Conspiracies abound about 9/11. Raed Jarrar is detained for wearing "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic on a T-shirt.
What's the real conspiracy? What will we not be silent about?
The real conspiracy is a conspiracy of silence about the horrors of U.S. foreign policy globally for over 50 years. The real conspiracy is that virtually anyone seeking some justice in the Mideast -- including Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. -- have been intimidated into not addressing central questions. The real conspiracy is that Bush and his cohorts -- in front of everyone -- could justify the killing of civilians in the name of the killing of civilians.
The open conspiracy is that our political culture allows this exchange between O'Reilly and me on Sept. 13, 2001:
Neil Herman, a former FBI official tells O'Reilly that Bin Laden "considers himself a comrade, a warrior in the war against America, and that's what he stands for, and he feels that he's a soldier carrying out this message." To which O'Reilly replied: "A soldier who kills little children and women. There are no soldiers like that."
Shortly I was brought on and noted that "The last time our embassies, people took out our embassies in the, in East Africa. What did we do? We bombed the Sudan. What did we hit in the Sudan? We hit a pharmaceutical plant that was supplying the pharmacies for an impoverished African country." Adding: "Are we just going to reflexively quote/unquote 'retaliate' and kill innocent civilians and not the perpetrators?"
O'Reilly responded: "Here's what we're going to do, and I'll let you react to it, then we'll get to Professor Boyle to get his reaction to it. What we're going to do is, we're going to take out this Osama bin Laden. Now, whether we go in with air power or whether we go in with a Delta force, he's a dead man walking. He's through. He should have been through long before this. He's been wanted for eight years.
"Now, they're going to go in and they're going to get him. If the Taliban government of Afghanistan does not cooperate, then we will damage that government with air power, probably. All right? We will blast them, because --"
Husseini: Who will you kill in the process?
O'Reilly: Doesn't make any difference.
Husseini: No, no. It does make a difference. I don't want more civilians dead. We've had civilians dead in New York and now you're saying maybe it's OK to have civilians dead in Afghanistan.
O'Reilly: Mr. Husseini, this is war.
Husseini: Stop it.
O'Reilly: This is war.
Husseini: Let's just stop it.
O'reilly: This is war.
Husseini: Yeah, exactly. And in war you don't kill civilians. You don't kill women and children. Those are your words, Bill.
O'reilly: Oh, stop it.
Husseini: Let's stick to those words.
O'reilly: All right, let's go to Professor Boyle, because this is ridiculous.
Husseini: Bill --
O'Reilly: Mr. Husseini, I don't want to insult you, Mr. Husseini, but this is --
Husseini: Bill, that's so sad --
O'Reilly: This is -- this is -- you are just made the most absurd statement in the world. That means we wouldn't have bombed the Nazis or the Japanese. We wouldn't have done any of that, because you don't want somebody who has declared war on us to be punished. Come on.
Husseini: Whose declared war on us?
O'Reilly: The terrorists states have declared war, Mr. Husseini.
Husseini: Get them. Get the terrorists.
O'Reilly: Cut his mic.
Just as amazing as my getting my mic cut for saying "Get the terrorists" is that O'Reilly would go on to even cut the mic of Jeremy Glick, whose father was killed on 9/11. We need to be more than not be silent, we need to speak out about that which matters most.
[originally published at husseini.org on Sep. 13, 2006]