Give Us A Chune

A virtual jam session

Monday, September 11, 2006

National Excuse Day

or..."If my steak doesn't come to the table in the next five minutes, the terrorists have already won."

I was in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, on September 11, 2001. We'd been traveling for about a week in a rental car, no radio, no TV, blissfully adrift, living out a dream. Then we pulled up to Newpark House to stop over for a few nights of the legendary traditional music of County Clare. It's a 17th-century manor house, replete with period furniture, manicured grounds and a peacock. Here's a picture:

As we pulled in, the proprietress--an older woman, round, short, and in obvious distress--hustled us in and said "you're Americans? Oh, terrible news, terrible news from America" over and over. She herded us up to our room, snapped on the TV, and the world shattered.

I can't add anything to the volumes written on how this country has changed since then. I have nothing to say about the horror of the attack, the twisting sense of loss, and the sheer down-the-rabbit-hole pointlessness of it all. I felt the anger bitterly on that day and still feel shame that a species capable of painting the Sistine Chapel, constructing the Alhambra, and writing Moby Dick is capable of such wanton acts of mercilessness.

Which brings me to the current wave of remembrances, memorials, and statements of intent by--primarily--our current administration.

When the US invaded Afghanistan, I thought "well, that's where the perpetratros are--yes, it makes sense to go find them." When the country began implementing stricter security measures and adopting special intelligence techniques I thought "well, that's what the rest of the world has been doing for decades to curtail terrorist attacks--the US has never suffered this before so we probably need similar structures." As the government rallied 'round the flag I thought "well, it's not my cup of tea, but perhaps it'll shake us into some sense of our position, vulnerability, and responsibility on the world stage."

What I have seen since 2001 is that we tend to use NineEleven (it's not a date anymore, is it?) as our national excuse to do whatever the hell our hawkish politicians deem necessary to keep the populace in a continual state of fear and acquiescence. I don't care what side of the political fence you're on, there is NO concerted national resistance to this sort of behavior.


1. NineEleven allowed us to move quickly from Afghanistan (where bin Laden still roams free) to Iraq. Iran has been discussed at the "star chamber" level as a target for invasion. Syria is also on the list of targets. To what end? There are, by the government's and military's own estimations, more terrorists now than ever.
2. Improved security has been taken to the NineEleventh degree: secret CIA prisons; torture of prisoners; unfettered, un-monitored, and possibly illegal spying; gargantuan and Machiavellian new government organizations (I always thought the Republicans were for reducing the size of govt) that are so myopically--and ineffectually--focused on one thing that we basically allowed an entire US metropolis to be washed off the map; and the new extreme looming: a wall across Mexico. Funny thing is, I know someone who flies every week and still gets a lighter through security 50% of the time.
3. "Rallying-round-the-flag" has become, for me, Orwellian. Not since the Star-bellied Sneetches have I experienced a more polarized political climate. I'm not old enough to have directly experienced the Freedom Marches of the '50's and '60's but I AM old enough to have experienced Reagan and Bush Classic. What does the dream of USA mean when we have gotten to the point where dissent is deemed traitorous?
4. NineEleven has been used as our Get-Out-of-Multilateral-Action-Free Card. Our foreign policy seems to consist of the phrase "we'll take what we want and we don't care who complains."

The sad fact of the matter is that I still think this is probably the best place to live in the world. So why do I complain and voice these fears? Same reason I practice mandolin every day:

We could be so much better.


At 7:14 PM, Blogger Deb said...

"We could be so much better?" Come on, this is America! We are the best! It is unpatriotic to think otherwise! ;)

Yes, I believe we could be a lot better. And we better start doing it now. And it is my patriotic duty to help us become better, whatever way I can. Even if it means keeping traditions alive, like gardening and good music. :)

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This, indeed, if your words fail you, answers even in public extempore speech--but better where other talking is going on. I think you're whistlin' again.. Dream disfigurement, then, turns out in reality to be an act of the censor.. He still looked from the window, and I said: Titbottom, I did not know that you used glasses.. Just come right on up and see.. These very incomplete suggestions may suffice to stimulate others to make a more careful collection.. He consequently immediately hired a horse and gig, crossed the Brooklyn ferry, and drove along the margin of the river to the Wallabout, the location in question.. It is not for us to deny the demonic element which has played a part in constructing our explanation of dream work.. (2) Two adults are caressing each other with homosexual intentions.. Here sank his fondest hopes, here ended his ambition.. The unconscious is the larger circle which includes within itself the smaller circle of the conscious; everything conscious has its preliminary step in the unconscious, whereas the unconscious may stop with this step and still claim full value as a psychic activity.. By the way, continued Mr.. Likewise many landscapes in dreams, especially with bridges or with wooded mountains, can be readily recognized as descriptions of the genitals.. For all that, wild horses could not have torn from the Colonel a word about Hotchkiss's anger.. Yet, when at Flukers', no man could have been a more cheerful and otherwise satisfactory boarder than Mr.. To one or more horses driven by a coachman of years and experience he did not always object, but to a horse driven by Podington, who had much experience and knowledge regarding mercantile affairs, but was merely an amateur horseman, he most decidedly and strongly objected.. Yes; through my spectacles, he said, turning slowly and looking at me with wan solemnity.. She declines, and goes to the greengrocer, who wants to sell her a peculiar vegetable which is bound up in bundles and of a black color.. He subsumed what occurred between his parents under the conception violence and wrestling, and thus reached a sadistic conception of the coitus act, as often happens among children.. May be, I replied, still more wearily...


Post a Comment

<< Home