Friday, April 28, 2006
I have a lot of scattered opinions regarding the particular place the new United 93 movie holds in the snapshot weltanschauung of 2006, but the current crop of anguished cries of "it's too soon," and "I can't bear to watch" are driving me fucking nuts. Sullivan in particular teeters on the edge of, and then falls abjectly into, the religiosity that has infected the public remembrance of 9/11:
I regard the acts of those men and women to be an almost sacred moment in the history of America and of freedom. And sometimes, the sacred is best respected through silence. Sometimes, the greatest deeds, like the most monstrous acts, are best left unrepresented. They stand alone. They demand to be left alone. One day, commemmorate. But do not so swiftly represent.
This genuflection would be as affecting as Sullivan intended if it weren't so entirely self-serving. Sullivan obviously treasures, and has treasured, his self-image as one of the brave few who really understands the new world, when in fact he is the epitome of the cowardly millions who have completely misunderstood it. 9/11 didn't change the world. Terrorism's been around for a while, and people much smarter than Sullivan have been thinking about it and fighting against it for a long time, too.
What changed the world was not 9/11, but our hysterical reaction to it. Having been punched directly in the face, we have lashed out in every direction but the right one, indiscriminately slapped our friends, kicked strangers, until finally we found some likely target who kind of looked like the guy who punched us (and was somewhere we could get at him), and beat the ever-loving shit out of him.
By abstracting 9/11, by turning it from something specific that happened into a force and symbol of change, we create a ready excuse for almost any compromise. I won't (and don't have nearly enough time to) enumerate all of the ways that our posture toward the world, and our definitions of government power have changed. Support these changes or hate them, there is no denying that we have undergone a far-reaching revolution in a very short time. I said something like this back in 2002, but here goes again - We didn't lose any freedom on 9/11, and the criminals who carried out the attack didn't hate freedom. They hated America, as America had been explained to them. The only freedom we lost was what we gave away because we didn't know what else to do.
Listen, I don't know if I would have been strong enough to charge up the aisle and try to end flight 93 in a burning field rather than in the subcellar of the White House. I hope so, but I don't know. It was an extraordinary act of clear thinking and sacrifice, and truly heroic, if that word is to have any meaning. What stupidity, then, to avert our eyes and bathe these real people in a penumbra of saccharine holiness that is just another name for our own confusion.
That idiocy aside, obviously not everyone looks away; some stare with feverish intensity. The author of the Slate article linked above wonders why United 93 has been the subject of three movies, while the extravagant heroism of the NYC firefighters and cops running into the burning WTC has not been celebrated, or at least dramatized, nearly so much. He waffles and gropes for an answer, but the answer is simple. Because in a movie about flight 93, we get to see an American attack an actual Al Qaeda member and beat him to death with a fire extingusher, or something. And this is not surprising. There they are. No ghosts of Tora Bora, no grinning phantom Zarqawi and his regenerating leg, there they are, right there, standing by the cockpit door, the ones that did it, that made me this afraid, that made me this sick, this confused, this displaced from my former understanding. Kill that motherfucker! Kill him!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
1. Spring, 2003: In the wake of the US invasion, flatbed trailers carrying complex mechanical equipment are found in the desert. These trailers jibe with descriptions of mobile bioweapons labs described by Iraqi expat "Curveball" and referred to by Colin Powell in his speech to the UN.
2. April, 2003: Military experts look at photos of the trailers. They state that they believe the trailers are bioweapons factories. Other experts in government disagree.
3. Early May, 2003: The Defense Intelligence Agency convenes a team of nongovernmental subject matter experts to go to Iraq, study the trailers, and resolve the controversy.
4. Early May, 2003: These experts go, and within 4 hours they all are completely convinced that the trailers have nothing to do with bioweapons, nor could they be converted to such use. "It would be easier to start all over with just a bucket." says one member of the team.
5. May 27, 2003: The team's report expressing these conclusions is forwarded to the White House.
6. May 29, 2003: Bush proclaims that the trailers had been found to be mobile "biological laboratories." "We have found the weapons of mass destruction, " he declares.
7. 2003-2004: For the next year, despite the DIA's report, the President, Cheney, and multiple other White House personnel continue to claim that the trailers were found to be bioweapons factories.
8. April 12, 2006: I read the article narrating these events and am in no way surprised.
UPDATE - point 3 corrected (all of the experts were non-governmental civilians).
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Delay gone. I don't have much to say except "good." I won't get into the current nonsense about how he quit because the race was getting too "nasssty," But one thing really caught my eye in all the hue and cry. Today, Digby posted without comment a year-old "Open Letter to Conservatives" from lifelong Republican fixer Morton C. Blackwell, a board member of the American Conservative Union. The letter is from March of '05, at the height of DeLay's righteous self-defense. The letter is both a shameless paean to Delay, and a headlong attack on the traditional wingnut bugaboos, "the leftist organizations and liberal media."
Blackwell said that DeLay is "upright and innocent," and all of the allegations against him are lies, spread by "vicious" and "unscrupulous" leftists and their media puppets, who are just "re-hashing the same foggy complaints," motivated only by their "burning hatred of a good man." The letter is a call for conservatives to rise up against the leftists, in a massive protest campaign supporting DeLay.
But this is all par for the course, and not at all surprising.
What is really classic about this is the final paragraph, which I quote here:
Please don't get bogged down answering all the absurd, groundless attacks. The left can and will raise phony new issues faster than you can respond to the old ones. Congressman DeLay has fully and publicly dealt with these false or nit-picky issues.
In other words, don't bother learning enough about the allegations to rebut them, loyal soldiers. If the allegations seem credible, it's just more lies, and the left are too slick for you to keep up with their forked tongues. Just trust me that everything has been taken care of, the Congressman has fully responded to all the allegations (but you don't need to know what he said). Just call your congressman and tell them you want them to support Tom DeLay.
Blackwell is a lifelong party man, from Goldwater on, and has spent his life in politics; he is neither a grassroots zealot or a wide-eyed hagiographer. He is a fixer, whose job it has always been to keep the troops dumb and angry. And this is just perfect, as Tom Delay has made his life exploiting the dumb and angry. They are two Elmer Gantrys, Blackwell puffing up DeLay, DeLay filling the coffers of the party Blackwell is paid to run. All the while, preaching, preaching, preaching, preeaching, never losing that moralistic whine.
These dead-eyed hypocrites are rotting our country away from the inside, and I am delighted to see one of the main tumors respond to the fucking chemo.