Thursday, June 30, 2005

[politics] Liberals wanted 'therapy'...

I'm still pissed off about Karl Rove's remarks of a week or so ago. Why? You mean, apart from the fact that he's simply full of shit? On September 11, 2001, I was working as an IT contractor for the St. Louis Airport Authority. Not too long after I got to work, our partner called me on my cell. Something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center, terrorists, so on, so forth, and how a coworker of hers was meeting clients in NYC and had been evacuated from her hotel at the WTC. I blew her off. I'd just seen the AP news wire on the internet - they'd mentioned that a plane had hit the Trade Center, but had given no indication of the plane's size. I'd thought Cessna or some such. Later that day, as the internet crawled to a halt and the planes (and finally the towers) came down, I couldn't watch any of the televisions that people had turned on. I couldn't wrap my head around it. "They must have killed everyone on board first", said a coworker, "I can't imagine anyone didn't fight." "Yeah", I agreed. I got another call, this time from a former coworker who'd moved to Atlanta. "You watching the news?" he asked, his voice hoarse and hushed. "Yeah." I lied. I'd been hitting "Refresh" on like a rat in one of those addiction experiments. I couldn't make myself watch anything live. "This is big fucking trouble. We're gonna nuke someone for sure." "I know." Silence. "You okay?" "I don't know. You?" "I don't know either." Reassured that we were each alive, we hung up. Numbly, I pretended to work for the rest of the day. Driving home down St. Charles Rock Road, I passed the Westfield Mall. Police cruisers blocked the entrances; the parking lot was deserted. Part of me wanted to weep; part of we wanted to grab some of these knuckleheads and knock their heads together. Who the fuck was going to bomb a second-rate mall in the middle of nowhere? The next couple of weeks were some of the spookiest I ever imagined I'd ever experience. We lived in the flight path of Lambert-St. Louis International - we could almost tell time by airplane noise, and we could certainly predict the weather by the changes in flight patterns. We lived in near-silence for almost a month, no plane noises apart from the shriek of the MOANG F-15s. This all changed in early October. At around 2AM one morning, I suddenly woke up, sitting bolt upright in my bed. I could hear planes. Plane after plane after plane after plane. Weeks of near silence were being broken in one long continuous drone of jet after jet after jet. Ever see the movie 'A Bridge Too Far'? If you have, do you know the scene where the Dutch kid wakes up one night and hears the Allied warplanes droning overhead, plane upon plane upon plane? That's what it felt like. "We're at war", I whispered into the darkness, sad that it had come to this, happy that we were finally taking revenge. Of course we were at war. We'd been at war the moment the first plane crashed into the first tower (can you remember the shriek of the second plane, engines protesting as it slammed into the second tower? do you remember the shape of the plane outlined in fire as it slammed through how many floors? remember the horrified gasps and wails of the crowd around the videographer?), but now, finally, we were making sure that the fuckers who'd done this to us were paying for it. There are other days that stand out starkly from those first months. There was the day when the news was a-twitter with rumors of planes planned to crash into nuclear plants. All day, whenever I stepped outside for a smoke break, there were 2 F-15s circling all day, lazy, low-flying loops and figure-eights across the St. Louis sky. Two drop tanks, a full load of air-to-air missles: these planes were loaded for bear: there were two fully-armed and fully-fueled planes in the sky at all times that day. I made a passing remark about it to a coworker who'd served in the Air Force. "Yeah, I noticed it too. They're flying protective cover; they're expecting something." I didn't do the math until I got home: I'd forgotten about Callaway. They were expecting more than they were telling us: there were no F-15s scrambled on the days they talked about planes crashing into chemical plants or crop dusters spreading bioweapons, but there sure as fuck were planes the day the talking heads on television were calmly discussing the properties of containment vessels and whether or not reactors could survive a fully-fueled 757 crashing into it. Then there was the wedding. Shortly after the air war over Afghanistan started, we went to a wedding in New York City. We had friends and coworkers tell us we were crazy to go, that we should stay in St. Louis "where it was safe.". We flew TWA into JFK. As we approached Manhattan, a hush fell over the plane. Think of the most serious moment you've witnessed, sacred or secular. The atmosphere in our plane was even more so. You could feel the tension in the plane as necks craned this way and that, trying to see The Pile. The flight attendants were scurrying up and down the aisles, hunched over, whispering to passengers like acolytes in a temple, answering the questions posed by the faithful and seeking alike: "No, you can't see the smoke any more." "You can't really see Ground Zero on the approach to JFK any more." "It stopped being visible about a week ago." "No, it's over there - no, over there, further that way." Hushed, serious, we landed at JFK. No one spoke until the plane stopped at our gate - when they did, it was as people leaving the funeral of a loved one. The next day, we attended a reception for family members in a mid-town loft. The stench of Ground Zero filled the air - mostly it reminded me of burnt insulation, but you couldn't help but think of the other things that were in that smell. As the afternoon wore on, our then-infant son was wearing out fast. We took him to a large, airy bedroom at the end of the loft, thinking we'd try and put him down for a nap. A cousin was in there, watching CNN: Giuliani, surrounded by public safety officials, was telling everyone about anthrax at NBC Studios. Trying not to watch, we finally get our son to sleep. We spend probably 30 minutes in the bedroom after he's asleep, watching CNN in mute horror, wondering what we risks we were subjecting our son to. So now, almost four years later, when this fat fuck comes on and dismisses everyone who doesn't support Augustus Bush the First wholeheartedly as traitors because we've started a war of dubious legality against a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and we think that might not have been the best thing to do for our country and the world, can you understand perhaps why I might get a little fucking pissed? You see, I didn't want therapy for the terrorists. I wanted us to kick the shit out of them. Hell, I still do. I want every single motherfucker involved in planning, facilitating, and executing the 9/11 attacks dead. I just want it done legally. You know, with regard for those conventions our Attorney General has deemed 'quaint'? With some respect for, oh, you know... the law? Decency? Human rights? Due process? I want it done the right way. I want to be able to be proud of my country and the manner in which it conducts itself. I want to be able to teach my son to share that pride. I want to be able to tell him that we are still able to act in accordance with established norms, that we believe in laws, that we believe in justice, that we believe in truth. Right now, I cannot do that. The best I can offer is that we have mechanisms which present to us the opportunity to correct the mistakes that our country makes. The best I can offer is the hope that someday we can make things right. The best I can offer is that as of now there are many Americans who are also seeing the truth of this corrupt Administration and their deceptions, evasions, half-truths, untruths, and lies. The best I can offer is that as of now, things can still change. I fear, though, that a window is closing; a window we weren't even really aware was open. I fear that a time may be coming where change (or at least, peaceful change) may not be an option any longer. I fear that Bush and his crew may be actively squandering my child's birthright, depriving him of any chance of knowing how great this country can be. This, then, is the source of my anger. Not that Rove has impugned my character or idly dismissed my political beliefs; rather, it stems from the fear that our generation may be the last to know true dissent. If that constitutes wanting therapy for those who would harm us, so be it - my conscience is clear.


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