Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My belated response to the 9/11 anniversary

I know, I know, I'm more than a week overdue for a post on this subject. Sorry; I've been ruminating. (Figuratively and literally; still chewing WAY too much food. But I digress.)

Last week, with all the televised memorials, I was shocked to see how much visceral pain that footage still causes in me. The feelings of anger, fear, and sadness came back with absolute clarity. Cliched though it may be, I was reminded yet again how we all changed that day. I remembered the solemn promises that we made to each other, and to the rest of the country, to support New York and the families of the victims. I believe we vowed to make the world a better place, did we not?

However, five years later, I do not see that we have improved the world. I see a war, raging, in a country that DID NOT attack us. I see Afghanistan, ostensibly the government most responsible for allowing this to happen (thanks to us interfering in the 80's, natch,) falling back into the hands of the Taliban, with Osama Bin Laden not even on the high priority list. I see a president, and his administration, who, when even the most impartial and empirical data are studied, have lied, lied, and lied again. More horrifyingly, I see an American public and media who have placidly allowed this to happen.

Something like 50% of the American people STILL think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, and had WMD's! Do you know how they did this, friends? It's like the old whisper the rumor game we did in high school. I say to someone, "Hey, I heard there really WERE WMD's," and then later on, that person will say the same thing to someone else. Thus, we create "conventional wisdom." (Note for the upcoming elections...some of the very same people are trying to spread around the practice of using the adjective "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" to be used to describe their opponents, as in "The Democrat candidate from Austin." It's supposed to be a slur. Watch for this.)

I just finished "Freakonomics." Great read, easy to get through, very thought-provoking. There's a quote in there from John Kenneth Galbraith about "conventional wisdom." It reads:

"We associate truth with convenience," he wrote,"with what most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort or unwelcome dislocation of life. We also find highly acceptable what contributes most to self-esteem." Economic and social behavior, Galbraith continued,"are complex and to comprehend their character is mentally tiring. Therefore we adhere, as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding."

So, we accept as true, as "conventional wisdom," that which is in our self-interest, or has the least chance of upsetting us. It is for this reason that so many people cling to notions that have been proved patently false; because, if they were to face the data with a cold, unbiased eye, it might be that they would have to accept the fact that going on 3,000 of our soldiers, plus multiple thousands of innocent Iraqis, have died for no good reason. And that is too upsetting.

Of course, this is the Mags blog. By default, it's all about me. So, I turn my Narcissismo Brand mirror back around to ask...how have I changed, lo these five years?

Well, first of all, though I was afraid five years ago, and perhaps thought thoughts that were unbecoming to me. But, no longer. I do not fear death by terrorism. As "Freakonomics" points out, we have a tendency to fear the rare occurrence, and trust situations that are FAR more likely to kill us. Do you let your child play at the house with the gun, or with the swimming pool? If you said the pool, are you aware that your child has 100 times the likelihood of dying over there than in the house with the gun? In that same vein, do you fear the plane or your car more? (How about your baby spinach? Do you fear that?)
However, if I, by some wildly erroneous bit of chance, am killed by a terrorist, these are my wishes:

First of all, I support your going after the guy that killed me, and locking him up in jail for ever and ever. (For TRULY, NO DOUBT guilty-type folks, though I oppose the death penalty, I'm actually not opposed to cruel and unusual punishment. Not Abu Ghraib stuff...just things like making it his life sentence to have an alarm clock set to play "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," loudly, at 4:45 AM, forever. Do know that Wham! will please me, even in the afterlife.)

However, and this is important...after I'm gone, if someone wants to wave my bloody pink taffeta dress around like a flag, asking you to support their completely unrelated and misbegotten foreign war, would you please tell them to kiss my big, white, pulverized behind? And, if they tell you that Mags would have wanted you to surrender just a teensy few of your civil rights in her name, would you tell them, sweetly and decorously, to get the fuck out of your face?

Peace. Rememberance. Resolution. Change the world, for real this time. Vote in November.

(This rant brought to you by my outrage over "Path to 9/11," ABC's Rush Limbaugh-fueled piece of shit that portrayed Bush as the valiant leader while blaming all his administration's failings on Bill Clinton. Goddamn, how I wish I could boycott Disney. Oh, but I have girls. Two girls. With the Ariel obsessions and all. Urgh.)

I promise; no sedition tomorrow, only harmless frippery.


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