|By A.D. Freudenheim||
3 November 2002
A recent conversation with two brilliant and well-educated friends left me slightly stunned: they admitted a certain respect for a conspiracy theory (advanced in a variety of formats and by differing factions) that suggests the Bush administration bears more responsibility for the attacks that took place on September 11th, 2001 than most of us would like to believe. My friends were not (necessarily) suggesting that President Bush and his minions instigated the attack, or that the Bush Administration supported Al Qaeda's efforts, but instead noted that a number of the normal procedures that might have prevented the attack seemed to malfunction on this particular September day. In other words: the Administration had advance knowledge of the attack and intentionally took no defensive measures. Such conspiracy theories captivate; in this case, we know that no fighter jets were sent to intercept these planes, so there must be some deeper truth to the reasons why this did not happen.
Accepting for a moment that some facet of such a theory might be true ... the goals behind allowing the attacks to proceed seem difficult to determine, if only because predicting the results of the attacks themselves seems too complex. Perhaps Bush was hoping to jump-start his long-desired war with Iraq. Maybe he believed that the devastation caused would further advance the U.S.'s geopolitical position, through a combination of sympathy for the events and fear of the U.S. response. It is not difficult to imagine that the motivation was to increase right-wing control here, to secure a future (in government as much as in business) for the white elites in a country becoming increasingly less white. Nor is it hard to see where the success of the attacks could serve as a pretext for the removal of undesirables from our culture - a revisiting of the failure from the Vietnam and Gulf wars, to tidy up the American populace by removing those who opposed such imperialist, military actions.
How about all of the above. Look around: as I wrote last week, we live in a money-oriented, acquisition-focused culture - one that encourages people to measure themselves against what are ultimately a poor set of standards (how much can you buy?), and which feeds a negative sense of self-worth. Adhering to these goals makes us easier to manipulate, however; if everyone wants the same meaningless objects of a happy, consumer life, then no significant challenge to the power structure is likely unless we are all denied our toys.
As for the creeps running our government these days, well, part of the problem is that they are fundamentally out of touch with the bill of goods they have been trying to sell to their constituents. Since most of them do not take part in the same society that the rest of us live in, they are constantly stuck looking for new methods to enforce the rules and rally everyone to the cause of consumerism. The first President Bush was doomed the moment it became clear he did not know how much basic groceries cost in late-twentieth century America. The second President Bush has astutely avoided going to a grocery store and facing any such embarrassment; he maintains a folksy image by running laps around a ranch that is several hundred times larger than the average American homestead, but with the harsh Texas landscape, in shorts and a T-shirt, George W.'s allegedly-plebian nature makes for an easier myth to buy. (At least with Clinton we had someone inarguably real, inimitably American: he happily sought out McDonalds, and could think of nothing more fulfilling of his power fantasies than to receive oral sex in the Oval Office. And if the name "Oval Office" doesn't cause you to think sexual thoughts, trust me, you're the one with the problem, not Bill.)
Americans suffer lame anti-drug campaigns that clearly do not work, since marijuana's status as the nation's largest cash crop continues unabated. Many have tried to rally America to this cause, but even the mildly-successful "Just Say No" campaign could not have served as a key platform for keeping power. The strength of the economy worked well enough to give Clinton two terms in office, but the G.O.P. saw clearly the threat that such avowed centrist policies would mean to their ultimate dominion here. Life improved for too many people, and too easily at that; with money comes education, and a further accumulation of wealth, and ultimately political strength. Blacks and Hispanics, along with other minorities, made significant gains in the last decade. But if you believe that the G.O.P. is happy with this situation, you must believe that Jeb and George Bush's stump speeches in Spanish are unconnected from their pursuit of immigration policies that seek to block further the flow of immigrants from Latin America. Try explaining away that contradiction.
In a recent Newsweek column, George Will acknowledged the strength of the arguments presented in the new book "The Emerging Democratic Majority," by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, which suggests that the political trends in America favor the Democrats for precisely these reasons. It was a brave concession to admit that this research has merit, even as it serves as a call to arms for Will's conservative brethren: wake up and read this book, before it's too late. (It may be too late, George.) The acknowledgement is also frightening, suggesting as it does that what I have written above is truer than we might want to imagine, that Will and his political kin recognize the oblivion that awaits them in the successful rise of minority populations in America.
So you might call the "war on terrorism" a sort of Zionist movement for the WASPs. It is an all-out effort to consolidate power, to refocus America on the distraction of a distant war, and to ensure that in (ultimately) winning the war, the key elements of American consumer society can stay put. We will continue to have the cheap oil and gas and imported goods that make life easy - and that encourage us to overcome our better natures and to forget about the unfortunate folks elsewhere in the world, not to mention the unfortunate things about ourselves. It is the lullaby power of the SUV! The gentle, constant motion helps babies sleep, and adults too. It's cable TV for everyone! More sex, more city, and if we stay at home and out of trouble, well, more "Sex And the City" as well. A self-satisfied population is unlikely to rise up out of its couch-potato state and overthrow anyone or anything, least of all the ruling class that can give them an SUV that converts to the comfort of a living room with the touch of a button, and do it all for 0% down and no payments through the end of the year. Hoorah for General Motors!
Some conspiracy theory, right?
 "Politics and The 'Ideopolis'",
by George F. Will,
Newsweek, 16 September 2002
Copyright 2002, by A.D. Freudenheim.
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