-- Laminated sign in airport security office
I wrote this in my journal on September 10, 2001 -- at 8:30 am according to my scrawl. I was obtaining my security credentials for my new job in Nashville International Airport -- which I could already tell was going to suck. The background check sucked. The drug test at the creepy outpatient clinic sucked. And now, this motivational poster sucked on general principles. Motivational office art already terrifies me, and this one was journal-worthy as the subtext clearly reads: "people will support the reality they create"
I considered my own graphic treatment:
The next day was September 11 and we've been co-creating a reality not of our choosing ever since.
On television the night of the attacks, we saw a ritual of reality-creation that echoed my feelings about the poster. On the Capital steps, Congressional Republicans and Democrats linked arms and sang "God Bless America." They could have sang any patriotic anthem (the Star Spangled Banner would have more sense with it's reference to battle); they could have stood in silent reflection; but they chose "GOD BLESS AMERICA." It seemed vulgar. We're a nation of laws, and this attack was already identified as originating from an Islamic country The last thing we needed to do was call upon Christian idols in fear and anger.
Predictably, the attacks sent us headlong into an identity crisis. As we re-thought who we are, the Republicans staged the first battles in a new culture war. The creepy motivational poster extols the "usefulness" of co-created reality. On the Capital steps our leaders participated in a reality-producing ritual that in hindsight seems like a shotgun wedding between Republicans and Democrats to give a name to their illegitimate child -- the Iraq War.
A cable news anchor introduced the spectacle as "a remarkable tableau of party unity. Hastert took the mic:
Said Hastert: "we will stand together to make sure that those who brought forth this evil deed will pay the price... We're not sure who this is yet. But we have our suspicons and... when those suspcions are justified we will act. We will stand with the president.
Daschle takes the mic:
Said Daschle: "Today's desipicable acts were an assault on our people and on our freedom.... And we will speak with one voice to condemn these attacks... (and)... To commit our full support to the effort to bring those responsible to justice. We... stand strongly united behind the president and will work together to ensure the full resources of the government are brought to bear in these efforts."
In normal reality, these statements would have sparked a national debate. Their difference in tone portends the assault on democracy that has brought us to our "impeachment moment." Hastert's all geared up to "avenge evil." Daschle calls for the perpetrators to be "brought to justice." The hegemon has already thrown down the gauntlet. The loyal opposition squeaks "we have the flag, we will not let it touch the ground." The first words spoken in our time of crisis signal a giant "democracy gap."
A month later Daschle's office would be attacked with "weaponized anthrax" and that "democracy gap" scabbed over with Republican talking points.
As a matter of fact, no sooner had Congress began to negotiate Daschle's and Hastert's "democracy gap" that the first set of anthrax-laced letters appeared. On September 13 "a number of anti-terrorism bills were introduced into Congress. The first anthrax letter was sent to major US media on September 18 -- just five days after the first bill was introduced. You have to imagine hard-liners received an enormous boost in Congressional negotiations when the threat of biological weapons of mass destruction hit "home."
The first anti-terrorism bill was called Combating Terrorism Act of 2001, and was introduced by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) with Democrat Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Among its proposed measures, it ordered a report on the readiness of the National Guard to pre-emptively disrupt domestic acts of terrorism that used weapons of mass destruction and called for long-term research and development into terrorist attacks. It also called for a review of the authority of Federal agencies to address terrorist acts, proposed a change that would have allowed the CIA to recruit terrorist informants and proposed to allow law enforcement agencies to disclose foreign intelligence that was discovered through wiretaps and other interception methods.
This first bill lays out what will be at stake in our "new reality": pre-emptive war, unitary executive, domestic spying, and the creation of an unending war economy. Also note that the two Democratic Senators responsible for giving Bush his new (torture blind) Attorney General, sponsored this first bill (Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer). Who benefits?
The note attached to this first set of letters addressed to the media read:
THIS IS NEXT
TAKE PENACILIN NOW
DEATH TO AMERICA
DEATH TO ISRAEL
ALLAH IS GREAT
The note addressed to the Democratic leaders read:
YOU CAN NOT STOP US.
WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX.
YOU DIE NOW.
ARE YOU AFRAID?
DEATH TO AMERICA.
DEATH TO ISRAEL.
ALLAH IS GREAT
The notes ask for nothing more than our fear. The terrorists want the media and Democrats to know "you can not stop us." According to the terrorists, the media and the Democrats are a great threat. That's remarkable, because at the same time the Republicans were saying we were "soft on terrorism." You don't see the terrorists attacking Republicans, now do you?
BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION ARE USED IN AN ATTACK ON OUR MEDIA AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERS and Bush had the unmitigated gall to mock the media to their face at their annual dinner of the Radio and Television News Correspondents Association. HE JOKES about "not finding WMDs." The media found WMDs in their mail, for fuck's sake.
In whose version of reality is biologic weapons of mass destruction used against high-profile Americans -- the major media and the United States Congress -- and the investigation is allowed to fester for SIX YEARS without explanation. In whose version of reality does this not signal at least a massive cover-up on the part of the Bush administration? "Those weapons of mass destruction have to be somewhere," said Bush. We agree, sir.
Earlier this year Patrick Leahy commented that government officials may know more about the source of the anthrax than has been disclosed: "I think there are people within our government — certainly from the source of it — who know where it came from. And these people may not have had anything to do with it, but they certainly know where it came from." The anthrax in Daschle's and Leahy's offices was identical in DNA to a strain originating at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Leahy is at least claiming the government knows the source of the anthrax and they aren't coming forward. In whose version of reality is this not clearly a cover-up -- a conspiracy, even.
Six years after the initial shock, with no answer as to who terrorized Congress, "anti-terrorist laws" are becoming MORE aggressive toward citizens, not "terrorists. " We're now being asked to co-create a new reality where there's no such thing as "privacy". This isn't a strategy to combat terrorism, it's page three from a business plan for security company with a no-bid contract. Get the people to accept a new reality where there is no privacy, and "security companies" will feed at the trough for evermore.
Corporate interests are enjoying MORE ability to write legislation and citizens don't even get a seat at the table -- we are ceasing to exist. Our so-called "privacy" is a burden to the security apparatus which apparently has no checks and balances, because even with Democratic control of the House and Senate, the Homeland Security apparatus and the war economy are still calling all the shots.
"Convince the monkeys to build their own cage and they'll call it home."
Here's a motivational poster I'd like to see: It's "one person one vote, not one dollar one vote." I've considered my own graphic treatment:
We need to scream this from the rooftops, metaphorically, of course. Better yet, buy this t-shirt I made, instead.
It's against "this remarkable tableau" that "torture" has become the meme of the day. The national conversation about torture didn't make much sense to me until I realized that torture is terrorism. You become what you behold.
Torture isn't just aimed at the individual in the interrogation cell -- it's broadcast to the whole world in order to send the message that "resistance is futile." Have you ever heard a neo-con object to the discussion of torture? No, they want our torture program to have wide exposure. When torture is employed against innocent individuals with no access to court, lawyers, family, or even the charges against them, the message is "don't get on our radar. Don't speak. Don't move. Don't piss off the wrong warlord, or you'll wind up in a Guantanamo Detainee Camp." Secret prisons, extraordinary rendition (kidnappings), and the establishment of a surveillance state are all forms of terrorism that are aimed directly at us. "You have nothing to worry about, if you're not a terrorist" is a notion as terrifying as the existence of these forms of terror.
Naomi Klein discusses the difficulty of dealing with reality under the stress of shock treatment and relates it to economic and political policy in her book, "The Shock Doctrine." Interestingly, when she puts the two together it's under the heading "Torture As Metaphor" where she writes:
(abridged) ...Torture...is also a metaphor of the shock doctrine's underlying logic. Torture...is a set of techniques designed to put prisoners into a state of deep disorientation in order to ...create violent ruptures in their ability to make sense of the world. ...The goal is "softening-up" ...prisoners are so regressed that they can no longer think rationally or protect their own interests.
The shock doctrine mimics this process precisely, attempting to achieve on a mass scale what torture does one on one in the interrogation cell. The clearest example was the shock of September 11, which, for millions of people exploded "the world that is familiar" and opened up a period of deep disorientation and regression that the Bush administration expertly exploited.
We helped create this reality. Now it's our job to deconstruct it.
We figured that singing "God Bless America" on the Captal steps was no big deal. But is it was a very big deal. As the first words uttered after our collective shock treatment, God Bless America was the renunciation of all our former beliefs. In song we signaled our regression -- the shock treatment was a success -- our status was now a infantile "blank slate." The song blessed our marriage and the Corporate New Deal -- and it was a blessing for the new Homeland Security/military/industrial complex. Private security companies are now another arm of government (the one held behind its back where no one can see).
Our leaders' zombie-like fecklessness in defending the Constitution can be traced back these moments, and it's this social engineering that has Congress regressed to the point of being unable to deal with impeaching the criminals.
"I don‘t know what genius political consultant has advised the Democratic leadership that it‘s a bad idea to spend hours of prime time on the floor of Congress reminding the country that Mr. Eleven-percent approval rating is a bad guy of whom they disprove and whom they would like to see held accountable. It‘s supposed to be Politics 101 that you associate yourself with good things and that you are seen to frequently and rabidly denounce bad things." -- Rachel Maddow on Countdown November 6, 2007
We're waking up from our long national nightmare. We're "saying no" to co-creating the Republican version of reality. Impeachment is the next step in regaining our consciousness as a functioning democracy. There's much more at stake than winning the legal battle impeachment presents. We must get our identity back in order that we may someday get our country back.
Brook Hines (copyright, 2007)
Posted in full with authors permission.