Operation Enduring Freedom: America's Globalized Order By Teresa Williams
September 28, 2001
The United States is currently engaged in initiating a war against terrorism and is seeking an alliance with countries
it deems as loyal to this cause. In retaliation for the recent bombings on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which
resulted in thousands killed and missing, the Bush Administration is gearing up to launch attacks on Afghanistan and on
any countries that 'harbor' terrorists or condone terrorism - without yet having tangible proof of which countries are
the culprits in these attacks. We prepare ourselves for another war scenario constructed by the United States which
promises to be a long one and we have been asked to be patient and hard-working as Americans while this war coined
"Operation Enduring Freedom (Operation Infinite Justice was perceived as being too insulting to Muslims as Allah is the
only one capable of this pursuit) plays itself out.
As Operation Enduring Freedom sets out to protect the world against global terrorism, American civil liberties and civil
rights are in question here at home. As Congress debates the issues of wire-tapping, email surveillance, sweeping
arrests and questioning of suspected terrorists, random entry and seizure of property. Numerous people of Arab descent
and/or of Islamic persuasion are being arrested and detained with no access to a lawyer or legal counsel and in many
cases being detained with no contact with their family or friends. People who appear 'suspect' or who resemble Arabs are
being attacked, killed and persecuted by American citizens in a nationwide rampage of racial profiling against anyone
who might resemble a 'terrorist'. The national media has fomented this fear and prejudice and has fanned the emotional
flames of racism and retaliation around the world.
As our nation reels from these horrific attacks in New York and Washington and seeks to comprehend what has happened and
why, there has been minimal discourse and national reflection regarding the dynamics of domestic terrorism here at home
- which of course, would not be labeled terrorist activities by the perpetrators or the governing authorities.
Institutionalized domestic terrorism and oppression warrants as much attention and analysis as international terrorism
because unless the prior is addressed more adamantly and truthfully, international terrorism will continue to manifest
itself in a myriad of forms.
America is firmly rooted in a culture of violence and terrorism. One example would be that of the decimation of the
indigenous peoples. Another example would be the institution of slavery and post-slavery which continues to bear
engrained residuals of racism, intolerance and white supremacy to this day. Both systems of human exploitation and
sanctioned murders exerted tremendous terror and fear in efforts to control, reform and suppress the target populations.
The public whippings, rape and assaults on men, women and children of color in this country have left permanent scars on
our national consciousness and cannot be eradicated and dismissed via denial and indifference.
The public mass lynchings of Black men and women (and youth) were certainly terrorist to black people during that time
in history when it was a crime and a threat 'to be black'. Lynching was a public leisure sport and the horrific photos
of black bodies swinging from trees or crisply burned at the stakes of railroad tracks with white men, women and
children smiling in the background attest to the public acceptance of terrorism against Black people in American
society. One's very existence was threatened and terrorized by the KKK and other groups of blood-thirsty whites who felt
it their perogative and civil right to kill or maim black people because the American system of government had already
sanctioned that Blacks were inhumane and did not warrant the same civility and humanity as people with white skinned
privilege. Thus threatening, raping, terrorizing and incarcerating Blacks for prison labor did not constitute a crime in
the eyes of the law and therefore no protection or restitution could be afforded to Black victims of these horrendous
crimes. No one spoke of 'terrorism' in this country when such terror was (and continues to be) inflicted upon people of
color in this society via racial profiling, police brutality, poverty, mass incarceration and violence in prisons, the
war on drugs, institutionalized oppression, paramilitary searches and seizures, minimal income for demeaning jobs, poor
health and education services, homelessness, violence towards women and girls, destitiution and ultimately an assault on
basic individual humanity.
Terrorism is named and addressed now that it has hit all Americans and has the potential to further hit more of us
across race, class and gender lines. As long as terrorism was something that was being done towards marginalized folks
who were different or done by people of color towards each other, it was not deemed as a national threat. As long as it
was being done by the Taliban towards their own people or done by men of color against their own women it was deemed as
contained or legitimate - safe. As long as it was being done by Blacks towards Blacks in other countries or within the
United States, it was perceived as non-threatening, socially expected and not news-worthy. Now, terrorism has hit the
United States and it has hit the safe, glass bubble of white Americans in large numbers. It has the hit the middle
classes of all races. Now it has been deemed an international threat.
Because our country has not addressed the history and causes of racism, violence and oppression which has divided many
of us as Americans, it now seeks to unify us in the name of patriotism and war. It is a shame that we have to be unified
in the name of a crisis and war to rally for the military assault against other countries of color. It is a shame that
many of these American soldiers will be men and women of color fighting an unknown and unseen enemy because we have a
government that is determined to control the global economy and the world. It is a shame that many of us are willing to
support this war in the name of protecting American freedom and democracy when we allow this same government to inflict
war, violence and economic exploitation upon other countries so that we can maintain our materialistic ways of life,
consumption and freedom as Americans. We have not learned the lessons of the past wars and aggressions and many of us
have chosen to remain in denial about why these terrorists did what they did recently in New York and Washington. Our
national media would have us to believe that these were crazy people who just lost control of themselves, killed
Americans and committed suicide. These individuals did not 'flip out' one day and decide to take out Americans. They
strategically planned their targets and symbols for months if not years. They planned to take their own lives in this
deadly process of targeting symbols of power.
Ours is a government that takes pride in its imperialism and seeks to perpetuate a global dependency on the United
States and its imperialist alliances. We are witnessing the final stages of capitalism and Western imperialism and
because other countries have grown weary of our global domination and arrogance, we are now entangled in a global
'blowback' as a result of our foreign policies, our destabilization of other countries, our covert actions and our
globalization efforts to hegemonize the rest of the world according to the American Way.
The United States has focused primarily on being the global police rather than setting a global precedent of
non-violence and democratic civility. We have allowed our own society to deteriorate to such a degree whereby many of us
are socialized to live schizoid lives entrenched in extremes of both cultural violence and degradation of others on the
one hand and a religious, moral and civil ethics on the other. Many Americans are expected to be aggressive,
indifferent, arrogant and insensitive to others as witnessed in our media culture and embrace and uphold God and
morality at the same time. We are the last ones who should dictate and preach to the rest of the world about the virtues
of good and global civility when we do not lead by example at home. We are a racist nation. Our country walked out of
The U.N. World Conference Against Racism with Israel recently in South Africa, illustrating to the rest of the world
that we could care less about racism and that we refuse to address its past legacy and its present realities. We are a
nation full of contradictions and hypocrisy. We are now a nation in pain and anxiety about our safety and well-being
under global terrorism. We are now one nation under seige. We have discovered that terrorism, pain and violence can
indeed attack all Americans regardless of where we are and that our vulnerabilities are great. The recent terrorist
attacks against Americans did not mark its targets according to skin color.
Perhaps this crisis is happening at a time when all of us are in need of more dialogue to examine where we have been
going and where we have been stuck in our social evolution as human beings. We have allowed the tenets of imperialist
behavior to dictate our ways of life and how we think and behave towards others. Now we are being challenged to examine
our tracks and who we really are as human beings. A capitalist society strips away the humanity of its people forcing
them to focus on laboring and working for a system that rewards it in the form of cash and thereby keeping them
preoccupied with surviving, spending and having a good time. The party is over.
We are not exempt from the pain and suffering that other cultures and peoples have had to endure for many years - in
many cases, as a result of our country's foreign policies. We are not exempt from an economic recession or further
terrorist attacks that could wipe us from this earth at any given time as we have recently witnessed. We need to be more
engaged with a transparent and honest dialogue about who we are as a diverse nation of people and how we have arrived to
this stage and time. We do not need pretentious waving flags of solidarity to assuage our pain and further cloud the
truths of where we have gone wrong. Now is the time to examine our consciousness and have the courage to embrace our
weaknesses, fears and failures in a effort to heal the wounds of our nation. This cannot be done as long as we do not
address and atone for our past atrocities (at home and abroad) and to cleanse the blood that stains this country's
hands. Now is the time for our nation to be more responsible as citizen's of the global community in exemplifying a
behavior that transcends the hideous cycle of war and moves towards policies and actions that are more humane and
ethical if we truly seek any enduring freedom. But freedom and civil liberties cannot be segregated according to race,
class and gender contingency lines. Freedom has to be affirmative action in praxis for all Americans and with freedom
comes personal and social responsibility.
Perhaps by getting our own domestic house and agenda in order as to what constitutes freedom, justice, democracy and
being an American citizen, we will not continue to put our citizens at the risk of further global hatred and scorn as a
result of marketing and imposing our cultural values and ideals upon the rest of the world. This tragic crisis is an
opportunity to dispel the myths many of us have held about ourselves as Americans and to realize that we too have a
responsibility as world citizens to listen to the rest of the world - for a change.
Copyright (c) 2001 Teresa Williams. All Rights Reserved, republished with permission of the author