Home > 9/11 News, Political Ranting > Ghosts of 9/11 Past

Ghosts of 9/11 Past

September 11th, 2007

I am taking this opportunity to look back at my 9/11 comments from years past in this blog. It is not surprising that the same ideas still apply, more than ever before. It is depressing that things have only gotten worse, that we have not learned, that we have embraced the authoritarian rule that has brought us only poverty and self-ruin. Had we simply been brave, bold, and determined after 9/11, had we scoffed at the terrorists instead of accepting the official instigation to cower in fear, then we could still be strong today, still be standing tall, the stoic and admired leader of the world, not the bully who would be pariah if his power ebbed.

Terrorists are not the threat we are told they are; they have no new powers they did not have in the past; we are in no more danger from terrorism than we were before, in fact we are probably safer than before. You are in greater danger from traffic than from terrorists. Fear is the enemy, and fear is now used by the politicians to make us cowed and pliable. Our Constitution, the very core of America, is being whittled down to make way for a new order, a perfect world by the lights of conservative and neo-conservative dreamers, who in the past could never have made these dreams real because the Constitution prevented them.

The threat is not from without, it is from within. Fight against fear, fight for your rights and freedoms. Be an American: fear not, accept risk, and hold liberty as more dear than life itself.

Over the past six years, we have done the exact opposite. We have trembled in fear, bought wholesale the lies of those who want us to fear, and applaud when they remove more and more liberties, foolishly believing that we are “safer,” meekly believing that such imagined safety is worth losing our liberty over. We have been addled cowards, undeserving of the proud name “Americans.” We have let manipulative fascists control us.

Yes, fascists, and do not dare suggest that the use of that word is ridiculous or makes the one who points to it a conspiracy nut, as if fascism could not possibly exist today.

Do you really believe that Americans are not living in a fascist state today? Consider the dictionary definition of fascism: “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” How could that possibly not apply to the past six years?

Fascism is when individual and societal interests are considered less important than the needs of the state. How could that possibly not apply to the past six years?

The Anatomy of Fascism” describes what we are experiencing to a T; fascism flourishes with and is marked by:

  1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions;
  2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits;
  3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts;
  4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint;
  5. fear of foreign “contamination.”

Look at that list. Every one of these is true today in the U.S. We feel a sense of crisis (terrorism) beyond traditional solutions, hence the policy of pre-emptive war and the abrogation of civil rights and liberties.

We believe we are victims of 9/11, victims of terrorism; this on top of the long-held and long-cherished right-wing tradition of being the ultimate victim despite having the greatest privilege and power. White males are victims. Christians are victims. Right-wingers are victims of the “liberal media” and vicious left-wing conspiracists attacking from dark corners and even coffee cups.

Bush has been considered by the fearful as a natural leader, allowed to lead by instinct instead of fact or reason.

We consider ourselves a chosen people, above all others in the world: note our insistence that other countries join our military ventures under our command, but that it would be unthinkable that any of our forces fall under the command of anyone else; note the dismissal of the Geneva Convention and the easy acceptance of torturing and imprisoning people of other countries without a thought; note our willingness to kill hundreds of thousands in other lands, and then either pretend they love us for it, or wonder incredulously why they do not.

And finally, we fear foreign contamination: we “suffer” from a “crisis” of illegal immigrants, we have to accept the idea of English-first and English-only or be labeled un-American; and many right wingers dread the fact that within the next half-century, Hispanics will form the majority, and whites will lose their privileged status.

It is hard to not see fascism, not creeping in, but flowing in freely through the gaps in our core principles that have been gouged out by our fear.

The following are excerpts from my comments on 9/11 from 2003, from the now-defunct expat.org:

Two important truths after 9/11 are still not widely accepted by Americans: first, we are no more likely to be the targets of terrorism today than we were before 9/11, and second, the “War on Terror” has been abused to rework the political landscape and take actions that Americans would never have approved of in times of peace and calm.

The terrorists have not magically acquired new powers, and now that we are aware of the possible threat, our security is tighter than before (although far too much has been spent in foreign ventures which could much more productively have been spent on security at home). The likelihood of something as spectacular or widely devastating as 9/11 happening again is less than it was two years ago. Instead of feeling less secure, we should feel more secure.

Bush did not squander the reflexive, fear-based popularity 9/11 gave him, and immediately found it reason, as well as a smokescreen, to launch every conservative motion that could be rammed through Congress. What is telling is that almost all of what has been accomplished is pretty much identical to what conservatives have wanted all along: greater police powers and diminishment of civil rights in criminal investigations, growing the military, taking on foreign ventures in oil-rich countries, and pronouncing the protection of America and the safety of its people a Republican domain. All of these have been installed under the guise of “national security,” and Democrats have felt enormous pressure to go along: the Bush administration has made it very clear that dissenters will be labeled enemies of the homeland; Anyone who dissents is depriving us of security and giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Hermann Goering would have been proud:

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

Our liberties were among the first to suffer. “Homeland” security (a name eerily evocative of mid-twentieth century European fascism), with provisions to violate personal freedoms to an extent never dreamed of a few years ago, was passed almost without question. All Bush had to do was to proclaim, “An Evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland.” Sounds reasonable, right? The only problem is, those words were spoken by Adolf Hitler. Bush simply paraphrases.

This is not to say that Bush is Hitler. It is, however, to point out that the formula for using fear to control a populace and lead them into war has not changed.

Three years later I wrote the following, in 2006:

The damage done to our country over the past five years has been immeasurable. Our economy has been gutted where it once stood on the edge of hope, and now may never recover as it could have only a few years ago. We are now mired in a meaningless war that has so drained and torn apart our military that it is questionable as to whether we could sustain ourselves in a serious conflict. Our freedoms and civil liberties are endangered as never before. What once was a news media that worked to a degree has now been subverted and dragged down into a mud that makes anything that comes from it suspect. The arena of politics, in even worse shape when this started, is now so degenerate that it is hard to see anything constructive coming from it again.

It is easy to lose hope. But there is a way out. And one prerequisite of finding the way out is that we recognize the source of the problem. And the source is not the terrorists.

The terrorists were a spark. They are still a danger, but not the greater danger, to be certain. The majority of plagues that we now suffer were created by those who hijacked the power created by the fear the terrorists instilled in us. So let me suggest some tools that could be used to fight the real danger:

  1. Resolve not to fear. Our present leader tells us to be afraid, where past leaders taught us to avoid fear. We have terror alerts, terror arrests, we are told that enemies abound in the world and unless we do as we are told by the government, they will slaughter us. Criticize the government, we are told, and you embolden the enemy.

    Do not be afraid of terrorists. They are not that great of a threat, not enough to allow what has been done to us in the name of fear. There will always be attacks. We simply have to live with that, just as we live with the possibility of traffic accidents, natural disasters, and crime. 50 times more people have died in traffic accidents in American since 9/11 than died in terror attacks. Be vigilant, have good investigative police work, have good international cohesion and support, and we can deal with terrorism as well as it can be dealt with. Terrorists were here before, and they will always be here. We must protect against terrorism just like the other threats, but it should not control us or allow others to control us.

  2. Fight for liberty. By “liberty” I do not mean “against terrorists”; such a mindset empowers those who truly threaten us now. By “liberty” I mean the principles that our country was founded upon, the principles so threatened at this time. The principles that so many conservatives hate so fiercely and would wish to destroy. The principle of separation of church and state. The principle of individual rights. The principle of limited governmental power. It is not our personal safety which is at stake here, it is our liberty. And it is not terrorists who threaten us, it is our own current government and those who support it.

  3. Appeal to reason and fact. Do not allow others to think for you, and truly study and understand what is happening. Almost all the conservatives I have observed visit this site have come armed with nothing more than arguments they heard others make, their arguments as shallow as the punditry they absorbed. It is usually easy to shatter the arguments simply by digging just a little bit past the copied-and-pasted propaganda; what is harder is to shatter the presumption of righteousness that goes beyond facts, information, and truth. These are the extreme examples of people who have surrendered their ability to rationally observe a set of facts in order to instead appease their desired perception of reality. If you surrender your reason to sate your desire, you are terribly easy to control, like a cigarette smoker instantly believing a study that says smoking is not harmful, disregarding the fact that the study is a fraud paid for by the tobacco companies.

    Most people are not yet too deep in that abyss yet. To keep from being dragged in, you must never allow your desire for a thing allow you to believe it. I believed in the Killian National Guard memos too easily and for far too long, only because I wanted to; that caused a weakness in my ability to argue and debate, and probably caused those who read what I wrote to believe my words less. Don’t be afraid to question what you want to hear. Study the information. Reason for yourself instead of simply following the crowd you have chosen. Don’t be afraid to come to a conclusion, but allow the facts, and not your fears or desires, to inform that conclusion.

    A tangent to this is the need to keep the media honest. Do not accept the words of those whose bias overrides their dedication to the facts and honest appraisals of a situation; do not accept the idea that opinion rates as strongly as fact. The truth does not compromise; if a contention or representation is not supported by fact, then it is not acceptable. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth should be the standard, and if a media entity giving the impression that it relays facts does not live up to this standard, it should be duly and strongly scorned and disrespected. Somehow, along the way, too much opinion crept into factual reporting. There is a place for reporting, but the core of a healthy news media is stark, bare fact.

  4. Be willing to sacrifice. Desire can be all too compelling a weakness for others to control you with. You want money too much, and so others use that desire to rob you. You want safety too much, so others use that to steal your freedom. We are far too easily manipulated because we crave more than we think. We crave tax cuts and so vote for them, only to find we’ve been shaken down and tossed aside. We think we can get things without paying for them, so we end up with education and health care in a shambles, and still believe the impostors who tell us that “throwing money at the problem won’t fix anything,” even as they throw trillions of dollars at rich people because that will “fix” the economy.

    As Robert Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Don’t vote for a tax cut because you’d like an extra few bills in your pocket; be willing to sacrifice for better schools and hospitals. And instead of whining about how politicians can’t be trusted to spend, try to actually monitor how your representatives vote and control their actions like you should be doing. In a democracy, the citizen is supposed to be the boss. So act like one. Be informed, responsible, and manage. Surrender that control, and expect to be cleaned out by con men.

    And one more thing: if you think a war is necessary, be prepared to enlist and fight. If even half the conservatives of fighting age who spend their days vehemently arguing the ‘rightness’ of the war in Iraq were to actually enlist and serve, there would be no problems with the shortage of troops.

And then there is this, from September 1, 2002, almost one year after 9/11, and before I started the blog in earnest:

Perhaps the reason why [we accept the erosion of liberties] has to do with that confidence that it “won’t happen to me.” After all, I’m not a terrorist. I will never even be accused of being so much as a suspect (or, more insidiously, a “person of interest”). And the people they take away, they will certainly be bad people; we don’t arrest and detain innocent people, after all. And it will make me safer.

Will either error or corruption ever reach you? Does it matter? Should you allow this even if you are guaranteed that you, personally, will never fall to such a fate? Are you willing to sacrifice the freedom, liberty, and even lives of innocent people so long as your hide is a bit safer?

There’s a word for people who act in that manner: cowards.

This is George W. Bush’s legacy: he turned the United States into a nation of cowards, trembling fearfully at shadows, so that we could become more pliable and easily manipulated.

America as a set of core principles still exists; it cannot, in fact, be destroyed. But more and more each day, the United States ceases to be that country.

I await the day when America returns.

Categories: 9/11 News, Political Ranting Tags: by
  1. September 12th, 2007 at 05:14 | #1

    Phenomenal post and analysis of the current situation…I believe we are justified in our anger at the current situation. At this point in time, I resonate most with a political statement like this:


    It puts things into the proper perspective. Please pass it along to anyone willing to listen! And even those who are not…

  2. Luis
    September 12th, 2007 at 09:27 | #2

    Lyon: Thanks for the comment. Interesting link–“there are those who think they are righteous because they say ‘yes’ to god… but they do not do his will.”

  3. September 12th, 2007 at 14:06 | #3

    Bush: The worse president ever!

  4. September 12th, 2007 at 14:11 | #4

    From George Packer:

    The war was born in the original sins of deceptive salesmanship, divisive politics, and wishful thinking about the aftermath. The bitterness of that history continues to undermine American interests in Iraq and the Middle East today. President Bush will have his victory at any cost, with one eye on his next Churchillian speech and the other on his place in history, leaving the implementation of his war policy to an Administration that works at cross purposes with itself, promising freedom and delivering rubble. The opposition is plainly eager to hang a defeat around his neck and move on from what it always regarded as Bush’s war.

Comments are closed.