We are six years on from the latest date in American history that will live in infamy, to borrow a phrase from a much better orator and a galactically better president than the Boy Who Would Be King could ever hope to be. And what do we have to show for it?
For the most part, bugger all, that's what.
We have not, to any significant degree, done anything to make this nation or its citizens more secure against further attacks by those who perpetrated those of six years ago. Neither have we done much of anything to detain or dispatch the chief architect of those attacks--a fact of which he took great pains to remind us recently in his latest video.
Instead, we have seen six long years of the politics of fear being exploited in the most blatant and bizarre ways, to advance a cynical agenda that benefits the rich and powerful of one political party--and pretty much screws everybody else. There is virtually nothing the Bush régime has done since 11 September 2001 that has in any way made us safer. Quite the opposite, in fact.
They have lied us into, and bullied other nations to join, an ill-advised war that served no useful purpose and responded to no credible threat to our national security or anyone else's. That war, which we were repeatedly told as this administration was lying its way into it, would be quick and cheap and easy, has turned out to be anything but--as any reasonably intelligent primate could have told any of the flacks pushing the president to get it on in the first place.
We broke off our efforts to track down and punish those who were responsible for 11 September 2001 in order to pursue this never-ending freakish sideshow in Iraq. That sideshow is now draining our treasury, wasting the lives and potential of most of a generation of young men and women, and besmirching our good name--and in consequence, our ability to achieve many far more important goals in world politics that might actually make us safer and more secure, and do far more to combat the forces of global terror.
Instead of doing those things, we've seen a slew of cosmetic measures that seem designed both to reassure frightened American citizens that the Bush régime is in fact doing something to make them safer, but at the same time to make sure those American citizens stay more or less permanently frightened of their own shadows. One has only to make a short plane trip to see that tactic in action. The level of sheer ridiculousness demanded of routine travelers in this country would be farcical under ordinary circumstances. In the present circumstances, its comic aspects are overwhelmed by its criminally negligent cynicism.
We are so busy preparing to counter the last set of terrorist attacks that we have forgotten to do anything about the next wave. Does anyone really believe, for example, that we are any safer because the TSA now makes us take our shoes off to go through security checkpoints, and forbids anyone (well, almost anyone) to carry more than a few ounces of ordinary liquids in their carry-on luggage--and those to be segregated and scanned separately? I surely don't. I also note that the only place in the world where either of those things happens is right here in the U.S. of A.
Moreover, where is it written that only scarybrownpeoplewhoworshipanothergodthanwedo* can be terrorists? (*Yes, I know that Allah is in fact not a different deity, being merely the Arabic word for "God." I could wish anyone in the Orcosphere, from the Pretzelnit on down, were so percipient.) We are so busy discriminating against Muslims and people of color that we forget--or some of us do, anyway--that there are plenty of lily-white, allegedly God-fearing, Republican-voting American terrorists who also want to kill, maim, and blow shit up. What do you want to bet the likelihood of the Department of Homeland Security tapping their phones is, as opposed to, say, Hakim down the street who runs a nice little hotel and goes to the mosque five times a day to perform the required prayers of his faith tradition?
However, I would be remiss if I did not chide my fellow Democrats in this screed along with the Republiconartists. Because for the most part, they have been missing as the voice of the loyal opposition to this Dr. Strangelove and his traveling horror show. Only 126 of 208 in the House, and 21 of 50 in the Senate, voted against giving the Worst. President. Ever. the authorization to go to war in Iraq. And they've pretty much rolled over and played dead at every possible opportunity to stop this madness since October of 2002. The egregiously misnamed "USA PATRIOT Act" passed with hardly a dissentient voice (61 Democrats in the house, and Russ Feingold alone in the Senate, voted nay). Slightly more Democrats (156) voted against renewing it in 2005, but it passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I know the preznit and his minions have attempted at every possible opportunity to paint the measures by which they have shrunken civil rights and the rule of law to the benefit of themselves, their cronies, and their top political contributors as being vital to our national security, but that does not excuse Congress from its right or its duty to discuss these measures and deliberate about whether or not they are in fact vital to our national security--to say nothing of whether or not they actually do anything to advance it. Even if the measures are vital to national security and actually do advance it, they should still be thoroughly discussed, debated, carefully considered, amended where necessary--and limited in duration and scope such that they intrude to the least possible extent upon the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of this formerly great nation, and do the least possible amount of damage to our system of law and government. Instead, the Democrats in Congress have routinely caved to this president, and allowed him to continue raping our treasury, soiling our Constitution, and pandering to all the worst traits in our national psyche.
It is time to do better. In fewer than 500 days, the long national nightmare that has been the Bush régime will creep into the pages of history with a petulant whine about how nobody really appreciated its genius. At that point, the real work of cleaning up the gargantuan messes it will leave behind can begin. But we can--and should, and must--begin working to limit as many of those messes as possible right now. Democrats in Congress, although not possessed of the strongest position thanks to their small majorities in both houses, can nevertheless begin to say "No" to the Bu$heviki whenever they come calling for more money to fund their pointless wars, or more authority to erode the civil and constitutional rights of American citizens, and especially when they want to gird themselves with yet more unfettered power to do whatever they will during their last few days in office.
To be sure, the Republican flacks will View With Alarm any such dissent from the Dear Leader's agenda. They will absolutely try to frame your opposition as unpatriotic or even treasonous. You can count on their running attack ads against you at each and every campaign opportunity. But they will do all of those things anyway, no matter what position you take. So why not do what you know to be the right thing, and tell them to go take a long walk off a short pier until they can come back with an idea that might actually accomplish anything it purports to? The American voters will reward you, both for having the guts to oppose a war that is all but universally hated, but more importantly, for standing up for the principles you believe in.
Nor, my fellow Americans, can I legitimately exclude you from criticism. You have been far too willing to accede to the folly enacted by the Worst. President. Ever. in your names, and you have reliably responded in exactly the way in which the Bush régime hoped you would, each and every time they wave the spectre of terrorism in front of your faces. (Which they do just about every time they hit a new low in the approval polls, any time there is an election in the offing, or any time they want to distract you from anything that might demonstrate just how miserably they have been failing to deliver on everything they have promised to do.)
For shame. We're supposed to be better than this. Let us resolve henceforth to live up to our ideals, rather than, as the Bush régime would prefer, living down to our basest instincts. That would be a far more fitting memorial to those who died on this date six years ago than anything we've done thus far.