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September 11, 2003

I miss my country

Before 9/11, I was content to be mildly active in politics: writing letters, organizing teachers around me in a union, sarcastically criticizing our "leaders." You know, comfortable, middle-class, angst-ridden white person stuff.

But now, I've realized that Orwell was indeed an optimist. I take seriously many of the extreme right-wing and despotic "-isms" I dismissed as ever even being possible in the U.S.: fascism, McCarthyism, jingoism. I've personally witnessed a period of history that will long be examined for its insanity and irrationality as we now study the Salem Witch Trials, the Inquisition, Stalin's reign, and late Roman Emperors. But how to explain the last two years?

The analogy that comes to mind is that of confronting a lifelong drunk. Deep inside, the drunk knows he's a drunk and hates himself for it, but when he is confronted with the truth by those who care, he denies it to them and even to himself. The hangover is less painful than admitting the truth and dealing with the reality, so the drunk continues to lie to himself and drink, drink, drink.

That's where we are as a country. We're still drinking. But slowly, we're waking up to the fact that these terrorist guys don't "hate our freedoms" as Bush has said, but rather hate our culture of capitalism and hypocrisy that drains the soul and resources from nations and replaces it with plastic and Cheetos. We've become an international economic machine whose consumer culture is seen as enveloping everything it touches, and we Americans justify it by confusing freedom and democracy with markets and capitalism.

But no more. The hypocrisy of destroying a country in the name of patriotism only to pay your buddies billions to rebuild it creates a mental schism in the minds of even the most staunch Bush proponent, and hypocrisy at that scale, like the Inquisition and Stalin's empire, cannot stand for long. Our two-year denial binge is ending, and the truth about ourselves is being accepted.

Posted by tat at September 11, 2003 10:34 AM