Thursday, September 14, 2006

MediaBloodhound: Op-Ed Columns: My City, Our President and Exploiting 9/11

Generally I don't like quoting someone's work in toto but in this case I'm making an exception because as a native New York City person I don't know what else to do over the desecration that we as a Nation have undergone this week by these craven fucks.

MediaBloodhound: Op-Ed Columns: My City, Our President and Exploiting 9/11

This site normally keeps the “I” to a minimum. In general, the personal occurrences of my life have nothing to do with chronicling and commenting on the entrenched myth of liberal media bias and bringing to light stories that receive little or no attention. But I have lived in New York City for over half my life, and, until today, I couldn't bring myself to write about 9/11. You could say George W. Bush made me do it. In the midst of his ongoing exploitation of this tragedy, from which, in the five years since, his administration has found - through fear mongering, disinformation and McCarthyite attacks - only opportunity to advance its fascist agenda, I humbly present this personal response.

Five years ago today, I stood on the roof of my Brooklyn apartment and watched in horror as the World Trade Center towers choked on monstrous plumes of black smoke before tumbling from a deceptively welcoming blue sky. Later that day, a gray snow fell on my neighborhood, a powdery substance born of the soot and ashes of planes and buildings and the people who had been in them. It coated parked cars lining the blocks, the streets on which they stood and those of us who spoke to one another outside on our stoops, still in shock, our conversations as though taking place in a nightmare from which we hoped to wake.

I was one of the fortunate ones. I was alive.

Nor did I lose a family member or friend. Though I knew friends of friends who had. I was also spared the experience of some friends who lived down by the towers, who not only saw people leaping from them but heard the bodies thud on their rooftops. Their lives were forever changed.

As was our city.

In the days and months following 9/11, the city mourned and wept communally. Literally. Death and loss abounded. Photos of missing mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters stared out from the walls of buildings and trunks of trees. The stench of death and chemicals from Ground Zero clung to the air, a constant reminder of what had happened. We smelled it during the day, fell asleep to it at night and woke to it in the morning. An eerie stillness permeated our subway cars. Not the everyday quietude of strangers caught up in their own lives, but the inwardness of the bereaved. Open, uncontrollable grieving was commonplace on those rides underground. A passenger who initially seemed only fatigued, holding his head in his hands, would often reveal in the next moment a face creased in despair and streaked with tears. I can’t tell you how many times I witnessed this then. I can only tell you I’ve known no greater sadness than to countenance another human being in so much psychic pain, with which everyone around him can empathize but not relieve.

In addition to inspiring grief and fear of what might follow, the direct aftermath of the attacks on 9/11 instinctually stirred an urge for retribution. A desire to hold those responsible for these murders accountable for their actions. Correctly, many have pointed out that the Bush administration squandered the goodwill and unity offered by the international community in the wake of these attacks. But for those who supported George W. Bush’s subsequent war on terror and, incredulously, for those who still do, it’s high time they come to terms with what is now undeniable: the Bush administration, for all of its blusterous rhetoric, was never concerned about bringing those who perpetrated 9/11 to justice, or, for that matter, about taking substantive measures to prevent future attacks. Both of these points are manifest, respectively, in this administration’s decision to attack Iraq when it should have focused on tracking down Osama and its fecklessness, as judged by the 9/11 commission and every leading terrorism expert, to enact common sense anti-terrorism safeguards.

As a result, more than just squandering goodwill, the Bush administration, in effect, aided the assailants who struck us by diverting our nation’s attention from them, and pumped us with fear every day for five straight years while negligently leaving us wide open to further attack.

Moreover, whereas an administration that truly valued the sanctity of human life, rather than merely claiming to do so, would seek to attack only those responsible for 9/11, this White House, from cluster-bombing Afghanistan to shock-and-awing Iraq to sitting idly by while Israel recently leveled civilian populations in Lebanon, seeks neither to protect the lives of innocents nor satisfy any concept of justice.

Let me also sum up this administration’s overriding message for the last five years:


The purest form of propaganda this country’s ever seen.

Five years of war for peace. Ancient torture practices and secret gulags in the name of protecting human life. Unconstitutional intrusion of privacy and curbing of free speech in the name of ensuring liberty. Deploying our soldiers in a war of choice with insufficient body armor as evidence of support for our troops. Openly mocking any nation who disagreed with its agenda as evidence of strong leadership.

All of this would be infuriating and disheartening enough. But this administration’s affront to human decency knows no bounds.

Consequently, following a week in which our little dictator made a series of 9/11 speeches, small-minded sermons marked not by genuine mourning and empathy but by the fear mongering and truculence history will forever associate with his administration, he shuttled into the Big Apple yesterday for more of the same. With protestors held far from the cameras’ view, Bush laid two wreaths at Ground Zero before attending a church service across the street and then visiting a firehouse.

Outraged at everything this man has perpetrated in the name of answering the attacks on our city, I stood amid those protestors and began a chant that suddenly rose from my gut: “Stop exploiting 9/11! Stop exploiting 9/11!” Everyone around me immediately joined in. “Stop exploiting 9/11! Stop exploiting 9/11!” We soon found ourselves accentuating the natural and unexpected musical cadence of the phrase: “Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven! Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven!” Someone’s whistle kept tempo. Hands clapped in unison. “Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven! Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven!” Our voices rose above the hypocrisy of the scene, underscoring Bush’s false image of compassion that would grace television screens and newspapers and websites for days to come. Voices young and old, straining to overcome our restrained free speech. “Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven! Stop exploit-ing nine-eleven!” Voices sure to go unheard in the majority of news coverage.

After meeting with relatives of 9/11 victims yesterday, Bush expressed his depth of compassion: “It's hard not to think about people who lost their lives." He also didn’t miss another chance to beat the war drum during this crowning moment of exploitation: "I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day. …So tomorrow is also a day of renewed resolve.” In his brilliant essay “The Unfeeling President," E.L. Doctorow said of Bush, “But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. …To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing.”

The lies, the abuse of power, the death and destruction in the name of democracy, the sheer criminality and greed and incompetence – all of it, from the days those towers fell to this very day five years later, is simply unconscionable. The men and women of this abjectly corrupt and contemptible administration, who call themselves Americans and have the unfathomable gall to impugn the patriotism of our citizens, who’ve promoted and perpetrated this hijacking of our country, should not only resign in shame and disgrace, but face the multiple criminal charges deserving of them if our country is to reclaim its soul.

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