounty. In a word, greed, but not just for wealth.
The moment American culture believed there was nothing better – that there was no better music, art or philosophy than America’s – was the moment we disengaged from the rest of the universe and started getting smaller and smaller and less and less diverse.
Like a beautiful galaxy of grand stars collapsing into black holes, America has become the “Donald Trump base.”
Think about that. We’re all responsible for that.
Such dramatic changes as we’ve experienced in just the last few years pries open the slammed doors of even the most determined deniers. The American culture couldn’t but realize it was shrinking in value.
So it did what historically every failed society does before collapsing: it begins reducing everything so completing that shame is squeezed away, culpability is squeezed out, until finally even truth gets squeezed out.
Simultaneously, everything must either be right or wrong. Nothing is in between. Compromise in thought like compromise in politics flakes away like bark from an old, dying tree.
There were no fewer wonders in music, art or philosophy in Kenya than in American on their respective 9-11’s. Kenya exceeded America and exceeds it even today in mastery of languages, the foundations for all thought.
But Americans grew to believe with intractable certainty that nothing was better than them. Burdened with such a belief all the terrors striking us now are neither surprising or illogical. I saw it coming on August seventh when America’s fleeting interest in Kenya’s disaster was portrayed as an American threat rather than a Kenyan tragedy.
I knew it was coming on 9/11 when America was blind-sided not just by the explosions of the Twin Towers but by the trap of false remedies that the terrorists themselves had engineered we pursue.
So now it’s here. America is killing itself.
Remember carefully the 9-11’s. There was more than one.