Don't judge America

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 September, 2003, 12:00am

A strange thing has happened to America in the past two years.

Instead of receiving the world's sympathy in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the US has borne the brunt of more fervent anti-Americanism than ever before. The US is now the poster boy for macho imperialism and self-conceited righteousness. More people than ever want to take American lives.

The case against Iraq has been met with scepticism at best, what with US President George W. Bush's '16 words' in his State of the Union address and the increasingly destructive David Kelly inquiry in the UK. Indonesia - closer to Hong Kong than some think - suffers the repercussions of America's war.

American and British soldiers are still dying every day. The UN mission has been bombed. Former president Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are still missing. So are the weapons of mass destruction.

But what if there really is a warhead resting in the dunes of Iraq that could annihilate countries? What if Mr Hussein really is ready to release a chemical agent? If you had seen the slightest evidence of such weapons, wouldn't you do your best to destroy them? For all we know, the Americans may have already found the weapons, and Mr Bush is waiting for the right time to present them so that he will storm home in the upcoming election.

Which is why, two years after the most traumatic attack ever on US soil, we should put aside any assumptions we have of arrogant, overbearing Americans.

This is not a plea on behalf of America; it is merely a reminder that thousands of innocent people lost their lives. It is a reminder that in Hong Kong, we should feel fortunate that we are dealing with something like Article 23 legislation (or lack thereof) and not what plan of action will yield the least number of casualties.

I am not for or against the US. Americans live today in much the same way they did before the attacks, often too naive for their own good. They do not walk around with fear in their hearts, and they are still living a life of riches unimaginable to much of the world.

They are fortunate, no doubt. But we are fortunate, too - 3,000 lives more fortunate.

KEANE SHUM, Yale University