Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Post 9/11 syndrome

Will we ever get rid of the rose-colored glasses about "post 9/11 unity"?

"The first casualty in war is truth," said either Samuel Johnson or Senator Hiram Johnson. l

In his excellent book Wartime, Paul Fussell (a World War II combat veteran and literature professor) writes that critical thinking is a casualty of war. It has certainly been a casualty of our undeclared and semi-metaphorical post-9/11 war. For lack of a better explanation, I have to believe this goes far in explaining why George w Bush is even competitive in this presidential race, and why his incompetence on national security issues is overlooked by 48% of the public.

I'll never convince Bush zombies to see that differently. But can I at least entertain some hope that clear-thinking people will one day stop mouthing these dewy-eyed pieties about how "our nation came together" after 9/11? I heard it again tonight on The Daily Show from its guest, former Senator Bob Kerrey.

I was right here when it happened, and it was only three years ago, so I remember it well. Don't get me wrong – we were all united in our horror of the attack on the World Trade Center and our sympathy for the victims.

But I also remember how the Bush administration almost immediately began exploiting the situation to impose a highly partisan, pre-conceived agenda, including the USA PATRIOT Act (a package of proposals on the right-wing law enforcement wish list long before 9/11), a renewed push for drilling in the Alaskan wilderness (on the pre-9/11 Bush oil-buddy wish list), and of course the invasion of Iraq (on the right-wing neo-con foreign policy wish list before 9/11). I remember the Bush administration's military order that called for secret military tribunals and led to the unjustified detention of hundreds of people. I remember a climate of fear of dissent, in which Democratic lawmakers seemed incapable of opposing the administration, and anyone who did was shouted down as unpatriotic -- or, in Ann Coulter's words, treasonous.

It's bad enough when our national version of Alzheimers causes so many of our compatriots to forget the Bush administrations maladministration or to recall Ronald Reagan as a "great president." But can we please not confuse the repressive post 9/11 political atmosphere with political unity?

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