I’ll put this right up front instead of weaving it into the larger quilt of sarcasm and bile: I hate the yearly “Remember 9/11″ manufactured bullshit. It stinks and it hurts and it tries to make fools of us all. There are two pieces of literature that I highly recommend everyone read, both of which play out in eerie exactitude each year at this time:
“Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky
“1984″ by George Orwell
Both are relevant now in that they describe exactly what is behind all the “We will not forget” hullabaloo. You know that you feel patronized to hell and back as the TV and the rest of the media world remind you to “Never Forget”. Why do you need to be reminded? Who in their right fucking mind is going to forget that miserable day? Go ask your great grandma what she was doing when she heard about Pearl Harbor. Ask one of your parents if they remember the day Kennedy was shot. Ask me or anyone else 32 or older if they can recall the Challenger explosion. We’re not going to forget, and they fucking well know that. They don’t care if you forget or not. What they do care about is that they cram 10 megatons of American flags and crying fire fighters’ children up your ass so you feel guilty and tune into some dramatized retelling of the day. And this is exactly what Orwell and Chomsky are talking about. In “1984″, the citizens of Oceania must participate daily in the “Two Minute Hate”, as images of their enemies attacking Oceania with heroic Oceanian citizens defending it are flashed across a screen. They are whipped into a froth of hate at their enemies and love for their leader, “Big Brother”. This is also the focus of “Manufacturing Consent”. Chomsky brilliantly proves beyond a reasonable doubt how the government of a nation can use the media to “manufacture” the “consent” they need to let the military-industrial complex run amok and test out all its new shit on some undeserving group of brown people, e.g. “Shock and Awe”. When Cheney, Rummy and the gang were running this playbook to perfection 9 years ago, Chomsky spoke up and said, “Wait, why the fuck are we going to turn Iraq into a glass parking lot of sectarian violence? What they fuck did they have to do with any of this?” He didn’t use those words exactly. In fact Chomsky is one of the world’s preeminent linguistics scholars and as such, his writings are difficult to read, to say the least. I don’t know if it is because Chomsky is so impressed with his own intelligence that he’d prefer his books are inaccessible to most, he doesn’t know any other way to write, or he just loves the smell of his own farts. Probably a combination of all of the above. But he is telling the brutal truth, regardless if people want to accept it or not. You watch enough images of smoldering NYC buildings, flashed images of Muhammed Atta, crying policemen, Osama bin Laden in front of a bookcase holding a Kalashnikov, the American flag, and guess what? Pretty soon you’re going to say, “Well Earl, probably bout time we go kick some feckin’ A-Rabb ass!” Chomsky was run out of town on a fucking rail by the “These Colors Don’t Run” crowd sent to do their bidding by Cheney and Rummy, who are brilliantly evil and knew Chomsky was dead balls correct.
And this is exactly how the government can keep you sorta/kinda on board with the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, whatever the fuck they are claiming the oil heist in Libya is all about, etc, etc. ”What, you want to leave Afghanistan before the ‘job is done’? Ummmm, are you forgetting 9/11 comrade? Are you with the terrorists? Why don’t you step away from the security line and come into this office. Have you ever been to Guantanamo Bay?” I’m not some commie red fucking bum who ”Hates Merika” and “Don’t support the troops”, and I’m certainly not some pathetic bleeding heart liberal. I love America, at least what it philosophically stands for. And not the philosophy of enslaving blacks and only allowing wealthy, white, land-owning males to vote. But the America of Neil Diamond. The America of the Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty”. The America of butt-fucking Adolf Hitler, not because we’re gay, but because fuck him (and if they’d just listened to General Patton and not let the Reds win the race to Berlin, shit would’ve been a lot cooler). The America of little league baseball, high school football, unprotected sex with the homecoming queen in her dad’s Buick, of Kansas and it’s infinite fields of utter fucking boredom. The America of Teddy M.F. Ballgame Williams. The America of bible belt hillbillies who love God and hate gays and blacks. The America of Texas’s right to be a state full of giant assholes. The America of Arnold Schwarzenegger going from poor, steroid-injecting womanizer to rich, womanizing governor of California. You need to ask yourself during the “Never Forget” marathon this weekend: What has been done in our name as a result of this despicable act? If the goal of attacking Afghanistan was to hunt down Osama bin Laden and his minions, and he is now murdered and his minions largely murdered or in a Turkish prison having their ball sack gnawed on by rats, then why exactly are we still in Afghanistan with a helicopter full of young handsome Navy Seals being killed? Read the goddamn history books. The French thought they could tame Vietnam. How’d that work out? The Soviets thought they could tame Afghanistan. How’d that work out?
I’m not saying don’t remember. The families and friends of this tragedy have endured hardship that I personally cannot fathom. I wish them the best that is possible in life going forward. I will remember that day vividly, probably until I die, or at least until I’m shitting my pants in an assisted living facility and talking to a house plant about the pretty birds outside. I will remember that scores of first responders whipped out their gigantic brass balls and went sprinting into fires to try and save people’s lives. I will remember spending that day in Joe’s American Bar on Newbury Street in Boston because we were sent home from work and the public transit shut down for about 10 hours. I will remember that people’s lives were irreversibly set on a course of grief and misery. And I bet if you asked any one of the thousands who died, or the tens of thousands whose lives are affected as a result, how they wished to be remembered or supported, very few of them would respond: “We want you to let the pentagon test out previously non-combat tested weapons of mass destruction out on two countries which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We want you to obliterate entire wedding parties of local peasants with accidental drone bombings. We want you to drag our military women and men across the globe to the middle of a fucking desert and a high mountain desert and have them dodge improvised explosive devices until they lose their shit and commit suicide. We want you to devote entire days every year to plastering the television with American flags and pictures of our children crying at Ground Zero so the media execs can make millions off of our heroism and our collective grief. But more than anything, we want yellow ribbons. Lots and lots of yellow ribbons.”
Don’t let the money-grubbing assholes in the media world win this weekend. Please don’t let that happen. Don’t let yourself get whipped into a Toby Keith soundtracked patriotic froth this weekend that the pentagon lobbyists can use to convince the government to prolong a meaningless, expensive and destructive war of occupation. Don’t sit inside watching the stars and stripes fly across images of smoldering steel until you have a seizure. Do what the dead and grieving would want you to do in order to honor their memory: Go live your lives and live them well. I understand what you are doing, but unfortunately a Facebook profile status of “America Will Never Forget 9/11″ isn’t going to alter history, nor will it set us on a positive path in the future. Play with your kids outside. Go to the beach. Get hammered watching NFL football. Smoke meth in a trailer next to a cow pasture. Just don’t get tricked into sitting about and feeling sorry for a bunch of people who would never want others sitting around and feeling sorry for them. That isn’t very American.