ESSAY IN PROGRESS
In Supporting America, I am...
WASHINGTON, DC - I received this bit of vitriolic kneejerk today from New Zealand when an ordinarily fine fellow from Aotearoa wrote:
"First - there is no evidence whatsoever that Bin Laden was involved in the WTC and Pentagon attacks - none. Secondly even if there was conclusive evidence he was guilty of funding the attacks so what? Do you see the US bombing Holland until their government hand over the Shell board for financing the ongoing massacre of the Ogoni people in Nigeria? Thirdly if it was justified to kill innocent people to punish 'terrorists' then whoever WAS behind the S-11 attacks did nothing wrong - if 6000 is exponentially more than 6, how much more is the 600,000 or more the US have killed in the various low-intensity wars they have brewed up in the Middle East to bring pro-US regimes to power and secure corporate oil interests?
"Fourthly, there is no evidence that Bin Laden remains in Afghanistan or even that ANYONE involved in the S-11 attacks was of Afghani origin. In what way does blowing up radio stations, villages, power plants, food and medical supplies constitute self-defence on the part of the US military? Clearly this is the latest installment in a continuing series of geo-political natural resource wars that included the bombing of Serbia to secure the oil pipeline through Kosovo and destroy Serbian infrastructure so they would be forced to take out World Bank loans and bow to the 'structural adjustment' demands of the IMF. No doubt Afghanistan will be next once an Afghani vanguard with their tongue far enough up Bush's ass can be found.
Finally there is no 'war against terrorism'. The Kosovo Liberation Army are but one example of the US-friendly terrorists that are armed and trained by US agents, the Northen Alliance in Afganistan looks to be another. Then there is the Israeli military..."
I had no choice but to reply...
In supporting America, I am not going quietly into this good night. Rhetoric is a way of ordering one's values - organizing our hearts and just perhaps, our minds, while there is almost always a gap between our VALUES and our ability to amply REALIZE them. Does this mean one should abandon these values altogether in the face of an enemy that vigorously despises them, has declared war on them, calling for others to join him in this war, and has acted systematically according to his own genius for more than a decade with all the power he can squeeze into his rhetoric and organizational choices? Such is the taste of folly in rhetoric, and such are the tribal and dialectical lines drawn in the war of choices, and the war by power. There are always liars and thieves lurking in dark spaces, assassins on the prowl.
Then there are those liars and thieves in the opposition always seeking to destroy and oppress simply out the deceit or envy, hecklers consumed by schadenfraude and malicious matriculation. And yes, sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace. Just how clean, or free of taint among these cultural sins do you feel right about now? I ask you sir for your honest response, but only in general terms for I certainly am in no position to judge or haunt you, as you recline in the muster of beautiful New Zealand or Aotearoa, with its own rather remote history, ambitions, and consecration of earthly powers. A paradise, I hear, a voice in the wilderness maybe, a model for the future of the world, let's hope so, perhaps, but no beacon of light for today's very real crisis.
First of all, although I find no evidence or authoritative intelligence on YOUR PART contradicting the fact that Osama bin Laden has indeed already provided much fertile and unabashed evidence FROM HIS OWN MOUTH that he is without doubt, at minimum, the prime suspect and religious jihad figurehead in charge of these most recent attacks on American tasks. I have at least SEEN and REMEMBERED at face value certain videotapes (admittedly dubbed from the Saudi's original tongue) where the man has declared war on the US and Israel. Have you not? Other proclamations of similar ilk, dating back through the mid-to-late 1990s, confirm these latest bits of evidence you seem to dismiss, no doubt as doctored or righteous resolve given the circumstances of certain American policies you obviously loathe. All of this is tucked into the nice comfy package where bin Laden voices his disgust that Americans, as vulgar foreigners and infidels, dared sully holy Saudi land with their presence during the Gulf War with Iraq, and must pay for that encroachment, and be driven out of the Middle East forever.
War is rot, and from the very moment I first heard about the 1991 Gulf War invasion on the radio as I was driving home from work, I rejected the "protecting Kuwaiti" explanation, dissenting hard and loud to all who crossed my path about this "outright lie" by the official ranks until some two weeks later when the Defense Department finally confessed the oil connection, proving my original suspicions. But recent attacks, particular this latest atrocity, on American resources is no incidental flareup of ancient rivalries, or simple blood for oil initiative.
Rhetoric is a dual-edged tool of those who would organize our hearts and values for their own purposes, purposes those who would organize even try to hide from themselves. The conflation of the free exercise of will (freedom) with economics, an alliance and mantle of self-evidence that is rightly often assumed by our political and business leaders is an excellent example, simply because the economic system in question has historically functioned by undermining the freedom of a significant proportion of the people. This conflation is a lie, of course, a contradiction, and one only supported by hardline libertarians. We must admit that the pursuit of freedom and absolute liberty are plagued by many paradoxes, not least among them that liberty must observe limits when it invariably banks up against the aspiring liberty of others. So let us not dally just now with clever postures of rhetoric, thinking in them we might prove a point.
Churchill believed that German fascism represented a greater threat to world peace and civilization than Italian fascism - which, given the performance of Mussolini and his military in WWII, must be considered a wise judgment. To the last moment he hoped to seduce Mussolini out of Hitler's orbit, and made many overtures cast in tones of appeasement to bring this about. That's because he was a realist, not a modern progressive, who is always willing to sacrifice achievable good in favor of unachievable perfection. Churchill also had episodes of shameful brutality, advocating irrational revenge against the enemies of civilized life. To set these things against his larger achievements - basically the salvation of civilized life in his time -- as though they somehow equal or vitiate them, is to reject the good in favor of the perfect . . . a lovely idea, but not suited to the particular planet which we happen to inhabit. But dream on, Mr. Stripey - who could blame you? Reality is very difficult to deal with these days. Again, if you believe the West is the greatest threat, and that the world will be a better place in a hundred years under Chinese or Islamic rule, then no arguments I make will win the day.
A recent lecture by Noam Chomsky was broadcast on a local public access channel here. It was available for viewing by millions, but I can't imagine that more than a handful of people could have endured more then five minutes of it. Chomsky is clearly a well-educated, sincere, but unbalanced individual, an intelligent man totally out of touch with the reality of what's at stake here - like one of those brilliant conspiracy theorists who collect facts about the Kennedy assassination and interpret them to suit whatever end result they prefer that hour. It is more than intellectual and moral complacency - it is a total collapse of rationality in pursuit of an idee fixe, very much akin to religious fundamentalism. Chomsky basically takes the implicit position that the Taliban represents a legitimate nation state, a member in good standing of the community of nations, and proceeded to revile and castigate the United States for not treating it as such. This position is hardly worthy of rational criticism.
Why does anyone find this sort of abrasive logic compelling?
Chomsky is, after all, regularly published in national leftist media, and many progressives admire him. I don't know what the answer is - but clearly there is some pathology at work here which is worth exploring, some psychic wound in Chomsky and his followers which permits them to abandon reason in order to confirm a fundamental "insight" - that Western civilization, in its present incarnation, is evil, and that every force which stands in opposition to Western civilization, even a vile entity like the Taliban, is worthy of respect on some level. I will agree that the West needs to re-examine many of its homeland and international policies, but this will always be the case until time itself ceases to exist, and the corrective political forces must continue to work and win these social and environmental adjustments. But neither the world revolution of some neo-Marxist lunatics nor the submission to the flowing robes of Allah appeal to me at this time. Look around you, what other civilization would you prefer? Where are your ideas that climb the trellis of today into the future of great expectations?
Any theories out there besides the Book of Revelation? Everyone knows, no self-respecting leftist would admit to a belief in God, or that particular Abrahamic God, or the devil, or any final day of judgement, but these same folks will tolerate an Islamic viewpoint merely to appease the enemy and "appear" righteous for the moment. As for me, I would rather live and die in a decadent west than reign in an oppressive Muslim regime (which of course is not my birthright). And right now, walking away from this fight with the Islamists is tantamount to automated suicide, for the radical Muslims obviously want a fight. Why? Because they desire religious apotheosis, and how better to win converts than to defeat the Great Satan, right or wrong. It's all about knowing in what historical moment one is living. This is not 1941, 1066, or 2355. But September 11, 2001 was not just another day in the life of Goliath the American Brutus. America is indeed being tested. Time will tell whether or not we pass the test, or are judged unto ruin in the quickest fall from grace of any empire in recent history. September 11 was a wake-up call, not to run away, and close one's eyes and ears, but a call to plot a proper course, and that course is unfortunately unable to take us straight to peace without a few crucifixions along the way.
The Year 2002 is what I might call the Year of the Mirror. Will America fall in love with itself, or will it undergo correction. As an American, I cannot sit around and hope bin Laden wins, and buys Saddam Hussein more TIME and ARSENALS to strike us again. As for Israel, I think it would be great if they just left that godforsaken stretch of sand for American shores, but they seem prepared to go all the way with something called the Samson Option up their sleeves, ready if necessary to blow the whole MIddle East up than give up that godforsken piece of turf. No, I do not understand this attachment to worthless land, but I understand the history of the Jews, and what they mean to the world in terms of culture and intelligence. These are details I can't change no matter how superior my personal ethics or motives might pretend to be, no matter how long or how tight I close my eyes and wish upon a star, no matter how many miles I stomp the pavement, waving some banner tis of thee.
I too believe, and eagerly share my "insight" with any in my path that the bombing of Afghanistan needs to stop on these very same moral grounds. If America is militarily afraid of a ground war, afraid to suffer loses in the good battle, America will lose, and the whole planet will lose perhaps its very birthright as a result because many great and terrible destructions will follow if capitulation allows Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida to inspire the day.
Washington DC is home to some 30-70,000 Afghan refugees according to the Washington Post. Many vocal leaders of this immigrant community, male and female, know and describe in seething terms the Taliban government for what it is, and no well-protected peacenik stumping from the heartstrings flung far outside the loop is capable of distorting my mind on the severity of our own present times. The Taliban has offered many declarations of war chatter, and make claims in bin Laden's defense and of his status, and certainly share in his guilt. This is a very real war, plain and simple, declared and accepted. I despise it, but I cannot wish it away with a thousand well-selected words by thinking that these radical assassins who have infiltrated the west for the express purpose of toppling it, will simply lose interest given their strategies while the radical Left in the West continues to fiddle and belittle the hard-won freedoms they still fortunately possess. We may agree that there are many things wrong in this culture, but giving up the ghost of earlier promises without a fight is just plain nonsense.
Alarmist or not, I must not smother my humble streetwise opinion, that if, or when this revived Roman Empire collapses in ruin, odds are extremely high that we can kiss goodbye all these beautiful lands, far and near, scorched and flooded, incited by a world wide calamity only a FEW million will survive, and miserably at that. Then perhaps you can blame the Jews. Einstein and Oppenheimer. Then perhaps you can blame America, host country of Einstein and Oppenheimer. But pray tell, if young men strapped to a bomb or a plane can hurl themselves into a crowd of women, children and countrymen alike, and not offend you, why should you be offended if a whole nation straps itself to a nuclear device and detonates? The oscillating air of despair that will allow for a madness of this kind surely has no bounds, and if you have no fear of this, I can suppose that you must not live on the coast of NZ, but live high in the mountains, and take pride in geography just like those you would deride. After all, one device detonated over an ice cap would submerge many of the world's great populations, and retaliation would soon follow, am I not correct?
My friend, we are all guilty of crimes against humanity, and between you and me, our feeble personal opinions don't change a thing, decked out in our pretty ribbons and boot straps, moccasins and halos, banging other rants with all our computers and our carts with all our hopes and our thrills. Too many people with an attitude to disrupt, too many agitators with nothing better to do, gutsy to a shivering degree, lazy, selfish, oppressive, blind, and silly.
Sad, isn't it? Humanity is governed by faith, fate, and the clumsy dynamics of sheer force. A numbers game no matter how delicately one slices it. I just this morning returned to my apartment in DC after driving 1300 miles in three days for an afternoon family reunion to visit the folks who knew me as a child, the majority I haven't seen in 25 years. I would like to repeat myself next year, or perhaps take a bus, or a fast rail that doesn't exist in this proud but doped up on fossil fuels nation that certainly is begging for change. With the self-defeating way my Lefty neighbors in this petty kneejerk corner of the world think, I may never get the chance.
And lastly, why don't we try asking the whole world without exception to simply beat their swords and weapons into ploughshares. Let's say by September 11, 2004? Do you think anybody would even hear us, even those who bought them from American companies, sell us oil, trade in American sawbucks but get offended if an American does what, opens a beefy burger joint on a sand dune? Now THAT'S a change I would like to see in my lifetime. No weaponry stronger than a 300 pound bully with a plastic fork. Now don't forget to call me an idealist...
November 5, 2001
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