After yesterday, more diary extracts. Well, diary and e-mail. This time from 2001, just over a week after the Al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Monday 17th September 2001
I got an e-mail from someone I know, a Londoner with American parents:
Thankfully all my friends and family are accounted for but it took until late on Friday/ early hours of Saturday morning to get the OK from everyone I know and care about in New York and Washington.
My Aunt is a medic and has been working flat-out to cope with the casualties and fatalities that arrive at the medical centres/ hospitals around New York. She will need post traumatic stress counselling, as will all the rescue workers and medical staff.
I did hope that the events of last week would prompt my sisters who haven’t been speaking to one another for the past 15 months to make their peace – they haven’t.
It’s difficult to comprehend what effect this must have on Americans. They have never had foreigners attack them on their own soil nor been in many wars whereas, in Britain, we have been at constant war somewhere since at least 1939 and any of us could have had our legs blown off in the last 30 years by an IRA wastebin bomb while doing our shopping.
I think they’re still a bit on another planet. When a few hundred US body bags have come back from Afghanistan, they’re liable to turn insular again. It’s a sad reflection on my superficiality but the thought did flit through my mind “Well, this may help the Irish problem in the medium term because the Americans may be less prone to see the IRA as jolly little green freedom fighters.”
Tuesday 18th September 2001
A British Moslem friend of mine, who has worked in the US, spoke to her former boss in Washington this afternoon. She said he sounded angry and told her there was real anger in the US following the attacks on New York and Washington last week. Another friend of hers – a Moslem Brit in the US – said it was dangerous for her to return to the US because Moslems were being attacked. Such is American ignorance that a Sikh was killed in a racial attack.
I watched the David Letterman TV show, transmitted from New York. He gave a ten-minute opening monologue about the World Trade Center bombing, then interviewed US TV newsman Dan Rather who was there as The Man Who Knows The Real Situation.
The perspective given was that the Baddies are mad, insane and neither cause-and-effect nor logic enter into it. There is no point trying to understand their motive because there is none. They are just Pure Evil with no cause except that the Baddies see the Americans have more money and a better life than they do, so the only trigger is Envy.
Letterman asked Rather – apparently seriously – why something could not have been done in retribution last Saturday (the New York attack was on Tuesday).
When the Independent newspaper wrote a column saying to the Americans “Welcome to the real world” they got it wrong.
The Yanks are still living on another planet.