Bookends to the 9/11 Decade

A provacative argument drawing a line from the suicide attacks of 9/11 tp the single act of self-immolation in Tunisia that sparked the Arab Spring. Take a deept breath. Put the thoughts about the dastardly ways of “others” out of your mind. And read about how a group of impoverished people, when pushed to a point, will strike out at the vanity and elitism of their leaders who hold the common folk under their heel and the result can either lead to democratic change or a pointless quagmire.

These two fires — the one lit by the hijackers on September 11, 2001, the other sparked by a single individual in a small Tunisian town ten years later — form the bookends to the 9/11 decade. Indeed, you can draw a straight line from one to the other. Their kindling was the same: humiliation, lack of dignity, a smoldering frustration with the ways of the world, and the overwhelming urge to set it all alight. Their fuel was the same: both fires spread through satellite television and social networking sites, something al-Qa‘ida had pioneered long before there was any talk of a “Facebook revolution.”

Yet, on this 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, when Americans are embroiled in debates about what that day meant for us and how it changed the way we see ourselves in the world, perhaps we should pause for a moment and recognize the single most significant thing that the fires sparked by Mohamed Bouazizi and Mohamed Atta share in common, which is that neither of them had anything to do with us.

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