Friday, September 08, 2006

September 11

Everybody has a story, don't they? Last year the media had Katrina to report. The year before was the defenestration of Dan Rather at CBS. But this year, unless something dramatic happens in the next forty-eight hours, what passes for "news" is mostly a duke's mixture of odds and ends. The Jon Binet Ramsey investigation is back to square one. National politics is in the lame-duck doldrums. The pickings are so scarce that Katie Couric's tagline and beating up pre-9/11 officials is about all that's left. Even Washington Journal is down to asking people to tell how 9/11 affected them individually.

I find the focus on the WTC disaster not only tiresome but dangerously misleading. I knew within hours of the attack that the political impact would make the re-election of George Bush a slam-dunk. Under the circumstances even Warren Harding could have been re-elected. It occurred to me that during his second term George Bush had a unique opportunity to shine as a peacemaker. Few leaders in history have been as prominently placed to choose clearly for peace instead of war. But that outcome was not to be.

As he leaves the White House, our president has succeded in polarizing the American public to an extreme that I have not seen in my lifetime. Not during the Red Scare of the Fifties, the Civil Rights arguments of the Sixties, the Star Wars and Evil Empire trembling of the Seventies, or the moral terpitude of the Clinton years has the country been so divided. We now have Red and Blue as buzzwords to let us know at once whether you are fer us or agin' us. We speak glibly about Left this and Right that as though the words were well-understood and had sound philosophical and historic roots. They don't, you know, and neither do the terms Liberal or Conservative. Not in the sense that they are currently being used. Depending on context, these words have become epithets or slogans.

The polarization is so complete -- and so evenly split (witness that last presidential election) -- that I don't think there is even a "silent majority" left. At least in years past there was a bedrock of timid but solid citizens whose commitment to good habits and quiet patriotism was ballast to the national ship of state. That ballast seems now to be almost gone. Everyone seems to be on deck, running starboard to port and back again, with every shift in the weight of the crowd bringing the ship dangerously close to capsizing.

It took only five years, but the effect of terrorism on America is becoming a measurable success. We have been transformed from the world's avatar for peace, democracy, freedom, economic success and political stability into however those ideals can become corrupt.

Instead of peace we stand for war.
Instead of democracy we stand for the support of monarchies, autocrats and the suppression of popular opinion.
Instead of freedom, we stand for domination. Most humanitarian efforts are administered by Americans in military uniforms instead of civilian clothes.
Global portfolios are not graded according to how well they lift poor people out of economic hardship but how good the ROI looks this quarter, this year, of for the latest five-year trend. (Both are possible, by the way. We don't have to choose between exploitation and profits but most investors are so concerned with profits that they have no impulse to monitor the exploitation contributing to the revenue.)

No need to go on. Those who see my point will agree and the rest will not be swayed by any further ranting on my part. I watched helplessly as people in positions of power successfully persuaded most of America that the War in Iraq was triggered by Arabian terrorists who perpetrated the WTC attack, the attack of the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. As those horrible events are relived this weekend, I continue to watch helplessly as the memories of those painful hours are profaned to suit various political agendas.

The perpetrators who committed those unbelievable -- words fail me...the word crimes is not enough...tragedies, events, attrocities are not adequate...I don't think we have any word that truly describes what happened that day...
Anyway, those who did it are dead. And we have taken a course of action that seems right on the face of it, but which is in fact spawning more candidates to join the ranks of those who would rather see America destroyed than understood.

Let us pray for a peacemaker in the White House.

Anyone still reading can now link to last year's post and comments about September 11.


Toom witha Vu said...

With whom should the peacemaker in the White House make peace with?

Hoots said...

The loyal opposition.

Hoots said...

Update, September 12
There is a timely followup to this thread. See the Loyal Opposition post.
British Conservative (love the use of that word) David Cameron speaks the same language.