Let me tell you, two years ago I had one lousy day, a complete fog of unreality from the moment I woke up to NPR with vague early reports to the time I went to bed but did not sleep. They evacuated my office building, which is five blocks from the White House, and when I was finally able to drive home five hours later, I could see the tower of smoke from the Pentagon as I crossed Key Bridge into Virginia. Disbelief and outrage and grief, like everyone else.
Once it had sunk in and I was able to think about the larger picture, I felt even worse. I have a bit of a cynical streak, if you ain’t guessed already, and it burns particularly bright when I think about this administration. On September 10, you had an administration and President with middling approval ratings, with Rumsfeld and Ashcroft particularly unpopular. Within a week of the attack, with flags everywhere, the President polling high, and bricks flying through the windows of Mosques and Muslim (and Sikh, fer chrissake) community centers and businesses – the saber rattling had begun in a White House that considered itself newly sanctioned to wreak holy, military, and corporate vengeance on “terror.” You’re either for us or against us. We’re gonna get you sumbitches. The evildoers hate freedom. Freedom haters? This is the sort of thing you get when you give a dozen monkeys a dozen typewriters.
Bush and his marketing staff began their campaign to appropriate all the grief, death, and destruction as fuel for a patriotic fervor that would serve as a shield for politicians and the military-industrial complex as, for example, they bombed hundreds of innocent Afghans, violated Geneva conventions, passed the execrable Patriot Act, detained innocent Americans because they were Arabs or Muslims (how many still detained and awaiting trial?), branded dissenters as traitors, and created the “War on Terror,” a mission whose methods, aims, and justifications are as vague as its name.
And in the name of fighting terror, this sham war on Iraq. The attacks two years ago were the perfect excuse. See the names at the bottom of this 1998 letter to Clinton? These are the Neocon Chickenhawks who have been gunning for Iraq since Bush I. George H. W. wasn’t compliant enough, Clinton wasn’t going to listen to them, but now there’s Dubya, and oooh look, terrorism. Georgie, wanna go to war? Look around this site, kids. It’s a program for American imperialism, and Dubya is their perfect little tin Caesar.
And yesterday Caesar called for enhanced police powers as part of a push to expand the execrable Patriot Act. This due process business is really getting in the way of the War on Terror, I guess. The ACLU has produced a good high-level analysis of Bush’s requests; while you’re at their site, be sure to read their other Patriot Act materials.
So this is how this administration memorializes the people who died two years ago. Stripping civil liberties, bombing civilians, bolstering arms companies, handing out huge contracts to Halliburton and other corporate titans (wonder where that 87 bil is going?), and of course, praying. Awww, look, the president is praying!
Taken all together, it’s insulting. Tonight I’m going to drink a few to the victims of the attacks and remember them, but damned if I’ll celebrate “Patriots Day.”