September 13, 2010

Since That Day

On September 11th, I retweeted something that I thought was particularly poignant, and had been posted to Twitter by Xeni Jardin, where she said:

Honoring 9/11 by refraining from maudlin “where I was” tweets, or using the event as a mule to carry the cause-burden of my choosing.

I absolutely agree with her. After seeing the woeful tearjerking by people all over Twitter and just about everywhere else on September 11th, people who were and always have been far from New York City and Washington DC, people who claim to have been “directly affected” but watched on their television screens from miles away, and people who to this day continue to use the attacks on that day as a prop for their own personal political causes and beliefs, I decided to keep quiet about my feelings about that day.

The day was complicated for me personally, but that’s not what’s important. The folks out there with the glittery animated GIFs of eagles crying as the towers fell and Facebook status updates like “Never forget: if you’ll never forget post this to your status,” and whatnot are more than likely people who had no direct involvement or impact from the attacks – they’re simply all too happy to use the event as a chest-thumping excuse for sensless – and selfish – nationalism.

Every year that progresses, I get more and more jaded at the people who seem to cling so deeply to that day, especially as their ranks grow and I know that none of them lost a loved one, none of them saw the planes that day, none of them heard the explosion at the Pentagon, none of them ran from the expanding cloud of dust in lower Manhattan, and none of them were likely even awake early enough on that day to see everything happen.

I’m not alone, either – I think there’s a growing number of us who are tired of seeing 9/11 being used as a justification for mindless hatred and anger that thinly covers the sadness of people who were so far removed from it that they don’t even know how to move on like those of us who actually were affected simply had to.

Something else I think was extremely poignant was tweeted by Clayton Cubitt, someone I don’t have the pleasure of knowing, but saw retweeted by a number of people I do know. He said:

America, we love you, but quit trying to drag us into your creepy 9/11 death cult. We chose life. -NYC

Washington, DC would like to co-sign that statement, please. Thanks.

William Rivers Pitt, like he always does, has something poignant to say on the matter. He shares his own story, but then nails it with this:

Nine years, four national elections, two wars and two presidents since that day, and where are we now as a nation? Broke, deranged and dangerous pretty much sums it up. We have Christian-Taliban pastors in Florida with filthy souls threatening to burn the Qu’ran, as if such an act had any meaning beyond a desire to make money, and a national news media apparatus all too happy to give them all the ink and air time he could ever wish for. We have seething crowds threatening arson and murder because a Muslim community center might get built next to a strip club on the site of a defunct coat store. We have national caricatures like Sarah Palin charging people more than $200 for the chance to meet with her on that day, as if she has any significance at all. We’ve got stabbings and beatings and firebombings, and this is nine years later.

We are a nation of euphemisms now. It’s not spying on the American people, it is “national security.” It’s not holding someone in a hellhole without charges or trial, it is “indefinite detention.” It’s not kidnapping, it is “extraordinary rendition.” It’s not murder or assassination, it is “targeted killing.” It’s not torture, it is “enhanced interrogation.” It’s not wildly and patently illegal and immoral on its face, it is “war.”

We are a lessened nation nine years later, and much of the damage has been done by our own hand. It is one thing for people to react with fear and rage after an outrageous act of violence. It is quite another for the leaders of those people to exploit that fear and rage for their own dark and greedy purposes, and nine years later, we are down in the ditch thanks to exactly that sort of behavior. Thousands of American soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands more have been grievously maimed. Millions of civilians in those two countries have been slaughtered or shattered, but we may never know the true scope of the carnage, because “we don’t do body counts.”

Nine years later, one truth remains: America is an idea, a dream, a hope that has yet to be realized. Take away our people, our cities, our roads, our crops, our armies and navies and bombs and guns, take all of that away and there is still the idea, as vibrant and vital as it was when the Founders first put ink to parchment and changed the world. Everyone you know owns a heritage that began somewhere else; we are all different in so many ways, and all that binds us is the ink on that parchment and the ideas therein contained. We are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper, beholden to one another, all of us children of that idea.

Nine years ago, we were forced into an accounting of how dear that idea is to us, and were found wanting. Nine years later, we still are. The idea deserves better than what we have given to it. We can continue in this fashion, or we can summon within ourselves the will and wisdom to locate those better angels of our nature that are surely there, waiting for us.

The entire piece is much worth reading, and I strongly suggest you do.

[ Since That Day ]
Source: TruthOut

Hatred and Stupidity…But I Repeat Myself

William Rivers Pitt, writing for TruthOut, calls out Glenn Beck and his cohorts for the culture of hatred and fear that they’ve been generating in America today, and he’s on point, as usual. The terrifying thing is that even in the face of informed debate, their supporters still shove their heads in the sand and pretend that the truth isn’t staring them in the face – that the cult of personality around some of these far-right demagogues is not only destructive for them and their supporters, but also destructive for America.

2010 is shaping up to be the Year of the Hate Crime in America, thanks in large part to right-bent Republicans and their Tea Party allies who have nothing to run on in the upcoming midterms. Think about it; would you want to run for office as a Republican these days? Their dearest economic ideas gave us the current recession, their foreign policies resulted in a war we lost in Iraq and a war we’re losing in Afghanistan, their environmental designs have resulted in yet another oil rig detonation in the Gulf of Mexico, a great many of their supporters don’t believe in dinosaurs because the Bible doesn’t mention them, and their biggest national superstar is Sarah Palin, who by all appearances is so drastically stupid that she couldn’t figure out how to pour piss out of a boot if there were directions on the heel.

So, yeah, not much to hang your hat on there. In the absence of anything substantive to give the American people, the right has gone home to their mothership: sowing discord, fear and hatred to distract people from the fact that, while Republicans are good at campaigning, they are walking cancer cells to the body politic if and when they actually win.

This time around, the right’s weapon of choice against this republic is spreading hatred and fear of Muslims and Islam. September 11 happened nine years ago, so it may seem an odd topic to harp on after so much time has passed, but the Cordoba House controversy gave them an opening and they ran right through it. Of course, it started before that, pretty much as soon as President Obama first threw his hat into the ring for the 2008 election. Once the right figured out his middle name was Hussein, it was hats over the windmill, and their incessant blather about his background and religion has finally begun to bear bloody fruit.

I really couldn’t put it better myself, he’s absolutely tight. In the same way I pity the Republicans and what’s left of their party – having been eaten alive by the most radical and flag-waving-yet-truly-anti-American members among them, I pity the poor voters who actually think that these folks, draped in their flags, are actually a political alternative.

It’s actually terrifying what could happen to the Amercian people and to American society if these folks are allowed enough of a foothold that they make an impression on American politics – and in a lot of ways I’d feel worse for sensible Republicans who would find themselves crossing the aisle more often than not simply because the opposition to progress in America would be so poisonous and entirely lacking in desire to work collaboratively.

We’ve seen the stories in the media of right-wing nuts stabbing cab drivers shortly after asking them if they’re Muslim, we saw some of the most idiotic among us protesting a cultural center in lower Manhattan – and their idiocy would have been enough if they hadn’t all but violently assaulted a poor carpenter who was passing through the area because he had brown skin and was wearing a skullcap and they all assumed he was Muslim.

This is what it’s like to be Muslim in America, and the Tea Party thugs like it this way – it’s a way to reassert White, Christian, and Male privilege and authority – by creating new religious and ethnic underclasses that they can feel good about oppressing and that society lets them get away with because of the complexities of the issues. Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, Gays and Lesbians – we’re all subject to the same anger, and we’re all exploited in different ways.

Whether Muslims are being denied the freedom to worship, Latinos are being denied the American Dream, African Americans are being told to be quiet when they’ve been offended because they’re somehow playing the “race card,” or gays and lesbians are being told that they for some reason don’t deserve the right to marry, partner, or make decisions together as a family unit, these are the indicators that America is facing a terrible and dangerous threat to our collective freedom: one we have to stand up and repel, even in small ways, every day. To do otherwise is to let the thugs win and to slide backwards into their so-called “Good Old Days,” where there was one face of America, and it looked like they do today – everyone else was relegated to the sidelines.

[ Hatred and Stupidity…But I Repeat Myself ]
Source: TruthOut