Don’t forget to never forget what you never knew in the first place – Redux

We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.

-Gore Vidal

He also once said, more succinctly in an interview: “America, she has no memory”. That almost sounds accidental, but it’s not, here in these United States we intentionally forget.  And, tomorrow, on 9/11, 2023, we will be reminded of our amnesia with a barrage of flags, never forgets, solemn firefighters, burning buildings with ghostly flags and solemn firefighters, and an unironic dose of god, prayers and freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, the terrorist attacks were horrible.  They changed our nation forever, it was bound to, one way or the other.  And that’s why what followed the attacks was such a betrayal.

Now if you grow up in the United States you’re used to having to unlearn most of what you were taught about our own history. Most of the world’s citizens have to do so to some degree or another.  But here in America we have so many horrible dichotomies that we have swept under the rug that we have a somewhat unique need for amnesia. 

All men are created equal, said the guy who owned human beings.  Manifest Destiny was a really nice way to say we’re going to conquer all of the lands and disperse all of the the people living on them until we get to the Pacific ocean.  Just to recap, Conquer all lands = bad, Manifest Destiny = good. See how that works.

You probably never heard about redlining, sundown towns, Jim Crow laws until you were in your 20’s (I’m talking to white people here), and even then you assumed that was ancient history that has very little effect on today’s world. 

You probably thought the Indian wars were settled before the Civil War when in reality the Civil War was largely about who got to conquer the rest of North America west of the Mississippi. The North was basically like, look when we conquer all of this new territory you can’t put slaves there. And the South was like, the hell we can’t.  Game on.

The last of the Indian Wars, as we call them, officially ended in 1924 and apparently, as I just learned in the past few years, we spent a good portion of the 20th century abducting Native American children and sending them to boarding schools to strip them of their language and culture where thousands of them died and were buried in mass graves.

Growing up in America is like endlessly having a blindfold taken off as you silently mouth what the f…?!?

So why does 9/11 bother me so much? Well, I guess partly because I witnessed it in real time.   watched the injustice unfold and then witnessed the shroud of forgetfulness that engulfed our society.  And I can see the ripple effects it has on our collective psyche, not to mention our economy. And the betrayal, the theft of our collective right to grieve and adjust in a healthy way.  The denial of the reality of what we just witnessed as a twisted up tale was concocted to conduct one of the largest bank heists in American history. But it just wasn’t money that was stolen, it was also our sense of reality. 

So yes, tomorrow will be a day of never forgettin in Merica. We’ll remind ourselves that 3,000 people died in the worst terrorist attack in our history that wasn’t perpetrated by our own citizens. It was horrible, there were heroes that should never be forgotten. But what we’ll fail to examine, what we never get to talk about, is how we were deprived of real justice and a moment of reflection by our own Government. That very quickly, what should have been a catalyst for coming together was hijacked and turned into a rallying cry to invade Iraq.  A country that had nothing to do with 9/11, but that our President and his team and their media apparatus spent 18 months convincing us of a lie and depriving us of the truth. And in doing so they tore this country apart.

The first lie was immediate.  They hate our freedoms, our way of life. After hiding out for 8 hours while the whole nation looking for guidance, Bush showed up on TV the evening of 9/11 and fed us the cornerstone of bullshit that makes up the war on terror. They hate our freedoms, he said, our way of life.  Not many people had heard of Osama Bin Laden before 9/11, but those that did knew he declared war on the U.S. years before, first in 1996, and for some very specific reasons.  None of which were because he hated our freedoms. He was trained and radicalized by our U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980’s.  He hated our foreign policy which in his view killed hundreds of thousands of people.  The reasons he cited were our involvement with Saudi Arabia, the war and sanctions on Iraq, and our support of Israel.

You can’t never forget that because, thanks to Team Bush, and frankly a very lazy media mixed with a very motivated media to lie to you, you never knew it in the first place.

Many would say who cares what his motivation was, he’s a mass murderer.  Fine, so why make up a bullshit story then? Oh wait, are you asking? Great! I’m glad you asked.

Because they decided to use 9/11 as a vehicle to drastically increase the military budget in order to ensure that the profits rendered from the military-industrial complex would continue. 

So instead of saying we were attacked by Al Qaeda. That they were likely financed by elements in the Saudi Regime. That they were motivated by our current and past foreign policy decisions. We, instead, were told we were attacked by an ideology held by shadowy figures, part of a vast network that could include anybody anywhere at any time. 

We could have pressured the known terrorism financiers, captured bin Laden, put him on trial, and focused on the real terrorism threat that existed back then. A terror threat that was a fraction of the size it is today.

So why didn’t we do that? I’m glad you asked!

Because they decided to use 9/11 as a vehicle to drastically increase the military budget in order to ensure that the profits rendered from the military-industrial complex would continue.

So they lied to us. And if creating an ambiguous never-ending enemy in order to get us into a never-ending war wasn’t the desired outcome, then man did they just screw up every step of the way.

Since we’re never forgetting, let’s recap a bit. We failed to capture Osama Bin Laden before he escaped to Pakistan. We let Pakistan tell us to screw off and they didn’t help us find him. Bush managed to convince 60% of Americans that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and that he had WMD. We sent the Iraqi army home without pay but let them keep their guns. We opened Guantanamo bay, we tortured people, we took happy smiling pictures while torturing people at Abu Ghraib. We created a surveillance and remote killing apparatus that terrified the whole world. Including us.

If Lex Luther was designing a system to create anti-U.S. freedom fighters, aka terrorists, he wouldn’t have done half as well. That’d be a great What If, though. What if Lex Luther was President during 9/11?  Or better yet, what if Al Gore was President, you know, since he actually won the popular vote in 2000 and all. If Al Gore was President on September 11th, 2001, we would never have gone to Iraq. I can’t say he wouldn’t have succumbed to feeding the industrial military complex, but we wouldn’t have gone to Iraq. We only went to Iraq because the Bush administration thought it was a great way to, wait for it… to drastically increase the military budget in order to ensure that the profits rendered from the military-industrial complex would continue. And they lied their asses off for 18 months to get us there.

And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, while paying taxes, our yearly military budget was 300 Billion in 2001, it is almost 900 Billion today. 

So this 9/11, for the twenty-first time, we’re going to hear the same bullshit. Well, it’s actually mutated over the years. How did we miss it? Why the intelligence failures? Biggest foreign policy blunder of all time. Oh, but the heroes, so many heroes. And there were, there really were people who stood up to the moment. 

And then the inevitable, we were all together as a nation, so what happened? Wait, are you asking? Glad you asked!

First of all, we weren’t. If you were Muslim or looked Arab you were terrified and vilified. And sure maybe for a minute we were somewhat together. But pretty quickly Bush said you were either with us or with the terrorists, and the terrorists were hard to define. Actually, over time they just became the classic American other. Basically, the non-white non-Christian, or both, classic American Bogeyman we’ve been othering since we started this experiment.

So, one more time, what happened? Bush and company created an amorphous enemy in order to drastically increase the military in order to ensure the profits of the military-industrial complex. And that enemy, that amorphous enemy, morphed in the minds of the American populace. 

Many of us ceased to trust a government that lied us into forever wars and didn’t seem to care about the middle class. And the bogeyman became whoever we needed it to be. It was harnessed for new reasons and took on new identities. It was foreigners when we needed to demonize the first Black President. Immigrants when we needed a distraction from the effects of globalization. People of color when our white population felt threatened by our changing demographics. 

They say that when you lie so much you eventually lose track of the lies and can’t tell what’s real anymore. Maybe that explains Trump. Or maybe it explains America in 2023.

Today, half of America can’t tell you who won the last presidential election. What won’t we know tomorrow?