It is getting harder and harder to believe that September, 11, 2001 was, well, almost NINE YEARS AGO. To hear our politicians speak, you’d think it was last week. We’ve grown accustomed to onerous waits and pointless hoop-jumping in airports, endless and expanding wars all over the globe, militarized policing, the mainstreaming of torture, and even sacrificing prosperity at home to pay for it all, but you’d think we’d have a hard time keeping the fear going after so much time, considering our notoriously short national attention span. Nearly twice as many Americans have been killed in the resulting wars, and every major city in the country would love to see a few million square feet of empty space vaporized, if only to drive down exploding vacancy rates. Osama Bin Laden’s goal, if you’ll remember, was to destroy us by provoking just the sort of wanton overreaction we provided, and he succeeded, and has now been able to turn his attentions to environmental concerns, since the U.S. is circling the drain more dramatically than in his wildest hopes. He’s moved on; we haven’t.
The reason for this curious obsession with the past in a culture that can’t remember what happened yesterday is that “The War on Terror” was never anything more than a business plan, and its investors set it up to be a long-term thing. The much feared “Peace Dividend” after the collapse of our only conceivably threatening “enemy,” the Soviet Union, simply had to be eliminated, if the prerogatives of the Imperial Presidency were to remain…. secrecy, ever-expanding government power, black budgets, and a lot taxpayer money to spend as one wished. In peacetime, people do expect that they taxes they pay to the government will return as benefits, they are uncomfortable with the secrecy and violent tendencies of an overbearing government, and worse, they also might even respect the patriotism of dissent and stand for constitutional principles on occasion. What righty could put up with that? The Soviet Evil Empire had to be replaced with something grossly inflated to become “Islamofascism,” and in their more lurid fantasies, a “Caliphate’” in which Ay-rabs would screw all of our dames and then make ‘em wear head scarves. Really. A lot of Fox News watchers believe this to this day. Turbans are much scarier than those fur things those Russkies wore, too, so what the hell?
The absurd thinness of the arguments that support treating September 11 as though it were the Holocaust (except in this holocaust, the Jews won afterward and spent their lives putting a can of whoop-ass on anybody who looked like a Nazi…) ought to discredit them so thoroughly that they would have no place in public discourse, but there they are, nine long and miserable years later. The same people that led us into our current losing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan now have their greedy eyes on Iran, and the gasbags on television just sit there, listen, and pretend that these people aren’t crazy. Of course, since almost all of the gasbags cheered for the wars themselves, this is easier to do for them than it is for you, the viewer, who thought they were all nuts the whole time.
FOX has found its niche in all of this; Nixon once calculated that he had 30% of America no matter what he did… the “don’t confuse me with the facts” crowd was his “base,” and now his former campaigner, Roger Ailes, sells them dentures, gold, and golf estates as the ratings skyrocket. The rest of the MSM, not so much. You see, some, not all, news watchers might want to watch something that isn’t utter horseshit, for which they would obviously choose FOX anyway, but no media outlet wanted to be the only one so doing, so all of the TV Networks and newspapers except Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) seem to have tossed up their hands, donned their flak jackets and said, “Let’s go with the horseshit.”
History, unlike television careers, is important, and it moves along. If Roger Ailes’ repulsive mug belching tinny Bushisms and shopworn fearmongering doesn’t shame the rest of the MSM to start calling such vermin out on their lies, nothing else will. His comments were worse than mere lies, they were old, tired lies that got voted off the island in 2005, as even the stupidest bobblehead ought to have seen that. Lies are like ties; you shouldn’t be caught in an old one. But caught they were, and although they’d looked smashing in “everybody else was fooled, too,” and even “that’s old news ” looked good in the right lighting, “Gee, look at this crazy person we’ve been believing all this time; let’s go to commercial” wasn’t very flattering at all.
The crisis of the News Media, and the resulting crisis of our democracy, is that there is no competing with FOX, and because the rest of our media missed this fact at a pretty crucial moment, Osama can worry about glaciers melting now, which is a good thing, because we can’t be bothered. Too many other problems.