Heaping insult onto injury

Posted: Sep 21, 2001 12:00 AM
The special city and its environs have a special response to the terrorist attacks that rocked America on Sept. 11. There are flags waving in Oakland and Marin, which is something new, but there are also some special people who are using the brutal attacks to bash America as a bully country. At a memorial service for victims of the attacks, mind you. A man can't even mourn his lover in peace here. Paul Holm, 40, represented the family of his former partner, Mark Bingham, at the Day of Remembrance on Monday. Bingham -- bless him -- is believed to be one of the heroic passengers who fought back against the terrorists who hijacked United Airlines flight 93. Holm said of Bingham and fellow local hero Tom Burnett, who also fought back: "They were the one bright spot in a horrible day. I do believe (Mark and Tom) gave people something to hold onto." It's true. On a day when so many victims were helpless, there is comfort in the knowledge that some were able to thwart the destruction of a building full of people, perhaps the U.S. Capitol. Americans have reason to remember Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, and to thank them. Hence the Day of Remembrance. Nice idea, except that former San Francisco Supervisor Amos Brown actually used the event to attack America -- stoking some residents' sense of superiority on foreign policy issues. Said Brown, "America, America, what did you do -- either intentionally or unintentionally -- in the world order, in Central America, in Africa where bombs are still blasting?" And: "America, what did you do in the global warming conference when you did not embrace the smaller nations? America, what did you do two weeks ago when I stood at the world conference on racism, when you wouldn't show up?" The crowd cheered. Holm walked out. "I thought this was a day of remembrance and not a political event," Holm explained yesterday. "These were innocent people, a number of whom gave their lives for the country and to save other innocent people." Of all the politicians on the stage, only Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., publicly chided Brown. She noted, "The act of terrorism on Sept. 11 put those people outside the order of civilized behavior, and we will not take responsibility for that." Thank you, Nancy Pelosi. Brown is hardly the only America basher. The victims' ashes were still warm when The San Francisco Chronicle began receiving e-mails identifying the United States as a bully nation that asked for these attacks. The U.S. bashers versus Pelosi demonstrate a split in Bay Area liberalism: It's Blame America First -- even for violence committed by others against us -- versus Love America First. One side is so politically correct that it only sees global warming and the U.S.-boycotted U.N. conference on racism; then there are those whose criticisms of U.S. policies don't impede their love of country and their fellows. Maybe the America Bashers have been so vocal because they see a need to separate themselves from the carnage -- to pretend the Bay Area isn't really part of Target America. As Gar Smith of the Earth Island Journal wrote last week, the terrorists' "real targets" aren't Americans, but "world trade and U. S. militarism." They blame the victim. Perhaps they think if they blame America loudly enough, maybe the terrorists won't strike San Francisco, because San Francisco is so superior to the rest of America. Except it isn't. To live in the Bay Area is to hear countless love songs extolling the Special City, the tolerant Bay Area, home of culture and education. We are, locals imply, superior people. You wish. The Day of Remembrance shows that the special region is more interested in leftist issues than real people. When it comes time to honor men and women who died horribly and wrongly, the special city can't even do a simple memorial service justice.