Against Jingoism

American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...
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I just wanted to note that I have very little to say about the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and  I will not be joining in the collective breast-beating. Just like I was not dancing in the streets after we killed bin Laden. I find myself unable to listen to the radio or watch TV news this weekend. I will be glad to wake up on 09/12/11, when there will be no further opportunities for 10th anniversary observances. To my way of thinking, most aspects of the American response to the Twin Towers disaster have represented us at our worst. We should be bowing our heads in shame, not grief and solidarity.

Oh, and, while there were of course heroes among the fallen that day, there were by no means 3,000 of them. Most who died on 9/11 were simply victims, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being a victim does not in itself qualify anyone for heroism.

And, please, will the media please stop profiling the melodrama of those who lost loved ones that day as if they have suffered uniquely, when there are so many families grieving the tragic losses of loved ones in a myriad of other calamitous accidents or violent crimes? How in the world can the families of 9/11 victims ever mourn adequately under these circumstances?

On a related (anti-chauvinistic) note, I’m with these guys. And with her.


Robert Klitzman: The Uses and Misuses of 9/11, The Nation

Why I’m Not Jubilant

MIAMI, FL - MAY 02:  Bob Kunst holds a sign th...

Although there was no tone of triumphalism in Pres. Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s killing,  there certainly was in the rejoicing in the streets. Very much like I saw in the streets around here after the Red Sox won the World Series or the Patriots the Super Bowl. But there’s no blowback for gloating then; all that we have done in concluding this chapter in this manner has been to perpetuate the arrogant unilateral projection of power for which 9-11 was blowback in the first place.

There does not seem to be any indication that there was an attempt to take bin Laden into custody alive and bring him to justice rather than assassinating him. In fact, indications are that Pres. Obama considered bombing the compound rather than storming it and that the decision hinged only on the capability of recovering bin Laden’s body.

What is at stake in how we react to this is the perpetuation of our use of the war on terror as an excuse to continue to do whatever we want in the world. There has been much talk about the potential short-term risk of retaliation.But can’t you imagine that this confirmation of American hegemonism may in fact lead to a long-term exacerbation rather than an alleviation of terrorist activity?
Bin Laden’s death has very little strategic significance but is rather being played for its symbolic value. He was not germane to the conduct of most terrorist actions around the world. Al Qaeda has never been a structured organization so much as a cluster of affiliates operating independently, without central planning, united only by sharing jihadist ends.

The rejoicing in the streets reminded me of nothing so much as the
barbarity of anti-American mob scenes that have perennially graced the
evening news reports, including the scenes of jubilation at various places around the world when the Twin Towers came down.

Kristallnacht, Revisited

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United S...

Jim MacDonald writes at Making Light: ‘Today, at CNN. The story is called “House Democrats report increased threats since health care vote.”

An Alabama-based blog, called “Sipsey Street Irregulars,” says it has launched a so-called “window war” against Democrats and has kept a tally of the recent incidents of damage, including ones in New York and Kansas.

Blogger Michael B. Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama, said Monday that in a Friday blog, he called for people to break windows at Democratic headquarters at the city and county level. He said he didn’t call for the damages to congressional offices because, “I didn’t want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law.”

However, “I can understand how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman’s window,” Vanderboegh said. He said he feels the health care bill is “unconstitutional and tyrannical.”

“My answer is violence, by getting their attention,” he said, adding, “If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that’s a good thing.”

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. I do wonder what the Homeland Security folks are doing about these guys. (Probably nothing, since they aren’t named Mohammad, don’t dress funny, and aren’t brown.)

There’s another name for what the Tea Baggers are doing. I’m waiting for a group of them to get together in a beer hall to install the Permanent Republican Majority.’

The Wages of Hate

‘ Like Scott Roeder, the man charged in the shooting of the Wichita, Kan., doctor George Tiller nearly two weeks ago, James von Brunn, the white supremacist charged with killing a guard in an attempted shooting rampage at the Holocaust museum in Washington on Wednesday, doesn’t have any current, overt links to extremist groups. Yet his violent hatred — of Jews, blacks, the government — echoes throughout the universe of right-wing extremists, who just a few years ago hailed and revered him as a “White Racialist Treasure.” ‘ — Judith Warner (New York Times)

From the get-go, media coverage of the Holocaust Museum shooting dwelled on the terms ‘lone gunman’ and ‘acted alone’, but in an information-immersed world one has to realize that that has little meaning. Earlier today, there was an extensive discussion thread lionizing von Brunn on the Storm Front website, but access is now denied to outsiders without a login. (One commenter lauded von Brunn’s action by saying that the real terrorism is the indoctrination of Americans into the myth of the Holocaust. Imagining that the Holocaust Museum will now be closed to school groups, the writer observed taht now the indoctrination will be less successful and pervasive because it will be restricted to adults.)

Can right-wing hate talk lead to murder?

“I was on Hardball today talking about the climate of extreme right-wing rhetoric today, and whether it had anything to do with Wednesday's tragic shooting at Washington's Holocaust Museum, or the May 31 murder of Dr. George Tiller by an antiabortion crackpot.

I tried to choose my words carefully. Unless it's shown that either man had accomplices, we have to be clear that the men responsible for those murders are the ones who pulled the trigger. Still, it's hard not to think about the extreme right-wing rhetoric, especially about Barack Obama, and whether it could conceivably lead to more right-wing violence.” Can right-wing hate talk lead to murder? – Joan Walsh (Salon)

Montana town requests that U.S. government send 100 Gitmo detainees to its prison.


‘A frequent attack on the closure of Guantanamo is the claim that no one in the U.S. wants detainees housed in their backyard. Last Sunday, Dick Cheney remarked, “I don’t know a single congressional district in this country that is going to say, gee, great, they’re sending us 20 Al Qaida terrorists.” But Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports that the town of Hardin, MT is requesting that 100 detainees be sent to its empty prison…(Think Progress)

Aircraft could be brought down by DIY ‘E-bombs’

Airbus A380

“Electromagnetic pulse weapons capable of frying the electronics in civil airliners can be built using information and components available on the net, warn counterterrorism analysts. All it would take to bring a plane down would be a single but highly energetic microwave radio pulse blasted from a device inside a plane, or on the ground and trained at an aircraft coming in to land.” via New Scientist.