by Jan Baughman
(Swans - August 27, 2007) You get really tired of hearing how "9/11 changed everything," because you know it didn't. It wasn't a single, defining moment as in what they say Armageddon will be, when the world snaps and turns against the wrong sort of Americans, not to mention all of the others hanging with the wrong crowd. Rather, it was a ratcheting-up of an ongoing, smoldering battle of ideals, most of which you know little about since it hadn't hit close to home, at least in the sense that you're not familiar with US Middle East policy and preservation of our vital interests, for example. And who amongst you ever did, let alone still does, talk about where you were when the USS Cole was attacked? (As a matter of fact, Swans co-editors distinctly recall, because they were in New England on what was their last "real" vacation, which was a quote-unquote vacation because Swans was still published. But I digress... The point I'm trying to make is, when you say "9/11 changed everything," you're saying that suddenly you opened your eyes to a slightly larger world but with a narrower view, put a Support the Troops bumper sticker on your car, raised a flag on your house, joined the war cries for vengeance, and handed over your Constitution, which also happens to have once belonged to the rest of us.
It's actually okay when they, the leaders, say that 9/11 changed everything (and it's now the litmus mantra for wannabe presidents) -- you just wish for once they'd say it correctly: "We made 9/11 change everything." If only we could time-travel through Wikipedia to see how the future will view this slow and tortured death of Democracy, assuming the future Wikipedia exists outside the control of CIA and FBI propagandists.
So what's a good contrarian, secular, pro-civil rights, non-terrorist simpleton to do in this less-than-new, more-than-frightening post-9/11 world? What any good contrarian would do -- speak out! Except, you can't afford the permits required to protest with a few of your friends, though you can try to put antiwar-rally posters around to let people know about the upcoming event. But if you use the wrong glue, you can face a $10,000 fine, which you probably can't afford because the government has already bankrupted you through income stagflation, and regressive taxes, and increasing health care costs that we all have to absorb because the military budget is sucking the life out of everything else. That little anti-Iraq-War donation or statement you made branded you an insurgent, and any savings you may have had were seized and added to the war coffers -- an ingenious win-win solution that keeps you weak and them strong. It goes without saying that you can't afford a lawyer; doesn't matter, since the lawyers can't know what you were charged with because if they did, they might be able to defend you... Meantime, death penalties will be fast-tracked when the Attorney General takes such decision-making authority over federal judges; but not to worry, you're in good hands with Al Gonzales. He simply wants to get rid of the bad seeds faster, before they take root and spread. You know, to protect the American people...
I mean, increased propaganda, limits to speech, limits to protest, seizing of assets, increased executions -- why, it's enough to make you think of, heaven forbid, it can't happen here -- Martial Law! If 9/11 changed everything, then what horrible deed can change everything even more?!?
Well, maybe nothing horrendous would be required, in the way we tend to visualize horrendous. No hijacked planes slicing through buildings, no mushroom clouds frying us, no biological weapons infiltrating us. Perhaps just -- and I chose "just" intentionally -- a flood here, a fire there, an earthquake west, a heat wave north, a hurricane south, floods in the middle. Then, thousands homeless, widespread power outages, businesses impacted by the lack of workers and consumers (remember the economic impact of 9/11, before we even set about bankrupting our country with war?) and it is readily apparent that the National Guard can't handle it all, and the states don't have the budget surpluses necessary to respond to the disasters, so just to keep the country working in a coordinated manner, we'll bring in our friendly National Continuity Coordinator, and quietly give full power to the president's office, et voilà -- martial law!
Then, with martial law imposed and FEMA in place as the fourth branch of government, a strategic program will be rolled out to pacify the populace through federally-trained clergy who will help us to be a good flock of sheep and accept the direction of our leaders. It's enough to make you say, Holy Shit, my America has become a theocracy, and I need to take it back, now! But by then, about all you have left to do is pray...
I recently heard Julia Butterfly Hill say that Truth + Hope = Action = Change.
With the continued obfuscation of Truth, and the barriers placed between us and Action, it looks like we need to find ways to Keep Hope Alive. Because it can happen here, right under our very noses...
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