Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

It is good to remember disasters such as this. It would be better to remember them with dignity, mourning the dead, reaffirming our community - that would be nice. But that gets harder all the time. I am increasingly depressed by the commemoration of the September 11th attacks - the current "controversy" about the "ground zero" "mosque" and the jerk in Florida promising to burn Korans brings cynical exploitation of the attacks to a new level of awfulness. (Though I suppose even that can't really compete with the government's use of the attacks to justify the invasion of Iraq...) A significant portion of the country seems determined almost to celebrate the attacks - what is that cretin Sarah Palin and her snake oil salesman pal Glen Beck up to today? Though it's not the noise and flag-waving that bothers me so much - it is the attempts to turn the memory of the attacks into an excuse for bigotry. Racism, xenophobia, bigotry have become more and more open and explicit through this decade - especially since the GOP got ousted from government - they don't have anything to run on except racism and bigotry...

Though even that pales beside stories like this, of a court upholding the government - well: I have to quote:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information.
This is not good. Basically the government claims that people who claim to have been arrested and extradited to other countries where they were tortured cannot sue (anyone?), because the lawsuit would expose state secrets. This is a very bad thing - it is another step in the normalization of the use of torture by the United States - in all the illegal and immoral behavior we have engaged in during the "war on terror." I am losing hope - it may be too much to expect American politiciams to actually hold someone in government responsible for their wrong doing, but it would be nice to see President Obama and the Democrats take some tangible steps to repudiate the worst policies of the Bush years. The use of torture - but also, the limitless executive. The latter maybe more than the former - as the claims of the government being beyond the law justifies the former as well.

Ah, Civil Liberties.... what a quaint idea. It is strange - even now, I sometimes see cops on the subway, searching people - for now reason except that they can. It's depressing - the impression I get sometimes is that since 9/11, we as a country have been completely discombobulated because we couldn't find anyone to surrender to. Bin Laden is off in a cave somewhere (still is, as far as anyone knows - post 9/11 wars both turning into complete failures), we can't surrender to him. AT home, it looks like the Republicans finally surrendered tot heir usual masters, Citibank and the CIA. The Democrats seem to have surrendered to the Republicans, though now, being back in power, that doesn't work so well. Though I guess they can surrender to citibank and the CIA just as well... And - for all the wickedness of the Koran burners and Park51 protesters, there is something that sits wrong in the idea that we in the USA are supposed to decide which of our constitutional rights we exercise depending on what might offend some son of a bitch off in Afghanistan. Now - this stuff, the koran burning and all - is evil - racist, bigoted, and - Godwin's law be damned - almost definitively fascist - and should be condemned for those reasons. But there are undoubtedly a lot of things that might piss off some SOB in Afghanistan or Tehran- you know, Salman Rushdie back in the day, and plenty more like him - and there is no reason we should set our behavior according to what terrorists might think or do. I don't like those arguments at all (except as pure tactics: Petraeus weighing in on the Koran burning definitely seems to have tipped even the racists against the Florida guy - that's worth something...)

Oh well. This is my political rant for the year. I don't have much more to say - frankly, I have little hope for the country. We've proven our weakness and irresponsibility over and over, and nothing seems to be changing. All this is a bit ironic, as socially, we seem to continue to grow up (Don't Ask, Don't Tell, struck down by a court...) - but we seem to be economically paralyzed, unable and unwilling to address our problems... and politically, we seem determined to slide into either tyranny or anarchy, or maybe a mix of the worst of both.

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