Now at 22 years on from “that day,” my first thought after traveling by subway to lower Manhattan today was “I hope that the organizers of the 9-11 memorial ceremony had the good sense to keep indicted criminal defendant Rudy Giuliani away this year.” My second was noting that the subway car appeared to be full of teenagers on their way to attend high school, probably at Stuyvesant, which was famously impacted by September 11, 2001, and of course, none of them were alive at the time. My third thought was that today is actually the 50th anniversary of the real 9-11. You’ll just have to click the link if you want to see what I mean.
Let me get right to it: assuming the phrase ever meant anything, the terrorists have won, as brilliantly described in this piece in the Guardian. It’s over. “They” didn’t hate us for our freedom; they hated us for our rapacious foreign policy and economic practices, and the fact that we got in their faces, especially by stationing troops anywhere and everywhere including places others thought of as “holy.” And now “they” have gotten us to flush whatever “freedom” we had down the toilet of the national security state, but hey, whatever.
The real (most poignant, anyway) legacy of 9-11, near as I can tell, is that the US government’s official policy went from torture is wrong and a serious crime (indeed, a crime against humanity) to what we’re doing isn’t really torture and if it is torture it’s not a big deal, and FUCK IT, TORTURE IS AWESOME! A military judge at GTMO of all places… kind of disagreed, and in an old school ruling, held that torture is still… a problem. Not a problem for likely Republican nominee Donald Trump, of course… who is in the torture is awesome camp. Oh, did I say that out loud?
You know, despite my hard headed observations about what this country is really about, I’m as corny as anyone about some things. I’ve lived in Brooklyn (about a mile downwind from the WTC) for the entirety of the last 22 years, and I’ve worked downtown for the last 19 1/2 years (as well as a block north of WTC on “the day” itself where yes, I had a front row seat to the festivities). For years, I tried to be overtly patriotic and wear what became the Fox news flag lapel pin and honor “the pieties” of American patriotism. Indeed, on Saturday, I made sure that my 76th marathon was in a patriotic place, in this case, Washington, D.C. The event being so close to 9-11, there was a brief bell ringing ceremony in honor of “the heroes” just before the national anthem and start. [The particular hero that I chose to remember is discussed here.] I admit that I remove my baseball cap for the national anthem, not because I enjoy the fascist-like display of national greatness and loyalty, but out of old school aspiration [it’s an old school Brooklyn Dodgers cap, btw– the first MLB team to integrate] because it once stood for the free country to which my grandparents escaped czarist Russia and pogrom-riddled Eastern Europe to seek freedom and opportunity. [I should add that the two most moving pre-race national anthems I have ever encountered were musical renderings that were not “the Star Spangled Banner;” one was an incredible a capella rendering of the Battle Hymn of the Republic before a race starting at Harpers Ferry, WV, and the other was America the Beautiful at the start of the Pikes Peak Marathon in CO. Anyway, back to the anthem.]
At this point, of course, the national greatness fascists have co-opted the anthem and sporting events have military flyovers and baseball games have military color guards and we have to support our troops and… THE… TERRORISTS… HAVE… WON.
Oh, I should probably let you in on a little secret: the terrorists are IN THE HOUSE [of Saud, anyway].
In short, the oligarchs who run this place have decreed that we shall continue to burn oil and gas until life on Earth for humans is no longer tenable (won’t be too long, now); that we shall not have an increased minimum wage for peasants, let alone any kind of affordable health care, education or housing, and indeed; that all except the extreme rich shall be as miserable as humanly possible. Most Americans seem not only ok with all this, but at least a yuuuge number of Republicans are willing to vote for an avowed and full-throated fascist committed to ending democratic elections and the rule of law altogether. The blue team (“our side”) features a competent but clearly-getting-older 80-year old Joe Biden, who is managing a shaky economy plagued by inflation, suddenly high interest rates (and a possible looming recession) and a dangerous proxy war in Ukraine, and who, despite having some really good accomplishments, is pretty much only running an “Orange Man Bad” campaign. Anyway…
As a close observer of “the war on terror” and its manifestations, I can tell you that we have built up an awesome and awesomely expensive national security state; that is the real legacy of 9-11 (i.e., the terrorists have won). This has now extended to bipartisan “misinformation” campaigns– while I might disagree with “anti-vaxxers,” that the government is censoring or “managing” discussion in online forums could have only become “normal” in a post-9-11 world. My own daughter is now 23, not yet 2 at the time of 9-11, but never knew the pre-9-11 world; of course, neither did her entire generation. But those of us who did have a duty to try to hold on to a world where perpetual surveillance and governmental-thought-control (by either team red or team blue) IS NOT A THING… [I know, I know… an actual left-wing resistance somehow survived life in Occupied France and Nazi Germany, but here, we have I-phones… I know…]
Given the real 9-11, and the American role in it, none of this should be seen as all that much of an unexpected departure from the trajectory we have been on since Nixon and Kissinger, when you really think about it. And come to think of it, this guy (and his family) seems to have been all over everything. So as usual, I’ll turn it over to you-know-who for my best wishes: