Monday, September 11, 2023

The Politics of 9/11

      It was my home town that had received the lion's share of the destruction. Less than 20 years before, I'd walked through those same concrete canyons in Lower Manhattan, specifically 5th Avenue, shopping for books in 1982 right after my discharge from the Navy, without a care in the world. To this day, I can't watch the footage from that day, hear the firsthand stories of tragedy, humanity and heroism that are forever inextricably entwined without my eyes at least misting up.
     As with the Kennedy assassination, everyone above the age of four or five remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news. Children were in school, adults were at work or home with preschool-aged children. It was supposed to be just another Tuesday and 2972 adults and kids were supposed to be home or in hotel rooms preparing for Wednesday. Only, they never made it.
     I was just starting my day at work in Hudson, Massachusetts. The internet was a totally different place back then. Despite the emerging digital technology, things still took a bit of time. It started with phone calls, then brief news articles online, then pictures then the horrifying videos. Then the 24/7 news cycle. I worked as a Quality Control inspector for a company that made silicone rubber parts for the airline, aerospace and automotive industries. 
     When the FAA shut down air traffic all over the US, we knew at some point our little company would take a hit. It was only a matter of when. I recall the following year talking to another QC inspector when he told me a story told to him by an FAA inspector during a biennial audit. He said heads began rolling and firings commenced at the FAA before the second plane even hit the South Tower. Yet, according to the news, the only one at the FAA who got the axe was the woman who'd headed up the agency.
     Even though I would start blogging about politics for better than three years after 9/11, I've written about it several times over the years and didn't have an idea of where a 22nd anniversary article would take me. As with many others in the past, I've decided to go free form.
     22nd anniversaries awkwardly fall right in the middle of landmark anniversaries 20 and 25. However momentous and solemn the occasion, 22 just doesn't ever assume the implied importance that a 20th or 25th anniversary is accorded.
     This year, for some reason, it's different.
     For some reason, this year, 2023, it feels as if September 11th has gotten back the gravitas that had been leached from it over time. Now, we're seeing digitally corrected video footage that had been shot on that day, we trot out the same horrifying photographs and the survivors tell their stories again. But in 2001, we lived in a different world, familiar, very similar to 2023 but still different. The internet was slower, we didn't have cell phones that could record videos, there was no social media with its instant gratification, the news more hesitant and for hours, most Americans still didn't know exactly what had happened.
     And, maybe, to this day, we still don't. As with the Kennedy Assassination Commission, the 911 Commission was a dog and pony show from start to finish and that was the idea. After all, George W. Bush initially tapped Henry Kissinger to head up the Commission until the Jersey Girls, all on their own, turned up Kissinger's business dealings with the bin Laden family.
     As proof that we were a different nation, a different people, we were treated to the spectacle of George W. Bush getting the news from Andy Card about the second plane hitting the South Tower in a first grade classroom in Florida and him sitting there for seven minutes like a cow hit in the head with a sledgehammer. Next thing we knew, he was MIA while Dick Cheney was in his bunker at the WH giving orders to shoot down, so the story goes, United Airlines Flight 93 over Shanksville, PA.
     The next memory regarding Bush that comes to mind is him standing on a pile of rubble at Ground Zero, a bullhorn glued to his kisser, despite how ridiculous the optics looked. At that moment, he was a doing a credible impression of a Third World dictator ruling over an endless pile of bombed buildings. But in spite of the horrible optics of Bush standing on a pile of smoking rubble, showcasing his complete and utter failure to protect the American people, a Commander in Chief's primary duty, not a single one of us had to suppress even so much as a giggle.
     Far from it. We rallied as a nation and came together in a way that hadn't been seen since the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Despite his ridiculous Bill Pullman/Independence Day theatrics, Bush enjoyed an unheard of 90% approval rating simply on the strength of him occupying the Oval Office at the wrong time. 
     The CIA tried to warn him about bin Laden and al Qaeda's plans to attack the United States using our own planes against us and Bush waved them off while, typically, on vacation in Crawford, Texas with a breezy, "OK, you've covered your ass."
     And still, no one laughed. We rallied around our "president" even in the wake of the worst national security disaster, perhaps, in American history, at least since Pearl Harbor. What choice did we have? In times of national disaster, humans look to their leaders more than ever for protection, guidance, some reassurance, Goddamnit, that something's going according to plan, that justice will be meted out.
     Instead, what we got was the start of a pointless war that would last nearly 21 years then. the year after next, another pointless (and illegal) war that would last for over eight. It wasn't until thousands more bodies began streaming in at Dover AFB in Delaware that we began asking questions then levying criticism. Contractor corruption, trillions wasted, the same five Anglo American oil companies kicked out by Saddam three decades earlier sliding back into their old padded chairs, a million needlessly dead Iraqis. Only then did we start to wake up.
     But America 22 years ago today was a different place. Strangers helped strangers out of the wreckage and the doomed buildings. Mayor Rudy began his endless jog toward Lower Manhattan and became our de facto president while Bush aimlessly flew around overhead like a lost cosmetics case.
     And still, we supported him.
     I fear that kinder, much more forgiving and nonpartisan United States is lost and gone forever just as surely as is the old pre-9/11 normal. We supported our "president" despite his obvious failure, cowardice and indecision because, Lord help us, Bush was all we had.
     But the real heroes on 911 weren't the ones with bullhorns but outdated radios that couldn't connect the FDNY and NYPD to better coordinate a rescue response (Something else Mayor Rudy would like you to forget). Specifically, the real heroes were the 242 firefighters who lost their lives that day as well as the 72 police officers who'd also perished, not to mention EMTs, paramedics and other EMS personnel. In short, the planet had lost 2972 human beings from 90 different nations. And, as usual, the Republican Party wasn't up to the task. Instead, as usual, their only response was to turn a world-altering tragedy into a Petri dish of corrupt, right wing capitalism.
     How many of us have looked at old footage shot that day and asked ourselves how many of the firefighters rushing toward those doomed towers died that day? How many subsequently died from respiratory-related illnesses cleaning up Ground Zero for over a decade?
     We certainly have the right to ask questions 22 years later without being slurred as Truthers and we have even more of a right to question the patriotism of those in power today who, in name at least, belong to the same party as George W. Bush, at best the accidental architect of 911?
     As Tom Hartmann wrote today, we can't let the 911 lies fall down the memory hole, although I think that ship done sailed decades ago. But we should also be allowed to question the priorities and patriotism of the radical right wing for misappropriating 911 to score cheap political points.
     Like dependable bomb-thrower Marjorie Taylor-Greene who took the solemn occasion to take a swipe at Biden, who was a senator on 9/11. Or Rep. Ralph Norman, who compared Biden to bin Laden, the man blamed for 9/11. Even Trump, through his usual word salad, kept his commemoration of 9/11 nonpartisan.
     I despair with the deepest cynicism that we'll ever get the full truth in my lifetime of what happened that day. Experts have been chiming in for 22 years with information and on-the-ground observations that that, in countless cases, simply don't jibe with the government's and MSM's narrative. But I'm not here to use this anniversary to advance what would surely be shouted down as "truther" conspiracy theories.
     Instead, I'll use it to remind you of who the real enemies of this country are: The Republican Party, specifically the Freedom Caucus who are even now planning to shut down our government just as they had a decade ago and are squirting sewage at a president who was a senator on 9/11.
     They and the domestic terrorists to whom they continue to give aid and comfort, those who attacked our Capitol on January 6th. The two terrorist attacks cannot be put on a equal footing but both have several things in common- It was an attack on our way of life, on our very democratic system of governance and people needlessly died.
     September 11th, as with January 6th, are wounds that will never truly heal. They are suppurations, an infected wound guaranteed to remain open. At best, it will, over a very long period of time, heal and leave behind some necessarily ugly scar tissue serving as a reminder that we must remain ever vigilant, if not hyper-vigilant, of terrorism and the threat of it in our midst.

     And to not replace criminals with false idols on rickety pedestals.


At September 11, 2023 at 10:48 PM, Anonymous CC said...

The only thing Kissinger should be heading up is a chain gang.


Post a Comment

<< Home

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #106: The Turkey Has Landed edition
  • #105: Blame it on Paris or Putin edition
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
  • Powered by Blogger